Is that wall just?

Yes, you may wonder whether I am having a bad hair day but I was sent this article, which is both hilarious and scary.  You can see the same sorts of lunacy infiltrating the Australian narrative – gosh, I can really get with the program.

I am told that the Forest Stewardship Council which is mentioned in the article is a really terrifying outfit which aims to stop all logging in both developed and developing countries, while in the meantime blackmailing companies.

Read this and weep.

Building product manufacturers and other organizations can now declare their performance on metrics like worker safety, diversity, and happiness.

The new “Just” label offers a framework for measuring and reporting social justice in the green building industry. ILFI has used the program to evaluate its own equity policies and sees room for improvement.From the organization that created the Declare “nutrition label” for product ingredients now comes Just, a framework for evaluating and reporting on social responsibility

Programs like the Forest Stewardship Council include social justice in their certifications, but such assurances are not available for the vast majority of building materials, points out Lance Hosey, AIA, in a blog post. The new label “fills a big gap in the market by addressing any and all building products and materials through a simple reporting tool,” adds Hosey, who is chief sustainability officer at RTKL.

 Although Just was initially designed to promote social equity in the green building community, any corporation or organization can participate.

 “The green building industry has been talking about social justice for a long time—and then they go about their business and don’t do anything about it,” claims Jason McLennan, CEO of the International Living Future Institute (ILFI, developer of the Living Building Challenge and the related Net-Zero Building Certification program). “We are trying to push our industry and other industries to consider these things.”

 Now in its pilot phase as of October 2013, Just began with a month-long “pre-pilot” in which four organizations, including ILFI, participated. The Just manual sets out criteria for each area addressed in the program:

  • Gender and ethnic diversity.

  • Equity, including union friendliness, wages, and family friendliness.

  • Safety for workers, including proper management of toxic chemicals. Worker benefits, including health insurance, worker happiness, and continuing education opportunities.

  • Benefit to the local economy.

  • Social and environmental stewardship, including responsible investing, “positive products,” and animal welfare.

 Metrics include policies as well as demonstration of a certain level of performance. For example, to get three stars for gender pay-scale equity, the organization must have a publicly posted policy on the issue and must document a maximum variance in compensation of 5% between men and women in every pay grade.

 Similarly, to get three stars for worker happiness, the company must have a published policy on happiness and must achieve a score of 8 or higher on a two-question worker happiness survey. The questions, answered on scale of zero to ten, are, “Considering all aspects of your job, how satisfied are you with your organization?” and “How likely is it that you would recommend your organization as a good place to work?”

 Although ILFI reviews all documentation, Just is not a certification program in which participants are held to a certain standard (a company could, in theory, publish a label with no stars on it). McLennan says that ILFI decided on this “nutrition label” approach because Declare had shown the “real power of transparency and the real potential for providing a forum to share information and create a lot of good, positive change.”

 Ideally, he adds, the framework will help guide purchasing and other business decisions—and may aid consumer choices as well. “When we choose to spend our money on something, we are supporting how [companies] treat their workers,” he told EBN, and transparency permits comparison. Many manufacturing processes have inherent dangers, he adds, but some companies do more than others to keep their workers safe. “You as consumer have an opportunity. If I have to use cast iron, then which of these cast iron companies treats [its] people the best? We should know that.”

The Bullitt Foundation, a non-profit environmental group based in Seattle, helped ILFI develop the Just program, along with two other organizations. Here, Bullitt founder and CEO Denis Hayes surveys the group’s new office building, which is targeting Living Building Challenge certification (and which houses ILFI).

ILFI has already fielded inquiries from several building product manufacturers, said McLennan—mostly from “companies that tend to take corporate responsibility seriously anyway,” he adds. “We’re guessing that they’re going to be our first adopters.”

 Anyone can download the Just manual and use it as a framework for internal evaluation and change. Taking the next step and posting the label online may feel risky to some organizations, exposing them to critique—just like any transparency program.

Users may be taken off guard by their scores in some areas, McLennan notes. “None of the categories are where we want them to be,” he saidof ILFI’s own assessment, but some results were more surprising than others. “We can look around and see that we’re not as diverse as we should be,” for example—in part because of a lack of diversity in the design industry, he claims. “That’s not as easy to fix as we would like it to be; it’s more of a systemic societal change.” ILFI also found that it did not have explicit statements to support some of its goals. “The COO told me, ‘We agree with this stuff, but we don’t have policies about these things.’ My response was, ‘Well, we better write one!’”

 Other organizations have found—and bridged—similar gaps. One Pacific Coast Bank, a pre-pilot participant, wrote its first animal welfare policy while reviewing its stewardship activities, according to McLennan. The bank does not work directly with animals, but it will now consider animal welfare when lending to companies that do. “They are talking to us about using Just as a deciding factor in all their loan programs,” he adds—tying lending to worker treatment and other social indicators.

Just is “a good start,” argues Hosey, but he hopes to see it—and the green building industry generally—broaden its scope. “In order to reach the neediest people, we need to cast a wider net,” he claims, which could mean purchasing goods from countries desperately in need of aid. In order to do this equitably, however, “the building industry needs new standards of evaluation that more thoroughly consider the circumstances of production.” Just could potentially provide that framework.

 ILFI and its partners will be piloting the program for an unspecified period of time before officially launching it, but McLennan told EBN he is on board with taking the label global in the future. “We will change our metrics,” McLennan emphasized. “We want to refine, improve, and co-create this with the world.”

 There is currently no fee to participate in Just, but ILFI suggests a donation for use of the label on a sliding scale that is based on organization size.

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43 Responses to Is that wall just?

  1. .

    So, do they build quality homes at a low price in a short time with minimal post occupation issues?

    “The COO told me, ‘We agree with this stuff, but we don’t have policies about these things.’ My response was, ‘Well, we better write one!’”

    Write a policy? These people are sick. Far too long in, or still on, the public purse. These metrics are made up shit that could have been dreamed up by a ten year old.

    I hope firms that go all in with this nonsense go broke.

  2. Rabz

    I hope firms that go all in with this nonsense go broke.

    Might have to implement some policies of my own – such as refusing to do business with any organisation that gets on board with this preposterous horse manure.

    One Pacific Coast Bank, a pre-pilot participant, wrote its first animal welfare policy

    FFS, what planet are these idiots on?

  3. Popular Front

    One Pacific Coast Bank, a pre-pilot participant, wrote its first animal welfare policy

    Horses taking loans? Goats in the vault eating the money? The mind boggles.

  4. tomix

    One Pacific Coast Bank, a pre-pilot participant, wrote its first animal welfare policy
    There goes the funding for bird mincers.

  5. south

    It’s all part of the left-wing Age of Seeming:
    (1) write some nice-sounding policies;
    (2) get the label and attention for ‘doing the right thing’;
    (3) put the policies in a drawer somewhere, forget them and do whatever you want;
    (4) point to the label any time you’re criticized for anything at all.

  6. History

    Social justice is just socialism

  7. David

    ‘There goes the funding for bird mincers”.

    Well spotted tomix. I’ll bet the silly bastards didn’t think of that before putting their limited intelligence into gear.

    If you had shares in that bank you’d be wanting to ream out a few directors.

    :-)

  8. boy on a bike

    I presume they make money by extorting funds from builders in order to certify their sites?

  9. cohenite

    No animals or trees were hurt or injured in the making of this comment.

  10. boy on a bike

    I spoke too soon. List of sponsors in Australia:

    http://living-future.org/ilfi/sponsors

  11. calli

    I hope firms that go all in with this nonsense go broke.

    And to think I whinge about doing Wast Management Statements. And Statements of Environmental Effects. For every project, large and small.

    Not broke yet, but only just survived the last six years of insanity. Compliance will add even more $$$ to the build.

  12. boy on a bike

    Bwahahahahaha

    The International Living Future Institute is an environmental NGO committed to catalyzing a global transformation toward a restorative civilization. Its mission is to lead and support the transformation toward communities that are socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative™. The Institute is a hub for visionary programs: Living Building Challenge™, Cascadia Green Building Council and Ecotone Publishing.

  13. johno

    boab

    Thanks for the list. I will add it to my list of companies to avoid where possible.

    Although this one looks suspicions.

  14. Rodney

    FSC may be non-profit but somebody is doing pretty well. Certidication seems to cost $15000 and upwards. Even smaller plantations and selective logging in third world countries are ripped off.
    Restoration of any building that is pre world war II is impossible because the timbers involved are too costly to certify. The same goes for all sorts of other restorations requiring timber.

  15. boy on a bike

    yeah – I noticed the Sloan outfit. Judith has been naughty.

  16. nic

    “The green building industry has been talking about social justice for a long time—and then they go about their business and don’t do anything about it,”

    Funny how ‘social justice’ never considers the ability of firms to service the cost of such guff and how the employment of people and indeed the poverty of those made unemployed is never seen as being under the banner of such ‘social justice’ Poverty and social justice refers to Mexico, obviously.

  17. Struth

    Take the funding away.
    Socialism only happens with other people’s money.

  18. calli

    “The GRSB mission is to advance continuous improvement in sustainability of the global beef value chain through leadership, science and multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration.”

    Huh? Clearly run by vegetarians. Of the wealthy pick pocketing variety.

  19. boy on a bike

    “The green building industry has been talking about social justice for a long time—and then they go about their business and don’t do anything about it,”

    Also funny how they don’t consider that the costs of this guff are passed on to the buyer, and if that buyer is a landlord, it is eventually passed to the renter. The poor bugger at the end of the chain pays for all this.

    Where is the social justice in that?

  20. Does this shit have any legal force at all? If it doesn’t, eventually people are going to twig to that and just walk on by.

  21. There schemes remain mostly harmless until the next socialist government is selected.

    Then it becomes mandatory for tendering for government contracts and snowballs from there.

    Some time ago when the BASIX home construction standards were being drafted, a couple of trendy socialist academics on the drafting committee tried to slip in a ban on the use of native forest timbers in house construction. And when that looked like being rejected they tried to have them excluded from scoring points for some unrelated rating system. Much like the current restriction on counting Co2 emissions from biomass sourced from native forests.

    FSC accredits native timbers harvested from naturally regenerated native forests in Europe but not here.

  22. Struth

    The problem being that the bureaucratic minds of middle management of larger companies underneath love all this guff that makes them appear more relevent.
    Just like OH@S on mine sites. The bureaucracy of the private company to deal with the bureaucracy of government or otherwise taxpayer funded parasites and anti business socialists.
    The only way to fight this is pull the money out from the taxpayer.

  23. Gab

    “The GRSB mission is to advance continuous improvement in sustainability of the global beef value chain through leadership, science and multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration.”

    Well they would say that, wouldn’t they?

    I thought these fatuous mission statements went out of fashion in the 90s when it was obvious mission statements weren’t the magic talismans against companies going under. Clearly recycling of rhetoric hasn’t lost its popularity.

  24. boy on a bike

    I thought these fatuous mission statements went out of fashion in the 90s

    The only time we see them around the office is when we indulge in a game of “wank word bingo”.

  25. Gab, I work with a very pleasant lady whose job is to write that sort of stuff.

    It’s always ‘But what is the vision?’.

    HUGE, ‘One Direction’ style fan of the kangaroo knitter…

  26. Gab

    Forester if your company is daft enough to pay her then good luck to her.

  27. Ant

    Being in the building industry myself I always laugh when I hear these leftist knownothings go on about “housing affordability” – while they busy themselves loading compliance upon regulation upon mandated permit requirements, which they regularly adjust and change so that one year’s requirements are never the same as the next.

    Yeah, they really care about housing affordability.

  28. DrBeauGan

    This is really quite a clever way to bring down capitalism. It makes parasitism look virtuous. The same thinking that led to a green senator who used to be a Russian stooge during the cold war. Go green, young parasite!

  29. .

    …and it is just like how the VET system is infecting the economy.

  30. H B Bear

    NGO extortion rackets like this sure beats sending Pommy backpackers on commission out on the streets in koala bear suits with buckets.

  31. Zatara

    One Pacific Coast Bank, a pre-pilot participant, wrote its first animal welfare policy

    We can stop wondering where humanities graduates find employment.

  32. Driftforge

    Doesn’t Fisk doctrine require the banning of the sale of FSC certified timber, and the prosecution of those involved for the extortion of funds?

  33. jumpnmcar

    Haha, “Big Ass Fans” is on the list.
    At $1,500 cost to join easily justifies the income they got during the BER school halls splash.
    (PS. Their brand name on the product had to be erased for PC reasons, consider the children. LOL)

  34. Where is the social justice in that?

    Lycra Boy, you’re thinking. Stop. Now.

  35. Can’t some nerd somewhere produce an algorithm for automating policies? You know, type in “environment” or “animal” and presto! Instant policy ready for the nearest filing cabinet.

  36. johanna

    Back in the old days, this kind of thing was called blackmail. Which was against the law.

  37. Robert O.

    It is unfortunate that the forestry industry and the governments have the lost the impetus to the greens and now have to kowtow to increasing socialist bureaucracy in the form of various bodies such as the FSC.
    If you look at European forestry for example they have been managing their forest on a sustainable basis since the 1500′s. For instance, the fir forests of the Pyrennees, which are quite productive, have been growing at about 7-8 cubic metres/ha./an. under management for the past 150 years. The Landes pine forests, which were planted in Napoleonic times to stop the sand dunes, around the 11-12 cubic metres/ha./an for about the same time.

    Unfortunately, people are lead to believe that they are saving the old growth forests by making them world heritage, or wilderness areas and locking them up. But this will eventually lead to the loss of the eucalypt component and a pure forest of rainforest species dominated by Nothofagus (myrtle) simply because eucalypts do not regenerate in darkness. A walk from the National Parks office to the Russell Falls in southern Tasmania, a typical old growth forest is totally devoid of young eucalypts and the old ones are well into senesence. It’s a pity that the Greens do not understand eucalypt ecology as well as they do politics, but it probably will not happen because there is likely to be another catastrophic fire, as there was in 1934, which will regenerate the eucalypts, and if the old growth trees are dead by then it could be re-sown after the fire.

    The solution to this dilemma is to log and regenerate the native production forests on a 80-100 year cycle, and the protection forests every , say, 200 years. To reduce the amount of fuel and fire risk they should be burnt under very mild conditions every 10 or so years.

  38. johanna

    Thanks, Robert O. You are obviously a forester, in the old sense of the word.

    In the 1980s, there was a kerfuffle about the Terania Creek forest, in northern NSW. Visiting around there at the time, I was taken on a wak of a bout an hour which led down to the creek – and that’s all it was.
    Anyway, it turned out that all of the majestic rainforest I’d walked through had been logged since at least the 1880s.

    Les Murray ought to be our Poet Laureate. He came from a family that scratched a life from timbergetting in those places, and produced some very fine, unsentimental (in the Victorian sense) poetry.

  39. johanna

    Sorry about various bloopers above – quite possibly my fault, but not up to my standard – j

  40. Sally Moore

    Forester doesn’t need to wait for the next socialist government for this sort of thing to take effect. The taxpayer is already paying for such nonsense. Most new government buildings (State, Federal, council, courthouses, universities, schools etc) are certifed by the (private, non-publicly accountable) Green Building Council of Australia’s Greenstar system. For this they (governments) have to pay a hefty fee to the Green Building Council, in addition to all higher cost building materials, most of which have to be certified by someone like FSC, Greentag, eco-specifier, GECA. If the builder doesn’t us these expensive materials, he won’t be able the get the Greenstar rating required by governments. It’s largely a rent-seekers scam. No government dares come clean on it.

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