measuring sustainability

measuring sustainability


Cradle to Cradle certification

   Time Estimate: 2—4 hours

   Goal: Use Cradle to Cradle certification criteria to decide your green design priorities.

Rate your invention according to Cradle to Cradle (“C2C”) certification criteria, estimating data as needed, and accounting for variation in your estimates. 

[NOTE: This exercise uses C2C certification v3, which has been superseded by certification v4.  However, you can still get a decent idea of the new version by learning the old version.]


Step 1: Read the Cradle to Cradle Certification criteria

   Time Estimate: 30-60 minutes

Understand the criteria by skimming the PDF of Cradle to Cradle certification points, and plan how you will gather the data to determine whether you’ll meet each one.  This PDF also contains the Banned List of substances.


Step 2: Make a spreadsheet to calculate the C2C score of your product

   Time Estimate: 1.5—4 hours

You can use this template spreadsheet, or make your own.

In order to be most effective, your spreadsheet should:

  • Be based on as much real data as possible.
  • Visually flag your uncertainties with red text or highlighting. There will be data unavailable to you, or not yet decided, such as whether ingredients contain hazardous materials or outcomes of social assessments.  For points with these uncertainties, show optimistic and pessimistic scores in different columns.  Then you can calculate the final score for best and worst likely totals.
  • List brief notes for each line item to remember why you scored it the way you did. You only need a few words, not a whole paragraph.
  • Be graphically designed to be clear and easy to interpret by someone other than you. This can be a powerful communication tool between you and your team (or your investors, or your future self). If you keep coming back to it, it can be a dashboard for tracking improvement.


Step 3: Interpret your results

   Time Estimate: 5—10 minutes
  • Would you qualify for C2C certification in your best-case scenario? What about worst-case scenario?
  • What points would prevent you from qualifying? Where are you scoring well? What would be easy for you to change?

Use these conclusions to set your priorities for green design and operations.



Checklist for Self-Assessment

To score your success on this exercise, see if you…

  1. Listed yes/no scores for all points of the certification.
  2. Visually flagged uncertainties and showed optimistic and pessimistic scores in different columns.
  3. Calculated final score for best-case and worst-case likely totals.
  4. Listed what level (if any) Cradle to Cradle certification you would qualify for in your best-case and worst-case scenarios.
  5. Listed brief notes for each line item.
  6. Made the document visually clear and easy to interpret by someone other than you.
  7. Described how your score(s) affect your design priorities: what prevents you from certifying, where are you scoring well, what would be easy to change, etc.


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