The intent of the Energy Petal is to signal a new age of product design and manufacturing, wherein facilities of all types rely solely on renewable forms of energy and operate year-round in a safe, pollution-free manner, ultimately giving back more than they take. In addition, this Petal engages manufacturers to consider the full life cycle energy footprint of their products and to look for ways that product or process innovation can conserve energy.
Living Products will be manufactured in ways that produce more energy than is required to make the product on-site. Further, Living Products will be designed and distributed in ways that enable them to generate or conserve more energy over their entire life cycle than is required to produce them.
The Energy Petal aims to prioritize reductions and optimization before technological solutions are applied to eliminate wasteful spending—of energy, resources and dollars. The majority of energy generated today is from highly polluting and often politically destabilizing sources, including coal, gas, oil and nuclear power. Large-scale hydro, while inherently cleaner, results in widespread damage to ecosystems. Burning wood, trash or pellets releases particulates and carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere and often strains local supplies of sustainably harvested biomass while robbing the soil of much-needed nutrient recycling. The effects of these energy sources on regional and planetary health are becoming increasingly evident through climate change, the most worrisome major global trend attributed to human activity.
Ideal Conditions and Current Limitations
The Living Product Challenge envisions a safe, reliable and decentralized power grid, powered entirely by renewable energy, supplied to incredibly efficient buildings and infrastructure without the negative externalities associated with combustion or fission. Although considerable progress has been made to advance renewable energy technologies, there is still a need for a greater efficiency from these systems and for new, cleaner ways to store the energy they generate. These realities together with the current cost of the systems available, is the major limitations to reaching our goals.
105% of the energy used to produce the product in its final form must be generated from on-site renewable energy on a net annual basis.
The manufacturer must use the Institute Footprint Calculator to assess and document the energy footprint of producing the product, and identify the five processes (key drivers) that make the largest contributions to the product’s cradle-to-gate energy footprint. The footprint assessment can be based on a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) for the product, performed by or for the manufacturer, or use the Institute Footprint Calculator. If a prior LCA is used, the LCA, should follow the ISO 14044 standard for a Life Cycle Assessment being used in a third-party communication.
The manufacturer must develop and publicly share a three-year plan to reduce the product’s energy footprint and create an energy handprint greater than the footprint through one or more of the following strategies:
- Innovate to conserve energy or generate renewable energy across the life cycle of the product.
- Innovate within supply chains to conserve energy or generate renewable energy in the supply chain.
- Engage with users to achieve energy conservation through improved use of the product.