Today, the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) launched a new certification standard for product design and manufacturing at its 9th-annual “unConference,” held this year in Seattle. The Living Product Challenge (LPC) is inspired by the design principles of biomimicry and biophilia, with certified products being locally sourced, comprised of sustainable materials, and whose manufacture is powered only by renewable energy and within the geographic water balance of the places they are made.

The new program supports companies that reduce a product’s footprint across factors such as carbon, water, and energy, and create a measurable positive impact through what the institute calls handprinting. The ILFI defines a footprint as what individuals or groups take from the Earth through consumption, and a handprint as what they give back. When handprints are bigger than footprints, products can become net positive.

The LPC is structured like the Living Building Challenge, a rigorous performance standard created by the ILFI for the built environment in 2006. The product-design standard is comprised of seven performance categories, or petals: beauty, energy, equity, health and happiness, materials, place, and water. The petals are broken down into 20 requirements, each focusing on a specific sphere of influence. Products can be fully or partially certified under the LPC, based on the number of performance categories whose requirements the product meets. The ILFI claims the LPC is the “first multi-attribute, third party–evaluated materials standard that also focuses on complete disclosure of environmental and social performance,” according to a press release. 

Manufacturers can use existing life cycle assessments (LCAs), including studies that have been used to develop environmental product declarations, and apply them to the LCA requirements of the LPC to indicate that the manufacturer is aware of its footprints and is working to reduce them.

“The Living Product Challenge is envisioned as a program to give clarity to manufacturers and consumers alike as to where the future is for all product innovations to be truly good for people and the planet,” said ILFI CEO Jason McLennan in the press release. “It is intended as a beacon to guide the manufacturing of all the thousands of things we surround ourselves with on a daily basis, and to give direction and support to those who make the goods we use.”

The program's cost will be announced by June 1.