SEIA boosts solar commitment with sustainability report and handbook

13. September 2012 | Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends | By:  Charles W. Thurston

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has underlined its commitment to the solar industry at this year’s Solar International tradeshow, following the addition of 3 new members to its advisory group. It also announced the introduction of a new sustainability report and handbook.

John Smirnow SEIA VP SPI 2012

John Smirnow made the announcement at this year's SPI, currently underway in Florida.

SEIA has unveiled 3 new members to its Solar Industry Commitment to Environmental and Social Responsibility (Solar Commitment): BSR, the San Francisco based sustainability consultant, As You Sew, and Boston Common. According to John Smirnow, vice president of SEIA, these new advisors will help establish the reporting indicators for the association’s first sustainability report, expected in early 2013.

The advisors will also help in the crafting of a handbook that will describe the expectations from Solar Commitment signatories, which is expected to be ready before the end of the year.

Founding participants in the sustainability report will be expected to cooperate with "SEIA’s Environment, Health & Safety Committee, and the sub-group Environmental & Social Responsibility Working Group, as well as the Solar Commitment Advisory Group, to further develop Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to be reported publicly," SEIA's 2012 Declaration of Support notes.

Solar committment

SEIA’s Solar Commitment underscores the industry's view on sustainability, Smirnow says. "But we aren't going to publish a 125-page sustainability report," he states. "We will include broad indicators as well as specifics; it will become increasingly rigorous."

SEIA announced the initiative in March and now has 7 founding industry participants: Dow Solar; SunPower; Suntech; Trina; Yingli Solar; SunEdison; and PV Recycling LLC. Some 40 international companies helped provide input for the early drafting of the Solar Commitment.

The SEIA Solar Commitment is unique among solar associations around the world, and it is hoped it will serve as the model for other national solar associations, if they do not become signatories of the SEIA document, says Smirnow.

Among the linkages between the Solar Commitment and other global sustainability initiatives, SEIA has pledged to the United Nations-sponsored Sustainability for All program, with the goal of adding 20 signatories for the SEIA Solar Commitment by 2013.

Apart from helping to foster the first Solar Commitment, the 7 founding participants are also said to be committed to changing their own organizations to meet the new SEIA standard.

Among elements of the SEIA sustainability guidelines will be well-established elements from a dozen other organizations' guidelines. The document was largely based on version 3.0 of the Electronics Industry Code of Conduct, developed by the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), however solar-specific issues will be added, Smirnow says.

Edited by Becky Beetz.


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