Pilot Process

To test the draft guidelines, RESOLVE will convene an expert and balanced group of stakeholders who will pilot the guidelines in three product categories in the building sector (paints/coatings removers, flooring and furniture) and explore potential future application in a the services sector. The pilot will be carried out over approximately 12 months and include the four phases outlined below.

Phase 1: Organizing Purchase Category Panels & Governance Committee

Through June 16, 2015, interested parties may apply via the pilot website for membership on one of the pilot’s four Purchase Category panels and/or Governance Committee. Membership criteria – incorporating draft criteria that EPA issued for public comment – are detailed on the applications page. In addition to meeting these criteria, panels and the Governance Committee composition will reflect the need for expert and balanced representation within and across the pilot’s key stakeholder categories, in order to ensure an objective, open, and consensus-driven pilot process and credible outcomes associated with the Pilot’s Work Program. Confirmed panel members and at-large Governance Committee members will be announced in July, and will meet in August for a two day workshop in Washington, DC – at which point the panel-specific Governance Committee will also be finalized to include two representatives elected by each panel. 
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Phase 2: Panel Work and Data Collection

Through October 2015, the three Product Category panels will work to translate the guidelines into product-category specific checklists (a set of questions) and evaluation criteria (how to interpret the results) based on their knowledge of the sector category, the landscape of existing standards and ecolabels, and the relevant environmental and health issues for the category. Concurrently, a Services Sector Panel will discuss and prepare recommendations on if/how the guidelines might be applicable to potential future (beyond the pilot phase) assessments of services sector standards and ecolabels. The goal and expected outcomes of the Services Sector Panel differ from that of the Product Category panels; rather than evaluating a set of standards and ecolabels to test the guidelines, the Services Sector Panel will consider, at a higher level, the potential applicability of the guidelines to many different service categories. The RESOLVE team will facilitate discussions on each panel and provide supporting research and materials, while also working with EPA to contact and collect data from those standards and ecolabel programs that wish to voluntarily submit for conformity assessment. The Governance Committee will address consistency amongst the panel work program and consider implications for the pilot’s overarching goals.
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Phase 3: Conformity Assessment

In September 2015, the Governance Committee will recommend, and RESOLVE will contract, one or more independent assessment entities based on their assessment, audit, assurance and/or certification training or experience; subject matter expertise in environmental and health assessment and in evaluating standards and labels; and neutrality. The RESOLVE team will provide each contracted independent assessment entity with the guidance, the checklists, and evaluation criteria developed by each of the product-category panels (note that for the purposes of this pilot, the Service Sector Panel will consider potential future applicability of the guidelines only, and will not direct any conformity assessment), as well as the data collected from those standards and ecolabels that volunteer for assessment. It is anticipated that conformity assessments will be completed in December 2015 after allowing time for standards and ecolabels to update or provide additional data in response to any identified gaps. 
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Phase 4: Review Conformity Assessments & Develop Pilot Recommendations

Through March 2016, the product category panels – in coordination with the Governance Committee and with support from the RESOLVE team – will review the assessment results and draft reports that:

  • make a determination on the evaluation results where needed
  • develop recommendations on evaluating baseline and leadership guidelines
  • provide recommendations on updates to checklists and suggested scoring/points systems
  • discuss any additional content or background information required for evaluation manuals for other product categories
  • identify any recommendations for applications of the guidelines not specific to the product category

RESOLVE will then work with the Governance Committee to provide EPA with purchase category specific reports (April 2016) that summarize each purchase category’s assessment results and panel deliberations and recommendations as relates to the guidelines in general and purchase-category specific application, followed by a final pilot report that makes purchase-category specific and general recommendations on the guidelines and addresses the pilot’s broader goals (potential usefulness of the assessment results for federal environmentally preferable purchasing, potential for future assessment updates, etc.).

Disclosure of Conformity Assessment Results: EPA recognizes the potential risks and rewards standard development organizations and ecolabel programs are weighing as they consider volunteering to be assessed during the pilot. It is EPA’s intention to find the right balance between transparency and, for some SDOs and ecolabels, the desire for confidentiality when it comes to communicating the results of the assessments and/or other findings of the pilot to the public and federal purchasers. EPA and RESOLVE will seek input from all volunteers in shaping options that best meet their and other stakeholders’ needs.

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