Sustainability Assessment Criteria for Services

  • Overview
  • NSF P391
  • NSF 391.1
  • Benefits of Certification
  • Why Work With NSF Sustainability?
  • Certification Process

Sustainability comes to the services sector. NSF Sustainability has developed two certification programs for service providers, the protocol NSF P391 and the standard NSF 391.1. The NSF P391 protocol was developed to allow service providers that wanted to pursue more sustainable operations and services delivery a way to gain certification. Organizations throughout the broad category of service providers such as cleaning services, contract furniture dealers, plumbers, electricians, installation contractors and others can seek certification under this protocol.

A group interested in pursuing a more finite area of the services industry then came together to develop NSF 391.1: Sustainability Assessment for Professional Services. NSF 391.1 is still in development as an American National Standard and is expected to be released as an ANSI standard in late 2016. Any organization that falls under the U.S. Federal Professional Services Schedule (PSS) or meets NAICS code 54 designation can certify to the NSF 391.1 standard.

NSF P391

Service providers now have a pathway to sustainability through NSF Protocol 391: General Sustainability Assessment Criteria for Services and Service Providers. NSF P391 includes prerequisites as well as optional criteria that define and evaluate the environmental, economic and social impacts of the services and practices of all types of service providers. Environmental consulting firms; building contractors; engineering, architectural and design firms; maintenance contractors; product dealers and distributors; and delivery or installation companies are among the many service providers eligible to earn NSF P391 certification.

What Is the NSF P391 Protocol?

NSF P391 was developed by NSF’s National Center for Sustainability Standards (NCSS) through a consensus-based process with an expert panel of stakeholders. NSF Sustainability certifies service providers to the NSF P391 protocol, helping companies develop standardized, objective methods for measuring sustainability. A fundamental goal of sustainable services certification is to inspire marketplace confidence and credibility for these service providers.

NSF P391 is based on life-cycle assessment principles. The protocol uses a comprehensive checklist to evaluate service providers against established prerequisite requirements, performance criteria and quantifiable metrics in three key areas:

  • Environment
  • Labor
  • Social responsibility

To purchase a copy of NSF P391, visit the NSF Bookstore.

NSF 391.1

Professional services organizations now have a sustainability assessment standard through NSF 391.1: General Sustainability Assessment Criteria for Professional Services. NSF 391.1 defines and evaluates the environmental, social and economic impacts and aspects for any organization that falls under the U.S. Federal Professional Services Schedule (PSS) or meets NAICS code 54 designation can certify to the NSF 391.1 standard. This includes companies providing all types of professional services such as environmental consulting, law, advertising, marketing, accounting, medical services firms, engineering, architectural and design firms.

What Is the 391.1 Standard?

NSF P391.1 is under development by NSF’s National Center for Sustainability Standards (NCSS) through a consensus-based, multi-stakeholder approach, in conjunction with government, civil society and professional services firms. The standard provides an objective method for measuring sustainability through a triple bottom line methodology. The standard uses a comprehensive checklist to evaluate professional service providers against prerequisite requirements and optional performance criteria with quantifiable metrics in key areas such as environment, labor and social responsibility.

Learn more about the standard from John Edelman, chair of the Social Task Group of NSF 391.1, speaking the Sustainable Supply Chain Summit in this video.

Benefits of Certification

Benefits for service providers certified to NSF P391 and NSF 391.1 include:

  • Distinguishing your "green" services from your competitors, making you a preferred vendor to those seeking more sustainable solutions
  • Meeting state and federal procurement guidelines for sustainable services
  • Achieving the most credible type of certification available in the marketplace
  • Saving money by adopting more sustainable operational practices and business approaches

NSF certification to P391 or 391.1 is based on achieving points for applicable criteria. Service providers certified by NSF are authorized to use the NSF Sustainability Certified mark in their advertising.

Why Work With NSF Sustainability?

With over 70 years of laboratory testing, product reviews, validation and technical excellence, NSF is a preferred third-party certification body for many businesses and organizations. We know the requirements and intent behind all the NSF P391 and NSF 391.1 criteria and can guide you through the certification process to achieve cost-effective, reliable and consistently high-quality results. With two standards to choose from, NSF can meet your needs in sustainability certification.

Our services do not stop with sustainable services certification. Our subsidiary NSF-ISR is also a leading worldwide third-party registrar for ISO 14001, ISO 9001 and OHSAS 18001, and industry specific ISO standards. With our large network of international auditors, we can conduct audits in over 100 countries and provide you with global market access for your services.

Certification Process

NSF has helped thousands of companies obtain both local and international market access. Our certification process includes six simple steps:

  1. Your company completes the application process and submits signed documents to NSF.
  2. With our guidance, your company submits documentation for an off-site document review.
  3. We conduct an off-site documentation review and provide feedback and data analysis prior to the on-site audit.
  4. We conduct an on-site audit of the service provider’s facility or facilities.
  5. Once all follow-up is complete, we grant certification and list certified companies and service providers on the NSF website.
  6. We schedule annual surveillance audits and notify you of recertification.

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