Citing a commitment to the issue of sustainability in product design, SunPower has announced that its E-Series and X-Series solar panels, manufactured at the company’s facilities in France, are Cradle to Cradle Certified Silver (C2C).
This is good news for buyers of these solar electricity products. Here’s why: The C2C-certified standard has been developed to guide manufacturers in five quality categories:
- Material health
- Material reutilization
- Renewable energy and carbon management
- Water stewardship
- Social fairness
“Environmental and social sustainability are at the core of SunPower’s business, affecting every design, manufacturing and sourcing decision the company makes,” said Bridgett Luther, president of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, in a press announcement. “This comprehensive, innovative approach is unmatched in the solar industry, and is deserving of Cradle to Cradle Certified recognition. We look forward to SunPower’s continued success in offering sustainable and socially responsible solar products.”
Product manufacturers receive an achievement level in each category — Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum — with the lowest achievement level representing the product’s overall mark. The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute was launched in 2010.
In 1992, William McDonough and Dr. Michael Braungart published The Hannover Principles: Design for Sustainability. In 2002, they published Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, encapsulating a journey of discovery about materials as biological or technical nutrients and their use periods and their evolution. They created a framework for quality assessment and innovation: the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Program.
In 2010, after 20 years of working with companies, they saw a need to scale up the transformation. They gifted a license to the certification system and methodology to the public through the creation of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. The non-profit Institute is an agent of change through open source information.
For manufacturers seeking such certification, product assessments are conducted by a qualified independent organization trained by the Institute. Assessment summary reports are reviewed by the Institute, which certifies products meeting the standard requirements, and licenses the use of the Cradle to Cradle Certified word and design marks to the product manufacturer. Certification is an ongoing procedure. Every two years, manufacturers must demonstrate good faith efforts to improve their products in order to have their products recertified.
This is not SunPower’s first trip along the institute’s certification pathway. Last year, the company’s solar panels manufactured in Mexico earned C2C certification. According to SunPower, this certification meant the company was the first in the world to offer customers C2C-certified solar panels. Now, following today’s announcement, 75% of SunPower solar panels carry this certification.
“With three SunPower facilities now manufacturing Cradle to Cradle Certified solar panels, we continue to help residential and commercial customers reach their long-term sustainability goals, whether by achieving LEED certification or having a positive impact on society and the environment,” said Marty Neese, SunPower COO. “We are committed to making all of our solar panels more sustainable, in line with our dedicated focus to supporting the transition towards a circular economy that is restorative and regenerative by design.”
The solar panels at SunPower’s manufacturing plants in De Vernejoul and Toulouse, France, were assessed using the Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard by the product design and optimization firm McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC), one of 13 companies around the world authorized to conduct product analysis for the Institute. Product certification is available at five levels (Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum), with each higher level imposing a more rigorous set of requirements.
Headquartered in San Jose, Calif., SunPower has offices in North and South America, Europe, Australia, Africa, and Asia.
Photo via SunPower