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NSF 391.1 sustainability standard for professional services firms now open for public comment

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The new NSF 391.1: Sustainability Assessment Criteria for Professional Services is now open for public comment, allowing companies in the professional services sector to achieve certification that demonstrates they are operating sustainably.

It is designed as a performance and results-based American National Standard that applied a multi-stakeholder consensus approach to evolve.

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) – which spent $66.9 billion in the professional services category during FY16 – and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) participated in NSF International’s standard development process for a professional services standard.

Companies can achieve certification from a certifying body by accumulating points in the four sections on the standard’s scorecard: environmental, social, economic, environmental and sustainable supply chains

The proposed standard includes many new aspects that make it an innovative solution that addresses an important need. They comprise, for example:

  • A points-driven and results-based standard such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for buildings that addresses all areas of sustainability, not guidance or a framework.
  • KPIs in new sustainable supply chain areas, including supplier diversity, environmentally preferred purchasing and a system of accountability as well as KPIs that deal with health and well-being, community involvement and diversity and inclusion. 

Writing on this new standard, John Edelman, Chief Sustainability Officer at Edelman said, “In six years as CSO, I have seen increased stakeholder expectations move sustainability from a 'nice to have' to 'must have' status. We hope that stakeholders, including government, public and private companies, civil society, universities and professional services firms, examine the proposed NSF 391.1 standard during the period for public comment and offer their views and recommendations. We believe it will provide a roadmap for professional services companies to further evolve their sustainability journey wherever they may be today.

The standard can be found here and for more information about NSF 391.1 and its criteria, click here.  

If you are interested in reviewing and commenting on the NSF 391.1 standard, please refer to NSF International’s public comment portal.

Comments, which will be considered by the NSF Joint Committee for inclusion into the standard, may also be submitted to (with copy to until November 6.