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After HQ Scores LBC Certification, Etsy Shares Software to Monitor Building Waste Streams

Image credit: Etsy

When Etsy began the process of creating a new global headquarters in Brooklyn, NY, it saw an opportunity to drive change, to set a new standard for sustainable construction and design and to create a space that reflected its values, especially those related to community, craft, and sustainability.

Partnering with the International Living Future institute, Etsy has achieved Living Building Challenge Petal (LBC) certification for its new space, making it both the largest building with this certification in the world and the only project of its kind in New York City. LBC is one of the world’s most rigorous sustainability standards for buildings and unlike other third-party standards, it takes into account a building’s comprehensive impact on local communities and human health and happiness.

To achieve certification, the company scrutinized thousands of items for toxic or harmful materials on Living Future’s Red List, only used wood that was invasive, salvaged, reused or sourced from FSC-certified forests, installed solar panels and took steps to ensure that indoor air quality is better than it is outdoors — including surrounding workstations with greenery.

Etsy sourced more than 60 percent of the materials for the new building within 500 kilometers of the site, representing over 400 products. Aligning with its values and mission, the company tapped local artists and Etsy sellers to create responsible and sustainable art and furniture, a move which resulted in Etsy being the only LBC project that’s largely furnished with handmade and micro-manufactured furniture.

With this significant achievement under their belt, Etsy has now set its sights on becoming zero waste by 2020, with the company diverting at least 90 percent of its waste from landfill in its 10 offices around the world.

To reach its goal, Etsy will create an internal program to support and encourage employees and partners to recycle, compost and divert as much waste from landfill as possible. The e-commerce site will also work with partners and vendors to reduce the materials that enter into its office.

“Actively working to consume less and divert more can actually be good for business. We believe that our efforts to minimize our environmental impact can have a favorable impact on our operating costs in the long term, so this commitment is both good for the planet and for our bottom line,” said Devon Leahy, Etsy’s Director of Sustainability & Social Innovation, in a statement on the company’s blog.

In an effort to inspire other companies to define and achieve their own sustainability goals, Etsy is open-sourcing the proprietary software it uses to measure a building’s multiple waste streams. In coming months, the company will pilot DIVERTsy with select organizations and assist them with implementation, data collection and analysis.

“We’re incredibly excited to forge ahead with our commitments and play a role in minimizing our collective impact on the environment while continuing to grow Etsy as the global destination for anyone looking to start, manage and grow a creative business. We believe it’s more important now than ever that businesses do their part in creating social good and protecting the air we breathe, the water we drink and the planet we call home. We look forward to sharing our progress in the months to come,” Leahy added.


Libby MacCarthy is an Editorial Assistant at Sustainable Brands, based in Maine and France. She is a former urban planner specializing in sustainable cities, and an urban farming and film photography enthusiast. She holds a BA in Environment, Society and… [Read more about Libby MacCarthy]


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