June 9, 2022 is World Accreditation Day, celebrated globally since 2007. The 2022 World Accreditation Day (WAD) theme is Accreditation: Sustainability in Economic Growth and the Environment. How can accreditation support two visions: economic growth and a healthy environment, two objectives that frequently seem to have different end goals.
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and Accreditation
In 2015, The United Nations General Assembly established seventeen interlinked global goals designed to be a “blueprint for achieving a better and more sustainable future for all,” with the vision that these goals are to be achieved by 2030. Specific to the 2022 WAD theme, we will focus on three of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): 6) Clean Water and Sanitation, 7) Affordable and Clean Energy, and 8) Decent Work and Economic Growth.
The SDG 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth
Accreditation is based on conformity assessment standards. Organizations are assessed to determine if they meet these voluntary conformity assessment standards. Organizations that demonstrate that they meet the criteria are granted accreditation and must continue to demonstrate that they meet that level of conformity assessment and technical competence.
Elements of these standards provide a framework that supports and enables the organization to operate at a higher level of efficiency and quality. Core principles include impartiality and confidentiality, which help guide the organization’s ethics; resource requirements provide a structure to help the organization maintain a sufficient number of trained and experienced personnel, operating equipment, and suitable facilities. Documentation and record requirements help facilitate more efficient processes and communications throughout the organization. Management system requirements include internal audits, risk assessments, corrective actions, and management reviews, which raise work quality and reduce the need for costly and time-consuming re-work. These principals help foster a setting for economic success.
The SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation
As we learned about the water cycle in elementary school science, we know that there is a finite amount of water and that every drop is precious. Accreditation aids UN SDG 6 by providing accreditation to laboratories that test drinking water quality. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets legal limits for over ninety contaminants in drinking water. The Safe Drinking Water Act allows States to set and enforce their drinking water standards, provided they meet the EPA minimum standard or are more stringent. A2LA provides assessments to environmental testing laboratories analyzing drinking water. This benefits the consumer by assuring safe drinking water is coming to the tap. Accreditation benefits the state agencies by providing a resource to conduct assessments so that the agency can direct sometimes limited resources elsewhere.
Another area A2LA Accreditation supports SDG 6 is through our recognition with the US EPA WaterSense Program. Under this voluntary initiative, the US EPA identifies products such as toilets, showerheads, faucets, and irrigation controls determined to use at least 20 % less water, use less energy and perform as well or better than regular models. The EPA relies on International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and International Accreditation Forum accreditation bodies to provide the accreditation services to the product certification bodies that test and certify the products that are awarded the EPA WaterSense seal. Consumers benefit from this program by being able to refer to a listing on the EPA website to find products that meet the criteria. Shoppers benefit when they see the WaterSense label on products on the store shelves. Manufacturers benefit because water and energy conscience-minded consumers look for their products. The agency benefits because it can rely on the accreditation bodies to provide the assessments enabling the agency to redirect resources. The global environment benefits because this program has saved over 5.3 trillion gallons of water since 2006 and more than 968 billion gallons saved since 2020!1
The SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy
A2LA Accreditation supports the alternative energy industry through providing services to commercial and government testing laboratories and product certification bodies.
Wind turbines are tested to determine noise levels, overall performance, power quality, and structural tests on the blades, including mechanical loads, safety and function.
Product certifications include certifications for compliance and ratings based on American Wind Energy Association Standards and Solar Rating & Certification Corporation criteria.
Another area A2LA supports the alternative energy sector is in solar. We accredit testing laboratories that perform testing on solar photovoltaic equipment. Performance testing is conducted on solar collectors to determine efficiency and effective thermal capacity. Qualification testing is also performed to determine glass breakage, hail resistance, thermal cycling, humidity-freeze cycling, structural strength, and heat loss. In addition to laboratory accreditation, we also have a product certification accreditation for Solar Heating & Cooling Product Certifications.
A2LA also accredits several laboratories for the testing of biofuels. Biofuels are any fuel derived from plant, algae material, or animal waste. According to the US Department of Energy, the two most common biofuels in use are ethanol and biodiesel. Examples of areas that accreditation covers for biofuel testing include automotive emission testing to US Federal Fuel Economy Standards, Global Test Procedures, Particulate Contamination, and California Non-Methane Organic Gas Test Procedures. The physical and chemical properties of biofuels are also tested including ash content, calorific value, moisture content, Total content of C, H, and N, inorganic content, sulfur content, and oxygen stability.
A2LA also provides accreditation services for the electrical vehicle sector. Electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles are tested to ISO standards to determine the performance, reliability, and electrical functionality of the battery packs and systems. Several laboratories are accredited for testing lithium batteries for safety and performance. Accredited laboratories also test electrical vehicle charging stations to UL and IEC Standards.
As summarized here, one can see that A2LA continues to adapt as technological advancements progress to help realize our motto – a better world through accreditation.