Sustainability Value Scores: The science of sustainability

To give our partners a clear, concise and above all, reliable indication of the environmental impact associated with using our solutions, CommScope is rolling out Sustainable Value (SV) Scores attached to our outdoor wireless antenna solutions, starting with our base station antennas. CommScope's Mike Wolfe explains how this innovative new system works.

As a leading manufacturer of wireless network infrastructure, CommScope’s Outdoor Wireless Networks (OWN) understands our obligation to produce solutions that not only perform to spec, but also to build those solutions with a gentler environmental footprint. We’re certainly not alone in this concern—green thinking is prevalent in the industry now. But when we took a look at how sustainability was actually implemented, we discovered (as you may have also) that quantifying the reduced environmental impact of green design—in a consistent, scientifically rigorous way—is a stubbornly difficult thing to do.

There are many ways to define sustainability, just as many ways to measure it, and a complex, interconnected calculation of tradeoffs between greener design, product performance and total cost of ownership. With so many ways to quantify sustainability, the lack of an objective, comprehensive, industry-wide metric makes it difficult for our environmentally-conscious partners to accurately, objectively weigh their choice of network infrastructure.

Everyone talks about building greener, and that’s a good thing; however, it’s an even better thing to be able to quantify with hard scientific data just how much greener we’re really becoming.

CommScope is known worldwide for innovating better solutions to thorny challenges, and we’re doing it again, bringing green thinking to the testing bench to see how improvements really measure up.

Introducing CommScope’s SVScore™ system

To give our partners a clear, concise and above all, reliable indication of the environmental impact associated with using our solutions, CommScope is rolling out Sustainable Value (SV) Scores attached to our outdoor wireless antenna solutions, starting with our base station antennas. Like Energy Star ratings or EU Energy Labels, SV Scores distill a vast amount of technical information into an aggregate score that’s easy to understand and reliably based on hard data. Each aggregate score is based on four sub-scores, also included in the labeling, that reflect different ways sustainability can be measured.

Picture1.pngThis example label shows how simply we’ve broken down the enormous amount of data. The aggregate score at the top is an average of the four categories of measured sustainability benefits that run the gamut from electrical consumption to transportation efficiency, along a range of values from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest possible.

Specifically, the four categories are:

  1. Radiation efficiency, which measures how much electrical power put into an antenna translates directly into radiated signal.
  2. Spatial efficiency, which measures how effectively the antenna covers a specific area without transmitting into unwanted areas where interference may occur.
  3. Materials use, which is a digest of the amount of steel, copper, aluminum, fiberglass and thermoplastic used in construction. These materials are expressed in CO2 equivalents, including any allowance for recycled source materials. It will also reflect how much of those materials are recyclable at the end of the product’s life cycle.
  4. Transportation efficiency, which reflects packaging volume and the energy and CO2 saved by using fewer 40’ shipping containers to transport by sea.

All four categories are measured, validated and translated into equivalent CO2 release values, then averaged to produce the aggregate score for each antenna. For the first two measurements, the figure assumes the total savings over a five-year product lifespan.

Our partners have asked for this transparent communication

All over the world, network operators have made sustainability a cornerstone of their business. The lack of a simple, comprehensive way to measure environmental impact has made it very difficult for them to prove their actions are living up to their promises. Now, with the SVScore system, we hope to help our partners really understand the benefit of what they’re buying—and just as importantly, let their customers know that their networks are truly greener in how they operate, not just in how they’re advertised. This is the transparent communication they need to make better decisions for their businesses, as well as for the planet.

CommScope’s SVScore labeling now empowers these partners to make informed and defensible decisions about the products they put into their infrastructure—and understand where the tradeoffs required by more sustainable solutions make the most sense. For example, to provide better radiation efficiency (metric #1), it may be necessary to choose a solution that uses more copper (metric #3). If the energy savings over time are the most important consideration, this is the environmentally superior choice. If materials matter more, then it isn’t. In any case, the SVScore system is all about empowering our partners with the information they need to make these hard decisions.

A sea change for the industry? Perhaps

Our intuitive approach to data-driven sustainability measurement could become, or at least set the stage for, a universal sustainability benefit system used across the industry. As a universally-understood platform for manufacturers and network operators alike, the SVScore system could help speed up adoption of more sustainable network planning and construction all over the world.

That, I think you’ll agree, is a change we could all enjoy—and one that future generations will thank us for.

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