What makes a quality sustainable rating system?
March 12, 2011, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Having taken the Communicating Sustainability course at the University of Oregon, I feel as though I’ve learned what it takes to create a successful sustainable rating system.

The first aspect must be transparency.  Users value true transparency above all else, and if a company is honest about their business practices and their products.  Companies must take it upon themselves to provide the user with a truthful rating, as it is the rating that the user will follow above all else when making a purchase.

The next aspect is simplicity.  Ratings have the ability to become over-the-top and too complex.  If we are able to come up with a clear-cut list of attributes in which to rate a company’s products, the rating system will be simple and user-friendly.  Creating an understandable rating system is critical to creating trust.

Many ratings systems focus on companies’ current or past performances.  To create a truly successful rating system, the system must focus on how these companies are positioned to create sustainable practices going forward.  Instead of focusing on current and/or past performances, we need to create a rating system that focuses on current and future performance and ideas.

The last main aspect of a quality sustainable rating system is to provide the users with the ability to engage with the companies they are rating and buying from.  Most ratings are focused on performance assessments, where we need to focus more of the users’ time assessing the companies.  In allowing a truthful assessment to take place, the users will gain a better understanding of the companies in their current state and where they are planning on taking their sustainable practices, users will be able to verify information that is publicly reported, and it will help companies understand the ratings system, which in turn will allow them to improve their sustainability practices. 


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