Portland-backed Eco Index effort gets White House nod

The Outdoor Industry Association's Sustainability Working Group was named a

The Outdoor Industry Association's Sustainability Working Group was named a "Champion of Change" by the White House Thursday.

A Portland-pioneered effort to improve the sustainability of the outdoor apparel industry's supply chain helped get the Outdoor Industry Association named a "Champion of Change" by the White House.

Representatives from the industry association, including Sandra Cho, Columbia Sportswear's corporate responsibility manager, attended a White House ceremony Thursday to collect the award, which is part President Barack Obama's "Winning the Future" initiative. Thursday's honorees were recognized for excellence in Corporate Environmental Sustainability.

The White house recognized the Boulder, Colo.-based association's Sustainability Working Group, which was formed in 2007 and with the help of the Portland Development Commission developed an Eco Index for the industry.

Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of the association, accepted the award.

The index entered a pilot phase last year, with Portland-area companies including Columbia, Adidas, Icebreaker, KEEN Footwear and Korkers Inc. signing on to be early users of the system.

The index is an open-source, Web-based software tool to help designers use data to help source materials that reduce the environmental impact of products.

In a post on the White House "Champions of Change" blog Hugelmeyer wrote about the Eco Index's expanding reach.

"In 2011, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition — a broader group of companies representing approximately 30 percent of the global apparel and footwear supply chains — adopted and expanded this tool so brands, retailers and suppliers worldwide would have a standardized, credible framework and language to assess the sustainability of their products," he wrote.

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