Tools promoting transparency for sustainability labels

Klima | Anlage Klanginstallation
ALLIANZ Open Knowledge

Since we founded Bureau for Digital Good in 2009, one of our goals has been to make sustainability more accessible for different target groups by using the best of digital design and technology.

For the past three years, the German Federal Ministry For Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and its subsidiary the GIZ, have been developing a methodology for assessing sustainability labels and standards.

They needed a reliable partner that understands digital and sustainability to help them bring this multi-year project to the digital space. They chose us.

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The challenge

The methodology developed by the German government for evaluating sustainability labels and standards in various industries is very complex and multi-layered and is the result of several years of research and analysis.

The key challenge for the BMZ was not only to communicate this process and research, but to do so in a manner appropriate for various target groups. Three key target groups were identified (Consumers, Experts, Procurers), each requiring its own communication style and approach.


The results

In close cooperation with BMZ and GIZ, we developed a strategy to visualize the government’s methodology and results across three web-based platforms and two mobile apps.

Each front-end visualization for the respective platforms is controlled by an elaborate back-end system. This system contains a custom-made administration tool that allows the BMZ to control the multitude of parameters (such as algorithms), as well as a TYPO3 CMS integration for the rest of the content.

On the front-end, each platform offers its own unique filter into the same methodology. The respective stakeholder groups have the possibility to view the data that is most relevant to them, and, in some cases, to edit the data for evaluation purposes.

The two mobile apps allow consumers to learn and compare sustainability labels and standards. More importantly, it also allows them to scan labels that appear on products in supermarkets or clothing stores and retrieve the associated information. To make this possible, we developed a proprietary image scanning software that offers a higher scanning success rate than most alternatives on the market.

From a process standpoint, we started each project with user consultations and research. Wireframing and UX design followed, along with usability testing, visual design and programming. Proper management of requirements was key due to the highly sensitive and political nature of the project.

Over the course of 18 months, our team of seven programmers, four UX and visual designers, one concept and sustainability lead, and two project managers worked with the BMZ’s team to bring this project to fruition.