Verifying "Greenness"

May 01, 2003 |

Along with the rise in popularity of environmentally friendly products has come a method of testing and certifying a manufacturer's commitment to the cause.

The Greenguard Environmental Institute has emerged as one of the leading certification programs for low-emitting VOC indoor materials, furnishings, and processes. Providing a third-party environmental qualification for manufacturer's products, Greenguard has tested and certified more than 10,000 products to date. Here's how it works: Manufacturers who want their products tested first undergo an initial "Profile Study" to determine materials and processes that may affect their products' emissions. The products are then tested in environmental testing chambers that simulate normal indoor settings, to determine their indoor air pollution contributions. If products do not meet the requirements of Greenguard, manufacturers are given suggestions for improvements before being re-tested.

Once certification is achieved, products are monitored quarterly and re-certified yearly. Product categories include office furniture, office equipment, flooring, ceiling systems, paints and coatings, adhesives, wall coverings, insulation, appliances, cleaning systems, and general construction products.

According to Greenguard's Director of Communications, Henning Bloech, Americans spend more than 90% of their time indoors, where concentrations of pollutants may be significantly higher than outdoors.

"Studies have shown that sensitivity to chemical fumes and odors is the most common indicator for health complaints from building occupants," says Dr. Marilyn Black, founder of Greenguard. "Architects, manufacturers, specifiers, and facility managers hold the key to the solution."

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently made Greenguard certification a requirement for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Certification Program for Commercial Interiors (LEED-CI).

Greenguard is modeled after U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the State of Washington's Indoor Air Quality Program, and Germany's Blue Angel Program standards. The certification board is made up of indoor air quality, health, and design experts.

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