Wednesday, November 24, 2010

EcoLabels & Certifications: Wood Forestry Certifications

Today's installment of Deborah Fuller's Eco-Labels and Certifications series focuses on Wood Forestry Certifications.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) –Forestry, Wood and Chain of Custody

The Forest Stewardship Council is a nonprofit international organization committed to the conservation, restoration, and protection of the world's working forests through standards setting and accreditation.

The term "independently certified forest products" refers to those products originating in a forest that an independent third party has certified as well-managed and sustainable. Forest certification validates on-the-ground operations employing the best management practices at a specific forest to ensure the long-term health of the total forest ecosystem.

Today, the only ratings available that meet the criteria established by the Certified Forest Products Council are those of the Forest Stewardship Council. FSC standards were developed by representatives of conservation groups, the timber industry, economic development organizations and the general public.

A forestry operation that meets FSC standards protects forest ecosystems, water quality, wildlife habitats and local communities. To ensure the integrity of the certification, the wood and fiber from certified forests are tracked through the commercial chain from logging sites to retailers and to the end user (COC).

Contributes to: USGBC –LEED credits MRc7 –Certified Wood
FSC is a non profit organization

Rainforest Alliance Certification

The Rainforest Alliance is a nonprofit organization with more than two decades of experience developing environmental and social standards for the sustainable management of natural resources while helping companies and organizations of all sizes adopt sustainable practices.
Central to the Rainforest Alliance's sustainable forestry efforts is independent third-party certification, which assures consumers that the wood products they purchase come from well-managed forests. With the launch of SmartWood in 1989, the Rainforest Alliance developed the world's first global forestry certification program and the first to rely on market forces to conserve forests. The Rainforest Alliance is one of the founders of the Forest Stewardship Council , and is the largest FSC-accredited certifier. The Rainforest Alliance has certified the greatest number of community and indigenous operations to FSC standards.

The Rainforest Alliance Certified seal ensures that goods and services were produced in compliance with strict guidelines protecting the environment, wildlife, workers, and local communities.

The Rainforest Alliance is a non-profit organization

Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) on-product label provides customers and end users of wood and paper products an assurance that products are produced in accordance with their environmental expectations. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) program states it has the most comprehensive approach to wood supply monitoring of any forest certification program in the world and can help provide this assurance with several options for chain of custody and on-product labels. SFI program participants practice sustainable forestry on all the lands they manage. They also influence millions of additional acres through the training of loggers and foresters in best management practices and landowner outreach programs.

SFI is an industry organization

CPA/EPP Certification for Engineered Wood
The Composite Panel Association (CPA) launched an environmentally preferable product (EPP) certification program to reduce the use of virgin timber in engineered wood products. Based on the principles of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing program, CPA’sspecification will ensure that EPP-certified products contain 100% recycled or recovered wood fiber. The specifications include sawmill waste in this “recycled or recovered” content. “If we didn’t use sawmill waste, there wouldn’t be an industry,” CPA also conducts product testing and third-party certification programs, offering the first ANSI accredited Environmentally Preferable Product (EPP) certification program.The EPP Program certifies composite panel products that are 100 percent recycled and low emitting. Downstream manufacturers who use EPPcertified substrates can also market their products as environmentally preferable through this program.

CPA is a non profit organization

American Tree Farm System (ATFS)
Our mission -To promote the growing of renewable forest resources on private lands while protecting environmental benefits and increasing public understanding of all benefits of productive forestry.

The American Tree Farm System® (ATFS), a program of the American Forest Foundation's Center for Family Forests, is committed to sustaining forests, watershed and healthy habitats through the power of private stewardship. Currently, ATFS has certified 24 million acres of privately owned forestland and 90,473 family forest owners who are committed to excellence in forest stewardship, in 46 states. Tree Farmers share a unique commitment to protect wildlife habitat and watersheds, to conserve soil and to provide recreation for their communities while producing wood for America.

ATFS is a non-profit organization

Canadian Standards Associate (CSA) -Wood
CANADIAN STANDARDS ASSOCIATION (CSA) is a not-for-profit membership-based association serving industry, government, consumers and other interested parties in Canada and the global marketplace. A leading developer of standards and codes, we provide products, services and training that help enhance public safety and health, improve the quality of life, facilitate trade and preserve the environment.

CSA is a non-profit organization

Check back soon for the next installment: Furniture Certifications

Monday, November 22, 2010

Taking the Tube Out of Toilet Paper

Well, it's true that we can't exactly reuse toilet paper, but we can reduce the waste it takes to make it! Scott just came out with a "tubeless" toilet paper roll with no cardboard paper roll in the center or glue that holds it together. This from a recent USA Today article:

The 17 billion toilet paper tubes produced annually in the USA account for 160 million pounds of trash, according to Kimberly-Clark estimates, and could stretch more than a million miles placed end-to-end. That's from here to the moon and back — twice. Most consumers toss, rather than recycle, used tubes, says Doug Daniels, brand manager at Kimberly-Clark. "We found a way to bring innovation to a category as mature as bath tissue," he says.

Kimberly-Clark is testing the tubeless Scott tissue in stores across the Northeast. If you live in that neck of the woods... look for this product and put your money where it counts! (pun intended)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

EcoLabels & Certifications: Indoor Air Quality Certifications

Today's installment of Deborah Fuller's Eco-Labels and Certifications series focuses on Indoor Air Quality Certifications.

GreenGuard Certification–VOC levels in Furniture, Materials and Finishes

  • GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified®: Product certification program for low emitting interior building materials, furnishings, and finish systems. All GREENGUARD Certified Products have been tested for their chemical emissions performance and can be found in the GREENGUARD Online Product Guide.
  • GREENGUARD for Children & SchoolsSM: Product certification program for low emitting interior building materials, furnishings, and finish systems used in educational, office and other sensitive environments. GREENGUARD Children & Schools Certification sets strict emission limits on over 360 individual chemicals and requires a cap on the total level of all VOC emissions.

Contributes to: USGBC –LEED credits MRc4.5 Systems Furn & Seating
GREENGUARD is a for profit organization; the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute is a not-for-profit organization.

Green Seal - VOC Levels in Paints & Coatings

Green Seal certified products meet science-based environmental certification standards that are credible and transparent. Green Seal utilize a life-cycle approach. Green Seal is recognized by the USGBCas the certification system for Paints and Coatings.Products only become Green Seal certified after rigorous testing and evaluation, including on-site plant visits Green Seal provides science-based environmental certification standards that are credible, transparent, and essential in an increasingly educated and competitive marketplace. A 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, Green Seal issued its first environmental standards in 1991-2, and the first product certifications were completed in 1992.

Contributes to: USGBC –LEED credits EQ 4.2 Paints & Coatings
Green Seal is a non profit organization.

Blue Angel - VOC Levels in Office Equipment
The world's first eco-labeling program, Blue Angel, was created in 1977 to promote environmentally sound products, relative to others in the same group categories. The Basic Criteria apply to components of desktop computers, including workstations consisting of controller (console), keyboard and monitors, copiers, printers and plotters.
Blue Angel certification for computers is primarily concerned with waste avoidance and reuse potential. The criteria for awarding the Blue Angel include:

  • the efficient use of fossil fuels
  • alternative products with less of an impact on the climate
  • reduction of greenhouse gas emission
  • conservation of resources
  • once approved, eco-labeled products are reviewed every two or three years to reflect state-of-the-art developments in ecological technology and product design.

Contributes to: USGBC –LEED credits EQ 5 Chemical & Pollutant Source
Blue Angel is a government agency (Germany)

SCAQMD –South Coast Area Quality Management District –VOC levels in Adhesives & Sealants
The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) (AQMD) is the air pollution control agency for all of Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. This is the second most populated urban area in the United States and one of the smoggiest. AQMD is committed to undertaking all necessary steps to protect public health from air pollution, with sensitivity to the impacts of its actions on the community and businesses.
NOTE: this is not a certification but a governing agency that regulates VOC’s. The USGBC has adopted this standard for all Adhesives and Sealants.

Contributes to:USGBC –LEED credits EQ 4.1 Adhesives & Sealants
SCAQMD is a government agency (California)

Floor Score
FloorScore, developed by the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) in conjunction with Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), tests and certifies hard surface flooring and flooring adhesive products for compliance with rigorous indoor air quality emissions requirements. Individual volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are evaluated using health-based specifications. Flooring and adhesives that earn FloorScore certification earn a legitimately enhanced market position, distinguished by the FloorScore certification label.

Contributes to: USGBC –LEED credits EQ 4.3 Flooring Systems
Floor Score is an industry organization

SCS Indoor Advantage Gold
The emphasis on individual VOCs rather than on total VOC concentration is one of the features that distinguish the SCS Indoor Advantage™ Gold program. The health risks associated with individual VOCs vary, making some more of a concern than others. Likewise, this emphasis on individual VOCs encourages manufacturers to identify and address the sources of chemical contaminants in their manufacturing process and enables them to establish specifications for the materials and components they purchase.

Contributes to: USGBC –LEED credits EQ 4.1 Adh& Sealants, EQ 4.2 Paints & Coating, EQ 4.3 Comp. Wood, EQ 4.5 Furniture
SCS Indoor Advantage Gold is a for profit organization

Carpet & Rug Institute Green Label Plus
Today, indoor air quality (IAQ) is an important environmental consideration, especially since we spend approximately 90 percent of our time indoors. Green Label Plus is the certification standard that the USGBC requires for carpet, carpet tiles, carpet pad and adhesives to help specifies identify products with very low emissions of VOCs.

Contributes to: USGBC –LEED credits EQc 4.3 Carpet
Carpet & Rug Institute is a non profit trade organization

Check back soon for the next installment: Wood Forestry Certifications

Thursday, November 11, 2010

EcoLabels & Certifications: An Introduction

This post is the first in a series on EcoLabels & Certifications, courtesy of HOK's Deborah Fuller (RID, IDDA, LEED AP BD+C). Through this series, Debi attempts to clairfy the confusion with green certifications, eco-labels, and green logos, and share how to use them in sustainable design (and the LEED documentation process).

Even if you're not a designer or involved in any LEED projects, this series will help you sort through all those labels - find out what's for real, what's not, and what it all means!

What is an "eco-label"?
  • According to Consumer Reports, an "eco-label" is a seal or logo indicating that a product has met a set of environmental or social standards. But, who monitors these claims, and how do you know they are legitimate?
  • According to the Global Ecolabelling Network, "ecolabelling" is a voluntary method of environmental performance certification and labeling that is practiced around the world.
  • According to Wikipedia, an "ecolabel" is a labeling system for consumer products (excluding food and medicine) that are made in a fashion that avoids detrimental effects on the environemnt. Many (but not all) ecolables are not directly connected to the firms that manufacture or sell the ecolabeled products. Just as for the quality assurance labeling systems, it is of imperitive importance that the labeling entity is clearly divided from and independent of the manufacturers. All ecolabeling is voluntary, mneaing that they are not mandatory by law.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has identified three broad types of voluntary labels:

  • Type I- a voluntary, multiple-criteria based, third party program that awards a license that authorizes use of environmental labels on products indicating overall environmental preferability of a product within a particular product category based on lifecycle considerations
  • Type II - informative environmental self-declaration claims
  • Type III - voluntary programs that provide quantified environmental data of a product, under pre-set categories of parameters set by a qualified third party and based on life cycle assessment, and verified by that or another qualified third party.

What is Greenwash?

(green'wash', -wôsh') –verb: the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.

In December 2007, environmental marketing company, Terrachoice, gained national press coverage for releasing a study called "The Six Sins of Greenwashing," which found that 99% of 1,018common consumer products randomly surveyed for the study were guilty of greenwashing.

What is Certification?

Dictionary Definition: cer·ti·fi·ca·tion; Function: noun
1. the act of certifying.
2. the state of being certified.
3. a certified statement.
4. A standard set of guidelines and criteria against which a product can be judged.

Because green certifications or eco-labels are voluntary, green product certifications are showcases for manufacturers genuinely interested in being taken seriously by the architectural and design community, facility managers and owners who want to purchase products with verified green claims.

Three Levels of Certification

  • First Party Certifications – declarations that have not be tested or verified. These are also referred to as “Trade Association Labels." Most of these consist of marketing claims, product specifications, and material data safety sheets.
  • Second Party Certifications –more credible by involving a trade association or firm that sets a standard and verifies claims.
  • Third Party Certifications: conducts independent testing and awards certifications. Consensus negotiation process. No vested interest in product. These are also referred to as “Independent” certification organizations that establish high standards for product testing. These certifications are the most robust and the measure of quality control is often ANSI-approved, which verifies the certifier’s objectivity.

Who is the "Watch Dog" for Green Certifications and Labels?
Currently there is no overall governing agency that monitors the eco-labels,certifications or green product labels. The USGBC does not endorse anyparticular products, however they do recognize certain organizations andcertifications and labels with the LEED certification process.

Many organizations are trying to get the federal government orthe EPA to act as the “watch dog” for these claims but as of now this is not happening. So we have to rely on credible organizations that have unbiased opinions to help us make decisions regarding these claims.

This series will be divided into a number of topics:

  • Indoor Air Quality Certifications
  • Wood Forestry Certifications
  • Furniture Certifications
  • Energy Certifications
  • Carpet Certifications
  • Green Housekeeping Certifications
  • Textile Certifications
  • Multiple Attribute Certifications

A snapshot of those, for readers anxious to see exactly what we're going to cover:

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