Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ecolok Furniture: Have they out-IKEAed IKEA?

One of my best sources for great new green "stuff" is the front section of Green Building and Design (gb&d) magazine. They recently featured a company called Ecolok ( The furniture is made of interlocking pieces of solid wood. Similar to IKEA furniture, it is shipped flat... unlike IKEA furniture, it does not require any nuts, bolts, fasteners or allen wrenches.

Apparently all of their furniture is customizable (just what designers like to hear!), and you can etch in countless designs to their tabletops or shelving. I like their more minimalist designs however... this glasstop coffee table is especially nice.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tastes Great, Less... Glass?

Over the holidays my husband and I received lots of great wine. I normally focus my attention on the label around the body of the glass, but a gold label around the cork of a nice bottle of California cabernet (Three Wishes) caught my attention. The label suggested that the bottle was made of "eco-glass." Eco-Glass ( is actually a wine bottle made of 25% less glass than the typical. Less glass means less raw material needed to produce the bottle and less "weight" required to transport the wine, reducing transportation carbon emissions.

Despite the lighter bottle weight, the bottle still seemed very hefty... honestly I would never have noticed without the label. I have to wonder... how many other little changes like this could we adopt to save money and carbon footprint without feeling a thing?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

EcoLabels & Certifications: Multiple Attribute Certifications

Today is the final installment of Deborah Fuller's Eco-Labels and Certifications series. This post focuses on Multiple Attribute Certifications.

SCS-Sustainable Choice & EPP
SCS certifies selected"Environmentally Preferable Products, Services, and Technologies“ –EPP. It applies to many products besides electronics. For any product, service or technology, the SCS determination of environmental preferably starts by assessing its environmental impacts at each life-cycle stage, and SCS uses a combination of techniques to complete this assessment. These techniques include life-cycle impact assessment, supplemented by information from other scientific studies such as Environmental Impact Assessment, Risk Assessment, and Environmental Resource-based studies, and knowledge about "best available" technologies and practices in a given industry.

Examples of attributes that have been certified for various products include:

  • Recycled content
  • Recovered content
  • Salvaged wood from urban sources
  • Biodegradability
  • No Ozone depleting chemicals
  • No VOCs/Low VOCs
  • No added formaldehyde emissions
  • Organic ingredients
  • Poison-free/alternatives to poisons
  • Water efficient

Contributes to: USGBC –LEED credits MRc7 –Certified Wood
for profit organization

Cradle to Cradle (C2C)
C2C looks at multiple attributes based on cradle-to-cradle philosophy. C2C has certified a variety of building products and materials, from office chairs to piping components to a concrete admixture, as well as consumer items, including a cleaning product and a diaper.

Three key concepts for environmental design:

  • waste equals food
  • use current solar income
  • respect diversity

“Waste equals food” is the conceptual basis for the cradle-to-cradle philosophy that all products should be made using materials that can be recycled indefinitely with minimal environmental impact.

Based on ratings in each of these categories, a product can be certified by MBDC as C2C Silver, Gold, or Platinum. MBDC evaluates a product in each of the five areas, and its final score is the lowest of its five individual scores. MBDC also performs a more limited evaluation, using only the two materials categories, to certify a simple product as a “technical nutrient” or a “biological nutrient.”

Contributes to: USGBC –LEED credits ID 1.1-1.4

for profit organization

SMaRT Certified
Provide Substantial Global Benefits for Building Products, Fabric, Apparel, Textile & Flooring covering over 60% of the world’s products. Environmental, Social, & Economic:

  • Rating System: Sustainable, Sustainable Silver, Sustainable Gold & Sustainable Platinum
  • Multiple Environmental, Social, & Economic Benefits over the supplychain
  • Business Benefits: cost savings, design innovation, product differentiation, long termcustomer relationships, liability reduction
  • Market Definition of Sustainable Products
  • Life Cycle Environmental Performance Requirements for Sustainable Products
  • Social Performance Requirements for Sustainable Products over thesupply chain
  • Define Sustainable Agriculture
  • Maximum Credit/Recognition over all product stages/entire supply chain

Contributes to: USGBC –LEED credits ID 1.1-4
non profit

Green Seal
Green Seal certified products meet science-based environmental certification standards that are credible and transparent. Green Seal utilizes a life-cycle approach.

A 501(c) (3) nonprofit, Green Seal has certified products since 1992. Green Seal now provides third-party certification for a wide range of products, including paints, adhesives, lamps, chillers, windows, cleaners, and occupancy sensors. Green Seal follows the ISO process for open standard development but is not ANSI-approved.

Following ISO requirements, Green Seal considers impacts over the entire life cycle of a product in developing a standard. It then develops criteria relating to the most significant impacts for which roughly 20% of existing products have superior performance. Green Seal reviews its standards every three years and updates them when it sees a shift in the market.Green Seal’s certifications are based on data from accredited laboratories and audits of manufacturing facilities.

Contributes to: USGBC –LEED credits EQ 4.2 Paints & Coatings
non profit organization

EcoLogo is North America’s most respected and established multi-attribute environmental standard and certification mark.In a skeptical marketplace, EcoLogobuilds the trust needed by providing scientific credibility and proof of environmental leadership.

  • A founding member of the Global EcoLabelingNetwork (GEN), an association of third-party environmental performance labeling organizations dedicated to improving and promoting the eco-labeling of products and services.
  • The only North American eco-labeling program approved by GEN as meeting internationally recognized ISO 14024 requirements.
  • A multi-attribute criteria certification program developed based on the lifecycle of a product or service.

Industry organization

NSF-140-2007 Standard

In the carpet industry, The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) set out to provide the commercial market with a single easy-rating certification system for carpet and rugs. With the assistance of NSF International, a leader in standards development and product certification, a Sustainable Carpet Assessment Standard was created.

This standard for carpet includes a rating system with established performance requirements and quantifiable metrics energy and energy efficiency; bio-based, recycled content materials; environmentally preferable materials; manufacturing; and reclamation and end-of-life management.throughout the supply chain for: public health and environment; NSF 140 was designed to establish a system with varying levels of certification to define sustainable carpet.

This establishes performance requirements for public health and environment, and addresses the triple bottom line –economic-environmental-social, throughout the supply chain.NFS 140 is the first multi-attribute American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard for environmentally preferable building materials in the construction industry.

SCS Certified/BIFMA Standards
SCS Certified -Furniture brings a new level of verified environmental performance to furniture certification. Based on both environmental and social criteria set forth in the BIFMA Sustainability Standard (BIFMA SS), a product’s entire supply chain is assessed to insure that the product meets measurable milestones of environmental performance at every step of development. SCS Sustainable Choice Certification includes an evaluation of specific corporate policies and guidelines and an assessment of associated company manufacturing facilities. Products must meet rigorous, quantitative criteria in four categories: materials, energy and atmosphere, human and ecosystem health, and social responsibility.

Certification verifies a manufacturer’s commitment to environmentally and socially responsible products and business practices.

Contributes to: USGBC –LEED credits MRc4.1 –Recycled Content, MRc4.2 –Recycled Content, MRc6 –Rapid Renewable, MRc7 –Certified Wood, EQc4.5 –Furniture, ID 1.1-4 Innovation In Design
for profit organization

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