Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is the most rigorous international standard for responsible forestry. FSC certified forests conserve biological diversity, water resources and crucial ecosystems. The FSC standard also upholds worker rights and supports economic prosperity in surrounding communities. The FSC Chain of Custody certification ensures that certified wood products are tracked from forest to final product (and if applicable, that qualified recycled materials are used), adding legitimacy to the FSC claim throughout the supply chain.
FloorScore® is a third-party certification developed in collaboration with the Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) and the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI). To be certified, a product is placed in a chamber and examined for a total of fourteen days. A product emissions test is completed where 35 individual volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as formaldehyde and chloroform, are evaluated to see if they meet the strict indoor air quality thresholds set forth by the California Section 01350 program. All VOCs tested are target VOCs which are known to be harmful to human health. Therefore, it is important that products are tested to ensure safety. Products eligible for FloorScore certification include but are not limited to the following: Hardwood Engineered Flooring, Bamboo Flooring, Laminate Flooring, Raised Flooring, Underlayments, Wall Base, Cork Flooring, and Flooring Adhesives.
GREENGUARD is a third-party certification developed by Underwriters Laboratories
Environment. A GREENGUARD certification helps consumers identify interior products and materials that have low chemical emissions. The goal is to improve indoor air quality and public health. To obtain GREENGUARD certification, each product is kept in a dynamic environmental chamber for one to two weeks. After one or two weeks, the certifying agencies test the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) levels in the chamber. If the emission levels are low, the products earn their certification.
It is important to note that GREENGUARD has two tiers of certification: Greenguard Gold or Greenguard Certification mark. The Greenguard Gold adheres to even stricter standards than the Greenguard certification criteria. For example, the Greenguard Certification allows 500 μg/m3 (micrograms per cubic meter of air) total VOCs. This is much more than the Greenguard Gold limit of only 220 μg/m3 total VOCs. The Gold standard even checks for additional chemicals. A consumer should focus on the Greenguard Gold Certification if they live with children, the elderly, or someone with a weak immune system. It is also a good idea to focus on Greenguard Gold Certification if one is building schools or healthcare facilities.
Health Product Declarations (HPDs)
Health Product Declarations (HPDs) are disclosures of the contents that are in a product as delivered to the consumer and their associated health hazards. They disclose the potentially harmful chemicals in a product by comparing the content of that product to sets of priority “hazard” lists based on the GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals and other various lists from governmental agencies. HPDs are self-created by the manufacturer of the product, the company responsible for the final product, or a consultant using the HPD Builder. They have become an important reporting tool in green building standards such as LEED® and the WELL Building Standard™.
HPDs are created following the guidance of the HPD Open Standard. To complete an HPD, the following information is necessary:
- Inventory of all substances/ingredients present in the final product, identified by a Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) number that represents at least 0.1% of the total product weight
- Information about recycled content used in the product
- Information about the role that each substance plays in the product i.e.: binder, adhesive, pigment, etc.
- information about VOC Content (if the product is liquid or wet applied) and VOC emissions and other testing related to environmental impact or human health
The HPD-Collaborative is an organization which helps manufacturers develop and publish their own HPDs. To see published HPDs, please visit HPD Public Repository where you will find over 7000 published HPDs.
Cradle to Cradle Certified®
The Cradle to Cradle Certified® Product’s framework was created by William McDonough and Dr. Michael Braungart after the publication of their book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. Cradle to Cradle Certified® is an internationally recognized measure of safer, more sustainable products made for the circular economy. From fragrances to flooring, t-shirts and jeans to water bottles and window treatments, thousands of products are Cradle to Cradle Certified®. This certification ensures that the product’s raw materials are reused or returned to nature. The Cradle to Cradle Certified® Products Innovation Institute assess the product and provides feedback. Each product is judged on five different aspects: Material Health, Material Reutilization, Renewable Energy and Carbon Management, Water Stewardship, and Social Fairness. There are five levels of certification: Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. To be certified at a certain level, a product must meet the minimum criteria for that level in all five criteria categories. The criteria in each category becoming increasingly demanding with each level of certification. However, a company can gradually improve their product from Basic all the way to Platinum. Even if a product doesn’t become certified, these assessments are a great way to evaluate how a product can improve!
Living Product Challenge
The Living Product Challenge (LPC) is a framework for manufacturers to create products that are healthy, inspirational, and give back to the environment. Living products are “challenged” to be informed by principles of biomimicry and biophilia, to be made using processes powered exclusively by renewable energy, to improve one’s quality of life, and to be both beautiful and functional. The LPC is first a philosophy and advocacy tool, and then a certification. There are three levels of certifications: the Living Product Certification, the Living Product Petal Certification, and the Living Product Imperative Certification. These third-party certifications are conducted by various companies including GreenCircle Certified, TerraGenesis, WAP Sustainability, SCS Global Services, and Likolab.
LPCs focus on categories such as water, energy, climate, waste, and ecological impacts. There are seven performance categories known as Petals: Place, Water, Energy, Health and Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty. Within these seven petals are 20 Imperatives. Overall, LPC’s goal is to create living products that are healthy and free of toxins, are socially responsible and respectful of the rights of workers and have a net positive and benefit both people and the environment.