Dear Industry Colleagues,

“Green” and “Environmentally Friendly” have become buzzwords in the building products industry. Truly, sustainable building products are increasingly sought-after for both commercial and residential building projects. More and more owners and developers want to build “green” to improve their image and reduce potential liability for health problems resulting from allergens that may be an ingredient of certain products. Bad indoor air quality can cause anything from eye irritations to allergies and beyond.

If you doubt the popularity of “Green” products, just think to yourself “How many of those curlicue fluorescent light bulbs – CFLs - do I see on store shelves today compared to three or four years ago?”  However, “caveat emptor” (let the buyer beware) that not all green claims are 100% proven.  We all know the truth gets stretched by many a marketer trying to sell a product. Companies often tout “Green” but can’t substantiate their claims with verifiable data. Their environmental advertising statements are often vague, suggesting they are “saving the world from global warming” but when pressed hard, have no way to prove it. So how do you know if the product you’re purchasing is truly recycled or will not make you sneeze? It’s easier than you might think: look for a symbol or seal that can prove certification by an independent lab or industry organization.

There are three generally recognized methods of certification a manufacturer can use.

1. First-party certification is essentially self-certification, with the manufacturer certifying the material itself, which can raise questions about the evaluation parameters and how any testing was conducted.

2. Second-party certification results from assessment by a trade association or other organization.

3. Third-party certification – generally the most thorough and rigorous – uses unbiased, independent laboratory testing or detailed evaluations of claims that cannot be verified through testing. Energy Star, which certifies consumer electronics, and the Forest Stewardship Council, which certifies sustainably managed forests, are two generally well-known third-party certifiers.

Many reputable manufacturers take the time and spend the money to get third-party certification which helps define and measure green buildings in the LEED Green Building Rating System. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a green building certification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED is a nationally accepted benchmark for design, construction, and operation of high performance buildings. One reputable environmental certification program is available through Scientific Certification System (SCS). SCS has certified hundreds of companies and thousands of products for indoor air quality and recycled content.

MP Global Products, known for their most popular flooring underlayment product “QuietWalk” has been manufacturing “green” products since before it was trendy. MP Global has now introduced a new acoustical and crack suppressant underlayment for tile that is 100% recycled material, and is also certified to SCS’s highest level of indoor environmental quality, Indoor Advantage™ Gold. This certification, evaluates products for the 80 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) with Chronic Reference Exposure Levels established by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. Goods that meet these standards make it easier for architects and designers to determine which products can be specified for building projects such as schools, hospitals and government buildings.

Discerning architects, contractors and consumers look for products that are genuinely certified as “green”, and not just telling a green story.

Best wishes,

Al Collison