The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) has opened the doors of its overseas operations in Beijing, China, including the launch of its new Chinese website,

GEI's Beijing headquarters will serve the entire Asia-Pacific market -- including China, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, South Korea, the Philippines, and Thailand.

"So many products sold in the U.S. today are manufactured in China and surrounding nations," said Henning Bloech, executive director of GEI. "We saw a clear need to help those manufacturers produce high-quality, low-emitting products that create healthier indoor environments, and it just made sense to offer them assistance on their own soil. This is an incredible opportunity to make a lasting, positive impact on building products and materials that are manufactured in, sold in, and exported from the Asia-Pacific region."

Preliminary market research conducted on behalf of GEI revealed that the Chinese middle class has a growing interest in healthier living environments and a heightened concern over poor air quality. China's air pollution levels are severe, according to The World Bank, and the World Health Organization calls the state of the environment in China "a major health concern."

"Because of the severity of the outdoor air pollution in China, many families seek protection from the elements inside their homes. Unfortunately, indoor air pollution is also a major problem, so the need for pollutant source control there is critical," noted Ted Revis, who oversees GEI's China-based operations along with Melanie Chen, managing director. "The response we've gotten so far has been tremendous: already, over a dozen manufacturers have either signed up for or achieved GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certification and/or GREENGUARD Children & Schools Certification. This is a monumental step toward improving the indoor air quality of buildings in China."

A full-time on-site staff provides technical, marketing, sales, and new and ongoing customer support directly from the Beijing office to manufacturers throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Manufacturers that have already achieved GREENGUARD Certification out of the Beijing headquarters include Sheenmax (furniture); Castle Mark (furniture); Vicostone (surfacing material); Zhejiang Qianglong Seating; and Concept Furniture.