In a survey of the top 100 architectural and design firms (Interior Design, June 2010), specifiers indicated that 45% of their projects follow LEED guidelines. That figure shoots up to 86% for government projects, 78% for education and 64% for healthcare.
Residential buyers also are looking for sustainable products. Driven by growing environmental consciousness, they are seeking sustainability verification before buying. But in a market awash in green claims, it is often difficult and time-consuming to identify and compare sustainability attributes of products.
The Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) has joined NSF to develop the ANSI/NSF 332 Sustainability Assessment Standard for Resilient Floor Coverings and provide more clarity in identifying green products.
The purpose of the standard is to establish information that is verifiable, accurate, and clear about environmental and social aspects associated with the production of resilient floor coverings. The standard establishes the consistent evaluation and determination of environmentally preferable and sustainable resilient floor coverings. It includes relevant criteria across the product’s life cycle, from raw material extraction through manufacturing, use, and end-of-life management
The standard, released in March 2010, is now being used by manufacturers to certify the sustainability attributes of resilient flooring. Floor covering retailers should look for the ANSI/NSF 332 certification on manufacturers’ labels and product literature and point this out to customers. As sustainability claims continue to inundate the market, certification allows specifiers/consumers to make better informed decisions when it comes to understanding and purchasing products. ANSI/NSF 332 covers vinyl composition tile, sheet vinyl flooring, vinyl tile, rubber sheet flooring, rubber tile, linoleum sheet and tile, polymeric flooring, and resilient wall base and stair treads.
ANSI/NSF 332 uses a point-based system in which products achieve one of four levels of certification: conformant, silver, gold or platinum – with conformant status meeting entry level criteria and platinum adhering to the most strenuous requirements.
The standard has been designed to satisfy the following criteria: product design, product manufacturing, long-term value, end of life management, corporate governance and innovation.
Product design encourages manufacturers to integrate environmental and life-cycle thinking into the product(s) design process.
Product manufacturing encourages manufacturers to quantify the environmental impacts from their manufacturing, and then act to reduce or remove those impacts.
Long-term value encourages manufacturers to maximize product(s) longevity.
End of life management ensures that existing and new resilient flooring products can be collected, processed, recycled, and/or composted within the existing materials recycling infrastructure.
Corporate governance encourages corporate social responsibility in the forms of providing a desirable workplace, being involved in the local community and demonstrating financial health.
Innovation gives manufacturers the opportunity to be awarded points for exceptional performance above the requirements set forth in other areas of the standard.
The standard is built upon scientific principles including the ISO 14000 series on life cycle standards, and was developed to document and improve the sustainability profile of resilient floor coverings using established and/or advanced scientific principles, practices, materials, and standards.
ANSI/NSF 332 represents the next generation of product sustainability assessment standards. It builds upon the work done by the carpet and furniture industries to develop ANSI standards for sustainable products. The multi-stakeholder development of the standard means it encompasses a broad set of interests while balancing the need for robust performance with manufacturer capabilities. The widespread adoption of the standard by manufacturers and the marketplace will help the resilient flooring industry in its drive towards more sustainable products.
For more information on ANSI/NSF 332 and products certified to this standard, contact RFCI at (706) 882.3833 or visit www.rfci.com.