NSF International, an independent global organization that writes standards, tests and certifies products for the commercial flooring, construction, food, water and consumer goods industries, collaborated with multiple flooring trade associations to develop a Product Category Rule (PCR) for the flooring industry. This flooring PCR provides both a science-based and internationally recognized method for reporting the environmental impact of resilient, carpet, laminate, tile, and wood flooring products.
Product Category Rules define how to conduct a life cycle assessment (LCA) for a product group and what data to include in the resulting report, known as an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). LCAs measure inputs, outputs and environmental impacts of a product across its lifespan. The EPD is the third-party-verified report that functions like a food nutrition label to explain the data generated from a life cycle assessment.
The flooring PCR was established in accordance with international environmental management guidelines (ISO 14025) through the NSF National Center for Sustainability Standards (NCSS). The NCSS utilized an open process to develop the flooring PCR with participation from flooring manufacturers, suppliers, regulatory agencies, environmental organizations and end users.
Trade organizations involved in the development of the flooring PCR include:
- Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI)
- National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA)
- North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA)
- Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI)
- Tile Council of North America (TCNA)
Both the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) and Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) have a history of participation and collaboration with NSF’s National Center of Sustainability Standards. Respectively, they participated in the development of the sustainability assessment standard for resilient flooring (NSF/ANSI 332) and for carpet (NSF/ANSI 140). Both of these standards utilize life cycle assessments to support certification.
According to Bill Freeman, consultant to the Resilient Floor Covering Institute, “Product Category Rule development provides the necessary foundation for life cycle assessment reporting and Environmental Product Declarations of flooring materials. All three are essential to lend credibility to environmental data and provide our customers with a comprehensive tool to evaluate the environmental impacts of their flooring products.”
“NSF International’s PCRs and EPDs provide industries and organizations with a scientifically verified, and internationally-accepted method of supporting environmental product claims,” said Tom Bruursema, General Manager of NSF International’s Sustainability division. “Professionals that specify and purchase these products now have verified, science-based data to use in analyzing and selecting environmentally preferable products.”
The NSF NCSS has developed PCRs and American national sustainability standards for a wide range of product categories, including chemicals, commercial furnishings, flooring, building products and materials, with more in development including water treatment and distribution systems.
NSF Sustainability helps companies build a portfolio of sustainable products and spans the complete PCR/LCA/EPD process. NSF can support LCA development, validate LCA and EPD data, and provide third-party verification of final EPD reports. Other LCA-based programs include Carbonfree product certification, which allows companies to demonstrate the carbon neutrality of their products.