While the green building materials industry has flourished, the labeling of green materials is disparate, confusing, and complex. Man certification programs are available for various products used in buildings such as Green Seal, Energy Star, the Carpet and Rug Institute green label, Blue Angel and many others (GreenSeal 2008; EPA and DOE 2009; CRI 2010; RALgGmbH 2010). Many labels are often based on single criteria and may be required by law, such as flammable and toxic, for a product (James 1997). Marketing schemes often involve product information with generic claims of environmentally safe, recyclable and biodegradable (Howett 1991).
Green labels are available for a variety of products used in buildings. The products evaluated for this research were carpets, paints and linoleum flooring. Homeowners are often concerned with the indoor environmental quality of their residences; carpets, paints and linoleum flooring are target products for improving air quality in homes. Thus these products were selected for further research. Further, the three different products (carpets, paints, linoleum flooring) have varied labeling systems with separate requirements for achieving the respective label.
Most labels are voluntary, third party certifications, which mean they require an impartial organization to review the products that willingly choose their label. Some labels establish minimum content or emissions requirement for certain compounds like volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde and other harmful items, used either in manufacturing of the product or in some cases emitted when the product is in use. Some green labeling organizations like the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) have various levels of labeling such as platinum, gold, and silver with platinum being the highest level a building product manufacturer can obtain and provide labels based on several criteria (NSF 2010).
Projects under Sustainable Products:
Residential Life Cycle Modeling: Comparative Case Study Of Insulating Concrete Forms And Traditional Building Materials
Life cycle assessment evaluation of green product labeling systems for residential construction
Evaluation Of Energy Savings Potential Of Green Building Products
End of Life Optimization for Biopolymers