Green Seal, Floorscore Among ‘Green’ Flooring Certifications
Last of 4-part article describing four steps to a sustainable floor
Following are additional third-party certifications, including Green Seal, ANSI, and Floorscore, that can help facility managers make a careful decision about “green” flooring products.
Green Seal: Although Green Seal doesn’t certify flooring products themselves, it does certify adhesives and floor cleaning products, as well as paints, coats, and sealers, says Linda Chipperfield, vice president of marketing. Its certification process focuses on a product’s lifecycle impact on human health due to, for instance, the presence of carcinogenic chemicals or reproductive toxins, or its corrosiveness.
The process also considers a product’s effect on environmental health by analyzing, for instance, how a product affects water quality when it goes through the drainage system, and whether the packaging is made of recycled or recyclable material.
Performance matters as well, Chipperfield says. “You can’t sell to this industry and have it not work.”
NSF International/American National Standards (ANSI): Two standards, NSF/ANSI 140, Sustainability Assessment for Carpet and NSF/ANSI 332, Sustainability Assessment for Resilient Floor Coverings, are relevant when assessing the sustainability of flooring. Both are multi-attribute standards that cover a number of green characteristics, including recycled content, the use of bio-based materials, and low VOCs, says Jenny Oorbeck, general manager, sustainability, with NSF International. They also consider the manufacturing process, and will look for, for instance, reductions in water and energy use.
Certification to these standards “assures consumers that the environmental impacts of the flooring product were quantified and minimized at each stage of the product’s lifecycle,” including design, manufacturing, and end of life, Oorbeck says.
Floorscore. The Floorscore certification program was developed jointly by the Resilient Floor Covering Institute and Scientific Certification Systems, which is the exclusive certification body for the program. Certification shows that a product meets the VOC emissions requirements of the California Section 01350 Program. According to the CA.gov website, “Section 01350 received wide acceptance from building materials manufacturers due to its flexibility, relative low cost, and because it is the only health-based building material specification.”
Although it’s not a certification program, LEED v4, which is scheduled to become mandatory for new LEED projects in October 2016, contains several significant changes from the previous version, LEED 2009, changes that can help facility managers evaluate the environmental impact of flooring and other products. These include the Environmental Product Declaration, or EPD, and the Health Product Declaration, or HPD. With both, the first goal is greater transparency, Landreneau says. Greater transparency should lead to materials optimization, she adds.
The Environmental Product Declaration needs to include information on the environmental impact of the acquisition of raw materials, energy use and efficiency, and the materials content, among other data. The Health Product Declaration provides a standardized way of reporting the material used in building products, and the health effects associated with them, according to information from LEED.
Landreneau acknowledges that some manufacturers are leery of publicizing the ingredients that go into their products. In lieu of disclosing this information, manufacturers can obtain a Cradle to Cradle certification. This shows that the manufacturer not only disclosed the ingredients, but had them evaluated by experts.
Facility managers looking for green flooring products have a range of options. Many perform as well as their less-green competitors, and often are available at similar prices. “Flooring is an area where we’ve seen great improvement in environmental performance,” Landreneau says.
Karen M. Kroll, a contributing editor for Building Operating Management, is a freelance writer who has written extensively about real estate and facility issues.
Photo Caption: At Southwestern Energy’s headquarters in Houston, carpet tile helps minimize the amount of materials used when replacing a trouble spot, while porcelain tile provides a hard-wearing, long-lasting flooring material.