Fine-Tuning the Green Certification Process
Paints and coatings manufacturers also can give managers a standard, universally recognized specification format, such as the one developed by the Construction Specification Institute (CSI). This format comprises a complete, detailed list of specifications for an application, including a list of the vendor's product codes and descriptions that are certified to meet the applicable green-certification requirement.
One example of the certification process is the Green Seal certification GS-11. In addition to detailed testing and recording of physical and chemical properties, GS-11 includes print and electronic access to instructions for life-cycle management of the product. It covers three areas:
End of life. These requirements include instructions for purchasing only the needed amount, proper ventilation, recycling methods, and any available manufacturer take-back programs, including return of both the product and its packaging.
Packaging. They require 20 percent recovered material, except for the material in a take-back program; a limit on packaging of 0.01 percent heavy metals content, or one part heavy metals per 100 parts of product; and a prohibition on phthalates.
Labeling. These include: instructions for contacting local authorities to determine availability of recycling options for leftover product and packaging; guidance on using applicable take-back programs; using the Green Seal certification mark without modifying language; and a certification statement that the product meets Green Seal performance standards.
While green specification for paints and coatings involves gathering and analyzing a massive amount of information, sustainable construction and operations for facilities also raises awareness of the impact of facilities on the environment, both inside and outside. In the long run, a strong partnership between managers and the manufacturers of paints and coatings results in sustainable approaches that serve occupants better and protects the environment for the future, all with lower life-cycle costs.
Thomas A. Westerkamp is a maintenance and engineering management consultant and president of the work management division of Westerkamp Group LLC.