This guest blog post was written by Sarah Wilson, Marketing Manager for UL Environment’s Furniture business division. Sarah has worked in the marketing of products and services for the commercial interiors industry for more than 10 years. She has expertise in the testing, inspection and certification of furniture and furnishings, and recently achieved her LEED Green Associate credential.
GREENGUARD Certification is one of the mostly widely recognized eco-labels, but you might not know all the facts behind the label. Here are a few things you might not know about GREENGUARD Certification, and how it can benefit products, people and indoor environments.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air is two to five times more polluted than outdoor air, and the single most effective way to reduce indoor pollutants is to control the source of those pollutants. GREENGUARD Certified products are tested and verified to have low chemical emissions, which can aid in the creation of healthier indoor environments.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are organic chemicals that evaporate or vaporize readily at room temperature. VOCs are contained in and emitted from all types of building materials, paints, furniture and other products commonly used indoors. Be cautious of products labeled “no VOC” or “low VOC.” Despite what you might think, these labels do not refer to VOCs that can be inhaled, or VOC emissions; rather, they refer to a product’s chemical content.
VOC emissions refer to the VOCs, or chemicals, that are released into the air during or after a product’s use. VOC emissions can damage indoor air quality because airborne chemicals can be easily inhaled.
VOC content refers to the concentration of VOCs in a product—in other words, the chemicals that are used to manufacture a product. A product’s VOC content may affect its toxicity if ingested or mixed with food or drinking water, but products with low VOC content can still release, or emit, potentially harmful VOCs.
GREENGUARD Certified products are tested for more than 10,000 chemicals used in the manufacturing of products. GREENGUARD Certified products meet strict limits on the emissions of certain chemicals, and in addition, GREENGUARD Gold certified products meet strict limits on the total VOCs emitted from the product (TVOC). In fact, GREENGUARD Certified products meet some of the world’s strictest chemical emission limits, so you can feel confident that products will not contribute to poor indoor air quality.
GREENGUARD Gold certified products can contribute up to three points for furniture and furnishings within LEED version 4, as well as up to four points within LEED v3. And, all GREENGUARD Certified products have publically accessible certificates that make submittal for LEED projects easy. Look for the GREENGUARD Certified products and access certificates on UL’s Sustainable Product Guide.
GREENGUARD Certification is widely accepted in more than 450 green building programs, such as LEED, CHPS, Green Seal, and many global and municipal building programs. Specifiers and purchasers can see which building programs products contribute to, as well as the specific LEED credits they contribute to, on UL’s Sustainable Product Database.
Editor’s Note: Norix Furniture products are GREENGUARD Gold Certified. To learn more about the company’s GREENGUARD Certification, please view visit this blog post.