CHICAGO --  The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Assn. Intl (BIFMA) announced it will collaborate with NSF International to develop product category rules to help the furniture industry develop trustworthy sustainability claims. Ann Arbor, MI-based NSF is an ANSI-accredited developer of more than 75 American National standards.

BIFMA, which issued the announcement at the NeoCon business furnishings show now running in Chicago, says the National Center for Sustainability Standards founded by NSF, will serve as the program operator for developing the furniture product category rules.

The rules are intended to help meet a growing demand for science-based support to verify environmental product claims, says BIFMA, allowing its furnishings manufacturer members to avoid greenwashing. Product category rules define how to conduct a life cycle assessment for a particular product group and what to include in the resulting report.

Such rules are usually require establishing a life cycle assessment, or LCA, which measures inputs, outputs and environmental impacts of a product across its lifespan, from cradle to grave. This permits development of an environmental product declaration, or EPD, which is the ISO-compliant third-party-verified report that functions like a nutrition label to explain the data generated from a life cycle assessment.

“Product category rules and, ultimately, environmental product declarations will give customers a uniform way to evaluate the full array of environmental impacts of products,” says BIFMA executive director Thomas Reardon.

Adopted by European countries and growing in recognition in the U.S., PCRs and EPDs provide an international method of communication to compare and report a product’s environmental impact throughout its entire life cycle. In addition to the BIFMA collaboration, the NCSS is also working with several flooring trade associations on the first North American PCR for resilient, carpet, laminate, tile, and wood flooring products.

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