Three new 'Green' product programs rolling out 
Credit: Steelcase Inc. 

CHICAGO & LAS VEGAS --- Green standards and pilot programs signaling a new era of transparency, uniformity, verification and accountability were announced at the 2011 NeoCon and more announcements are expected in July at the AWFS Fair in Las Vegas.

The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association, International (BIFMA) announced at the 2011 NeoCon held in Chicago, June 13-15, that it will collaborate with NSF International to develop product category rules to help the furniture industry develop sustainability claims aimed at improving green standards and programs.

Product category rules usually require establishing a life cycle assessment, 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.

LEED Pilot Credit 43

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) also announced at NeoCon that it has developed a new Pilot Credit for Certified Products. The LEED "Pilot Credit 43: MR - Certified Products is posted on the LEED Pilot Credit Library. The credit outlines the future of certified products in LEED and, for the first time recognizes the level

Certification Program for furniture sustainability. The Pilot Credit contains an initial list detailing certifications which would contribute to Label/EPD claims. The credit was developed with input from several experts including the EQ subgroup, MR TAG, staff, and others. It is available for use now.

UL Environment Inc., a unit of Underwriters Laboratories, says it is among the first organizations whose services help building products qualify for the LEED Pilot Credit 43, Certified Products. Projects earn points that contribute to meeting the LEED requirements and qualified products evaluated can contribute extra innovation points toward LEED certification, according to UL Environment.

The recently released pilot credit, which serves as a trial run credit before its formal adoption into the LEED rating system, rewards LEEDS projects for using products whose life cycles, ingredients, and other environmental attributes are high performing. Steve Wenc, president of UL Environment, has high praise for the development. "This move toward increased performance, transparency, authenticity and third-party verification of manufacturers' claims will help transform the market," he said. Doors, office furniture and panel systems, and flooring are among the product types that qualify under the new pilot credit.

CPA to debut program launch at AWFS

The Composite Panel Association (CPA) is readying the launch of its new Eco-Certified Composite (ECC) Product Certification Program at the AWFS Fair, July 20-23 in Las Vegas. The ECC, a life cycle-based sustainability standard for unfinished composite wood panels, will supplant the CPA's current Environmentally Preferable Product (EPP) Program. The CPA said the ECC "has been developed to provide certification of demonstrably environmentally attributes through the assessment of the following criteria: carbon storage, localized use of the renewable resource, recycled and/or recovered furnish, adherence to specific formaldehyde emission standards, wood furnish sustainability and responsible wood fiber sourcing."

An ECC Value-Added Program will replace the existing EPP Downstream Program and provide a mechanism for consumers to purchase environmentally responsible products such as cabinets and furniture made with particleboard, MDF, and other certified composite wood panels. The Value-Added Program will be made available to fabricators, laminators and distributors.

Posted by Jo-Ann Kaiser

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