New Natural Interiors® scorecards are more credible with third-party certifications, but when do you make exceptions?
Q. I was excited to learn about the Natural Interiors health and environmental scorecards that are now available at Carpetland Carpet One, Buddy’s Flooring America in Beavercreek and ProSource in Cincinnati. What I like most is that most Better for People and Better for Planet designations are based on third-party certifications rather than you making those decisions and acting as the expert as several other “green” companies with icon systems do.
This is Better for Customers! But I’d like a little more information. I noticed in some cases, a product gets a check mark in the icon when there is not a third-party certification listed. How is this decision made?
A. There are two basic situations where a Better for People or Better for the Planet icon might be checked without a third-party certification. The most prominent is when a company provided proof of laboratory testing or had met self-certification criteria set by groups that set limits such as the California Air Resource Board.
The second situation is when use of a resource – such as used tires salvaged from landfills – clearly is Better for the Planet, even though the company has not gone through a certification process. The third-party certification process can be expensive, and some companies cannot yet afford or justify going through the process. If they can provide documentation, the Natural Interiors® Scorecard program seeks to be fair to these manufacturers.
Also keep in mind that some products with third-party certification such as CARB Compliant, did not get the Better for People check mark because this certification deals only with formaldehyde and not the array of other VOCs covered by GREENGUARD or FloorScore Indoor Air Quality Certification.
With all of the certifications now available and the number of companies getting certified, it seems likely that “green” product manufacturers will have to give more consideration to this process in order to stay competitive. “Green” products are supposed to contribute to healthful indoor-air quality, and it’s incumbent upon any “green” flooring manufacturer to prove it qualifies.
As you noted, retailer-created icon systems that rely on the assessments of unknown experts don’t offer the verification we wanted for this program.
So, our program relies primarily on third-party certification, but attempts to be fair by incorporating, in a few cases, certain laboratory testing results, approved self-certification programs and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) verification documents.
The scorecards will be updated twice a year, and we likely will see the number of certifications increase.®
– Nancy Kibbee is editor at www.naturalinteriors.com