In Search of Better Air

In Search of Better Air

Flooring industry takes steps that recognize that consumers want products that are Better for People

“I don’t really think most flooring customers really care about green,” a rep for a large hardwood manufacturer tells me. “The planet just isn’t a priority to them, particularly if an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) -certified  label  on the product is going to cost more.”

I have to ask: “Do you think they care about the other part of green – the indoor-air friendly, low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound), better for human health part?”

“Absolutely,” he says without hesitation. “That is coming up all the time now.”

This conversation, which I have had with many flooring reps and manufacturers over the past few weeks, is my unscientific confirmation of green product market research. It puts better indoor air quality and health at the top of the list of reasons people seek green interior products.

Despite this demand, identifying whether a particular flooring brand has been tested and certified to meet certain emissions standards isn’t that easy. Over the past three months, I have researched more than 100 flooring products. Only about half of them list indoor air quality certifications on their websites or elsewhere on the Internet.

This research, in part, is for the Natural Interiors® Glossary of Green Certifications.

In addition to healthier indoor air being a key goal for today’s green consumer, the market research shows that third-party indoor air quality certifications are being sought, and green claims made by retailers and manufacturers are often being rejected.

“I guess we all jumped on the green bandwagon years ago as a way to sell cool products,” another rep says. “The scientific proof part of this is important. But some manufacturers haven’t seen enough demand yet to invest in the fees to put their products through all of the testing and certifications.”

While they do not guarantee that every chemical that may be of concern is evaluated, there are now a number of certifications in place that measure and limit known hazards. These certifications and standards, include GREENGUARD, GREENGUARD Children & Schoools, FloorScore, CARB (California Air Resource Board) standards for formaldehyde emissions, California Standard/Specification 01350, CRI Green Label Plus, CRI Green Label, and Green Squared Certification.

Our glossary will also include additional multi-attribute certifications that include indoor air quality but also assess sustainability.©

Nancy Kibbee is editor at www.naturalinteriors.com

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