Hardwood Certifications for Going Green

From the food you buy at grocery stores or restaurants to the medicines you trust to aide your illnesses, consumers always look for items that have certifications to prove they are safe for themselves and those they love. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) are two of the most notable organizations that grant these certifications. With all the worry about what is best for your personal well-being, why would you not look out for the well-being of your next project?

Much like the FDA and CDC, certified products are rapidly becoming a commodity in the construction industry with the continued growth of LEED and “Green Build” projects across the world. Some products in the marketplace have several types of certifications, whether they are for floor coverings or walls.

Common certifications for wood and wood flooring include Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Floor Score, and Health Product Declaration (HPD). Each certification stands for its own promise that the product you specify has its own standards to meet before being installed on a future project. Now, what exactly are all these certifications? How would it be helpful to know and understand what these certifications are when specifying a job?

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

FSC was created in 1993 by a volunteer group who wanted to help preserve our future forests. Their stated mission is to “promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests”. The certification associated with this organization is called a “chain of custody” document, that traces the product from forest to the floor. This custody document ensures that through each stage the material undergoes it is always in the hands of a company or organization that has agreed to keep our forests safe. FSC uses these steps to address such issues as illegal logging, deforestation, and global warming which have plagued the lumber industry for decades. FSC believes that managed forests that are up to the FSC standards are beneficial to both local and regional communities as they assist in providing cleaner air and water as well as contributing to mitigating the effects of climate change.

FloorScore

Floor Score is a certification that ensures flooring products are in compliance with indoor air quality emissions requirements adopted by California. Many products on the market contain and emit harmful amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air that includes allergens, dust, and even formaldehyde emissions, all of which are carcinogenic. Once these products are in a space, the chemicals still in the product can affect the quality of the air around it. A Floor Score certification allows a consumer to know that the materials they are using will address these air quality issues and ensure a healthy environment.

Health Product Declaration (HPD)

HPD is a transparency document used to identify all content that goes into creating a product. This allows clear communication between the manufacturer and the consumer on what chemical compounds go into each product. Each HPD document will break down and point out any components of a formula that do not meet Green Business Certification Inc (GBCI) standards and are called out as “red-list” items. This open-book strategy assists both the consumer as well as the manufacturer from coming across possible issues with aforementioned “red-list” items on a project after installation.  An HPD can be verified by GBCI if it corresponds with what is required of the Green Build standards.

With the growing necessity of LEED and Green Build manufacturers and products, consumers are becoming more aware of the benefits to these and many other types of certifications. Who wouldn’t want a safer home or office space? The certifications are more than just a piece of paper, they bring a peace of mind in knowing that the products are not only good to protect their project but are also a move to protect the environment as well.