Common Green Labels

August 20, 2007
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LEED: The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System. Recent revisions have made the program more adaptable and flexible to different uses. (See article at left.)

Greenguard: A proprietary rating system developed by the Greenguard Environmental Institute to certify products and materials with low chemical and particle emissions, commonly known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). An air quality standard often used to identify products that meet certain LEED and regulatory standards, it is not itself a “green” standard.

FSC Chain of Custody: The Forest Stewardship Council provides this certification through private, for-profit auditors to show that forest products come from operations meeting an international consensus of sustainable practices, commonly known as “well-managed forests.”

MBDC Cradle to Cradle Certification: One of two standards recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council, this is a proprietary certification managed by Virginia firm, MBDC, the brainchild of sustainability pioneers William McDonough and Michael Braungart. Products are measured: certified products use environmentally safe and healthy materials, are designed for recycling or composting, are efficient in use of energy and water, and institute strategies for social responsibility. The process has been criticized for lack of transparency and objectivity.

Green-e: A certification from the Center for Resource Solutions guaranteeing that a product has been made with or that a company uses renewable energy.

Energy Star: A program of the federal Environmental Protection Agency certifying that products from toaster ovens to homes meet certain energy-efficiency thresholds. It is not itself a “green” standard.

Smart: One of two standards recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council, this is a consensus standard managed by the Institute for Market Transformation to Sustainability that examines the environmental, social and economic benefits of building products, fabric, apparel, textiles and flooring.

LCA: Life cycle assessment audits are available through a number of for-profit and non-profit organizations. Like a nutritional chart for environmental impact, this assessment is a comprehensive list of the energy invested in and the effects of a product’s materials, manufacturing, use and disposal. Upcoming revisions of the LEED standard will likely use this model.

ISO 14000/14001: An ISO framework for a company to develop an environmental management system and the means by which it can be third-party audited.

Clean Corporate Citizen: A program of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality that provides environmentally conscious Michigan companies a streamlined permitting process and public recognition.

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