You’ve read about the harmful toxins, the products that leech chemicals into our environment and the health risks these present. Now let’s discover the groups and organizations that help illuminate the path to green!
Green Product Certifications
According to the Green Building Alliance, the demand for green products has grown very rapidly, with some predicting it will reach $70 billion in sales by 2015. You may be surprised to learn that there is not a single, unified definition of what is green. This means that a multitude of groups have created various, and sometimes competing, ways of identifying green building products. This can be through labeling standards, certifications and other systems that evaluate the green claims of the products. The Green Building Alliance has created a chart that exhaustively lists the many organizations that provide some level of certification. Take a look and you will see more than thirty listings! Here are a few:
Energy Star was created by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is a voluntary labeling program that promotes energy-efficient products and appliances that help to reduce greenhouse gases.
The ECOLOGO Product Certification program (interestingly, also acquired by Underwriters Laboratory) rigorously tests products, services and packaging to assess reduced environmental impact.
Green Building Certifications
In addition to the individual green materials, we have to also consider how the building, home, or built environment performs with regard to energy (clean, efficient) and health (non-toxic, low carbon/greenhouse gases). There are a variety of certification systems for green building practices. These serve to provide us with a level of trust about the credibility, in large part because it comes from third-party certification, which provides accountability and integrity to the green claims. Here are some of the programs that focus on the built environment:
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is considered the highest standard for credibility in auditing forestry practices that are both environmentally and socially responsible, including certification for responsible Forest Management and transparent Chain of Custody.
The Rainforest Alliance is an international nonprofit organization that works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods, and they provide certification services through their RA-Cert auditing program for forestry, agriculture and carbon/climate clients.