Two manufacturers of products for commercial interiors have taken a step forward toward environmental sustainability by enrolling as early adopters of The Green Standard Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) System. The system is the first ISO-compliant EPD System in the United States.
Knoll, Inc., a designer and manufacturer of branded furniture and textiles, and Shaw Industries, a commercial provider of flooring, broadloom carpets, and modular carpet tiles, have initiated the first step in the process, the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), and are moving forward with the EPD reporting process in 2009.
An Environmental Product Declaration is an international gold standard for illustrating various aspects of a product’s performance, such as life cycle impacts, human health concerns, hazardous substances, and recycled content. To meet Standard 14025 of the International Standards Organization (ISO), an EPD must be based on product criteria rules that determine what data is to be captured and how it will be measured using life cycle assessment.
With LCA as its foundation, The Green Standard EPD System is in alignment with ISO standards and best practices globally. “Our EPD System offers all U.S. stakeholders a scientifically robust platform with a user friendly interface encompassing a vast array of life cycle and other product performance information,” says Paul Firth, vice president of technology for The Green Standard and manager of the EPD System.
Demand for such information is increasing rapidly, and The Green Standard’s program gives North American manufacturers the opportunity to cost-effectively complete and communicate product performance information to a broad audience. Furthermore, The Green Standard’s comprehensive EPD System can help them meet their environmental goals.
“Each year, Knoll sets key initiatives in our journey to sustainability and takes a leadership position in establishing universal, environmental standards for our industry,” says Lou Newett, Knoll environmental, health, and safety Manager. “EPDs provide quantitative and verified descriptions of the environmental performance of our products, allowing us to communicate with clients in a manner that is clear and transparent.” Knoll will launch EPDs for Life and Chadwick task chairs with The Green Standard. Both feature minimal materials; recycled and recyclable content; environmental fabric options; and replaceable parts.
Steve Bradfield, Shaw’s corporate director of environmental affairs, agrees with Newett about the efficacy of EPDs. “Shaw became an early adopter of The Green Standard’s EPD system because of our belief that EPDs are the best way to communicate environmental impacts with transparency and credibility,” he states.
Keeping the users of the EPD System in mind, The Green Standard has developed the Gaia Product Profile, a tool for integrating diverse types of performance information into a single and comprehensive document. This Web tool provides users with a layered approach to product information, enabling them to access information according to their knowledge level, project natur, and time availability. The Gaia gives specifiers and purchasers a summary of all of the information in a full Environmental Product Declaration Report.
Architects and design professionals benefit from the Gaia and the ability to access one tool that encompasses various environmental performance data—including environmental, human health, mechanical, safety, and other performance capabilities—that can help them achieve LEED or Green Globe certification.
By using The Green Standard EPD System, institutional and individual purchasers benefit from independent, impartial assurance of a corporation’s environmental claims. It provides them with a straightforward tool they can trust as the information has been validated by a qualified third party and posted by an established NGO.
The launch of the EPD System is part of The Green Standard’s BRIGHT GREEN, BRIGHT FUTURE campaign, a yearlong educational initiative empowering manufacturers and purchasers to confidently navigate the environmental landscape while making lighter footprints.
Deborah Dunning, The Green Standard president and CEO, says that the development of an EPD system and the Gaia Product Profile is the culmination of the organization’s work over the past nine years. “We are pleased to be able to support U.S. manufacturers in becoming even more effective in the global marketplace through the development of a comprehensive EPD system. We believe that this work will meet the longstanding needs of both institutional and individual consumers throughout North America,” she says. “Moreover, since our mission is to advance global sustainability through products and practices, it is fitting that our Gaia Product Profile refers to the principle that the earth is a whole living organism, seeking to regulate itself and evolve to greater and greater degrees of harmonization.”