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The Green Guide EcoLibrary™

May 1, 2007
A panel of experts, assembled by The Green Standard.org, elected to define criteria against which building professionals can review existing and future certification programs; a process that included the creation of a comprehensive matrix of product certification programs used all over the world.
UPDATED OCTOBER 2007

The Certification Program, And Its Scope of Criteria

Matrix of Product Certification Programs in the U.S.Currently Being Used By Manufacturers and Purchasers of Building Products*
Updated October, 2007

Approved as American National Standard

Publicly Available

Free of Commercial Terms and Conditions (1)

Reproducible Science-Based Assessment Methods and Performance Thresholds

Life Cycle Scope

Requires ISO-Compliant Life Cycle Assessment

Certification Based on an Approved American National Standard

Cradle to Cradle
McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry

Energy Star
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

EPP Certification
Scientific Certification Systems

Floor Score
Scientific Certification Systems

FSC Certified
Forest Stewardship Council

GREENGUARD Air Quality Certification
GREENGUARD Environmental Institute

Green Label Plus
Carpet & Rug Institute

Green Seal
Green Seal Organization

Indoor Advantage
Scientific Certification Systems

Indoor Advantage Gold
Scientific Certification Systems

Recycled content Certification
Scientific Certification Systems

Smart Sustainable Product Standard
Market Transformation to Sustainability

Sustainable Choice (NSF 140)
Scientific Certification Systems

Draft

The Process of Auditing a Product Certification

Matrix of Product Certification Programs in the U.S.Currently Being Used By Manufacturers and Purchasers of Building Products*
Updated October, 2007

ANSI-Accredited Certification Body (CB)

Conforms to ISO 65

Free of Financial Conflict of Interest

Publicly Available Processes and Procedures

Public Appeals Process

Cradle to Cradle
McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry

Energy Star
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

EPP Certification
Scientific Certification Systems

Floor Score
Scientific Certification Systems

FSC Certified
Forest Stewardship Council

GREENGUARD Air Quality Certification
GREENGUARD Environmental Institute

Green Label Plus
Carpet & Rug Institute

Green Seal
Green Seal Organization

Indoor Advantage
Scientific Certification Systems

Indoor Advantage Gold
Scientific Certification Systems

Recycled content Certification
Scientific Certification Systems

Smart Sustainable Product Standard
Market Transformation to Sustainability

Sustainable Choice (NSF 140)
Scientific Certification Systems
The Standard Development Organization

Matrix of Product Certification Programs in the U.S.Currently Being Used By Manufacturers and Purchasers of Building Products*
Updated October, 2007

ANSI-Accredited Standard Development Organization

Openness

Balance

Consensus

Public Notice

Available Written Procedures

Cradle to Cradle
McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry

Energy Star
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

EPP Certification
Scientific Certification Systems

Floor Score
Scientific Certification Systems

FSC Certified
Forest Stewardship Council

GREENGUARD Air Quality Certification
GREENGUARD Environmental Institute

Green Label Plus
Carpet & Rug Institute

Green Seal
Green Seal Organization

Indoor Advantage
Scientific Certification Systems

Indoor Advantage Gold
Scientific Certification Systems

Recycled content Certification
Scientific Certification Systems

Smart Sustainable Product Standard
Market Transformation to Sustainability

Sustainable Choice (NSF 140)
Scientific Certification Systems

*Based on information publicly available on the Web site of each certification developer 1. See Section 3.2 of ANSI Essential Requirements available at www.ansi.org Suggested use of the matrix

Product Certification Criteria

Approach to Setting the Criteria
Rather than judging existing programs as good or bad, the panel of experts assembled by The Green Standard.org elected to define criteria against which building professionals can review existing and future certification programs, depending on their purposes. The panel was involved only in establishing the definitions and determining the criteria, not in reviewing the specific certification programs. The latter activity was conducted by staff.

The goal in taking this approach was to outline international expectations for product certification as to encourage program developers as well as users to think in terms of how products are being described and defined in the global marketplace. Given the reality that even domestic design entails global sourcing of materials, components and products, this seemed to be the most useful approach over time.

This is only a first step in a larger process of creating a comprehensive matrix of product certification programs used all over the world. The Green Standard.org plans to take the next step over the coming year. It is our hope to be able to provide the larger matrix by the time the 2008 Green Guide to NeoCon® goes to press. In the meantime, consider the current matrix of product certification programs a work in progress.

Life-Cycle of a Product Certification
There are essentially three steps involved in the creation of a product certification program. The first step is the standard setting process-determining what is to be measured in terms of scope, boundaries and units of measurement.

The second step involves documentation of the standard. This entails providing detail on what metrics to use in measuring the processes outlined in the first step.

The third step is application of the standard by institutions or individuals who certify products to the standard set. This may involve the use of tools and data for Life Cycle Assessment. The data that the tools use, and the methods they employ to connect the data to the assessment, are an important element of the evaluation and criteria of transparency and verifiability that should be applied.

Definition of "Third-Party Certification"
The first place to go for definitions is the International Standards Organization (ISO), the world's largest developer of voluntary international standards for business, government and society. ISO itself does not perform certification to its standards; does not issue certificates; and does not control certification performed independently of ISO by other organizations. Yet it does provide basic results and information on its standards at www.iso.org.

Certifications require the following:

  • A standard against which a product (Doc 65) or service (Doc 67) is certified.
  • A third-party certifier and clear certification process.
  • Validation of the certifier's expertise to manage the process with professionalism.

The next place to go for information on product certification programs is the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the not-for-profit organization that coordinates the development and use of voluntary consensus standards and represents the needs and views of U. S. stakeholders in standardization forums around the world. Although ANSI does not develop American National Standards, it does provide all interested U. S. parties with a neutral venue to come together and work toward common agreements.

Definition of "Transparency" in Production Certification Programs
A high level of transparency is needed to ensure users that a certification program is scientifically robust and has been developed and applied in alignment with established scientific and engineering principles. There are three aspects of transparency required. The first kind is transparency of process; ANSI defines the necessary features as:

  • Consensus on a proposed standard by a group or ‘consensus body' that includes representatives from materially affected and interested parties.
  • Broad-based public review and comment on draft standards.
  • Consideration of and response to comments submitted by voting
    members of the relevant consensus body and by public review
    commentators.
  • Incorporation of approved changes into a draft standard.
  • Right to appeal by any participant that believes due process principles were not sufficiently respected during the standards development in accordance with ANSI-accredited procedures of the standards developer.

Next is transparency of documentation. This entails being able to track all information collected and analyzed, the analysis processes used, and results calculated. In short, this transparence ensures that there are no hidden processes.

The third kind is transparency of the application of established scientific principles by the certifying institution and or individual. This ensures that the certifier has the expertise to handle the certification process with a high level of professionalism and that a high level of scientific principles have been applied in the application.

Suggested Use of the Matrix
The above matrix of certification tools was developed by The Green Standard.org for the primary purpose of supporting certification developers
and users in understanding key criteria used by scientists and other professionals in evaluating product performance in a fair, open and transparent manner.

It is hoped that increased awareness by all stakeholders of global standards for product certification will result in collaborative efforts to achieve standards that meet expectations of the global marketplace.

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