Green Building Product Certifications: Getting What You Need, Really!

So we didn’t take the test and didn’t download the booklet but for those who need this, we thought we would post it, along with Penny Bonda’s comments. We do hope you will find this helpful. We will review it but you might finish it before us. And actually, we heard there are over 450 certifications available. Will the real number ever be known? This article was originally posted on

By Penny Bonda

Hey, greenies. How about a belated holiday present–one that is truly relevant to your work, will cut through confusion and generally make your workday significantly easier?

The experts at BuildingGreen have put together a new report, Green Building Product Certifications, an 87-page PDF guide that gives you a bird’s-eye view of the certification world and helps you steer clear of irrelevant claims and focus on what’s important. Really, it does that, building sector-by-sector and within multiple product groups.

Green Building Certification Report

The Table of Certifications reviewed in the report seems long but it only covers a fraction of the standards, labels, programs and certifications out there–over 300 according to some.  It’s so messy, the report says, “The panoply of logos invoking green images has led some to call it the ‘NASCAR Effect’ for the racecars that are peppered with sponsors’ logos.” A lack of focused goals, consensus on what really matters and questions of reliability add to the confusion.

The report, thankfully, zeroes in on the certifications most relevant to building products in North America and provides loads of other useful information. Most of us are confused by the differences between labels, standards and certifications and the differences in the different types of each.

Each category–energy, water, IAQ, for example, begins with an overview of the issues including important definitions–let’s say the difference between VOC content and VOC emissions. Next, a table of the major certifications for easy comparisons, followed by detailed evaluations of each, which ends with “BuildingGreen’s Quick Take,” where the editors pass on their personal views.

For example, “Greenguard is a widely recognized and trusted label with over 200,000 products certified–but don’t confuse the original Greenguard Indoor Air Quality with the far more stringent Greenguard Children and Schools label.” Good to know for the uninformed.

Scattered throughout the report are snippets of information on relevant topics: biodegradability, the forest certification controversy, how LEED fits in to the whole thing, and the ever-confusing issue of LCA. It ends with a short peek into what’s ahead; hint-more efforts at consolidation.

The report is beautifully organized and easy to use. Great graphics! Yes, it costs a very modest $79, but it’s truly a gift.

This entry was published on January 20, 2011 at 11:54 am. It’s filed under Green Certification, Interior Design, Sustainable Building and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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