Feature Article

Behind the Logos: Understanding Green Product Certifications

The number of environmental product standards and certifications is growing rapidly, putting numerous different "green" logos on products. But which ones can you trust?

January 2, 2008

The more self-evident a product’s attributes are, the less they need to be verified with certification. Lumber doesn’t need certification of its wood content, for example, but certification is helpful for distinguishing forest products that were sustainably harvested in responsibly managed forests, since their origin isn’t immediately evident. Similarly, a manufacturer of furniture that doesn’t emit formaldehyde benefits when an accredited third party verifies its product’s performance and gives it a seal of approval. When green products are visually indistinguishable from their conventional cousins, “the only way you’re going to peel away the onion is by certification,” says Brandon Tinianov, Ph.D., P.E., of View, Inc., a manufacturer of dynamic glazing products.