More on Greenguard

Thank you for the article on the Greenguard™ certification program (in


Vol. 12, No. 10). Unfortunately, some of the information presented in the article may be misleading. I would like to comment on a few issues you mentioned.

Greenguard certification is a complex product-evaluation program that enables specifying professionals to easily find low-emitting products that have been tested and certified by an industry-independent organization. The Greenguard standards are based on proven requirements used by the State of Washington and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and they are in no way arbitrary. These standards have been used successfully in numerous buildings throughout the country since the early nineties, and their proven effectiveness has been published in various case studies (for example, the State of Washington Air Quality Building Study prepared for EPA in 1996). There can be no doubt regarding the stringency of the Greenguard requirements because, so far, fewer than 20% of all products tested for Greenguard certification have been able to meet the requirements without making changes to the product or the manufacturing process. Greenguard does not encourage manufacturers to build custom products so they can bid on multimillion-dollar opportunities requiring low-emission performance but rather aims at fundamentally changing the way manufacturers make all of their products, so superior-performing products will be available to specifiers working on smaller projects, too.

The article compares Greenguard certification to the CA 01350 specification, which is a difficult comparison at best. CA 01350 is a building specification guideline that focuses on each specific building project, where products have to meet emission requirements based on complex calculations. This means that a product may be considered low-emitting for one building project but not for the next. Furthermore, CA 01350 is not a testing protocol; it does not provide a standardized program to address product installations, product handling, and testing methods; and it does not control product integrity and performance.

Henning Bloech

Greenguard Environmental Institute

Atlanta, Georgia

Editor’s reply:

Thank you for your comments on our article. I acknowledge that it may have been inappropriate to call the Greenguard standards “arbitrary,” as they were developed based on existing government programs. I also wish to apologize for the misinformation in our article regarding the cost of Greenguard certification.

Greenguard and California’s Section 01350 specification share the intent of reducing indoor pollution from building products. The two programs have different strengths and weaknesses, and I believe that both would benefit from closer cooperation. If the technical differences between these programs can be worked out, the building industry as a whole will benefit.

Thanks for doing a fair evaluation of the Greenguard protocol. This program has received a lot of attention in the interiors furnishing industry since the U.S. Green Building Council put the Greenguard name in the pilot program of LEED for Commercial Interiors. Unfortunately many manufacturers have misinterpreted this section and believe that the

only way to get Indoor Environmental Quality credits is with this certification. That is not the case, and hopefully the USGBC will make this entire section clearer when the next version of LEED-CI is released. Proceeding with this certification is a difficult decision for many manufacturers who are not comfortable with the facts that only one testing lab is available and that this lab (AQS) in fact created the standard and the Greenguard Environmental Institute. The costs therefore are extremely high and prohibitive for some smaller manufacturers. I would encourage the LEED-CI group to take a harder look at all these issues surrounding indoor air quality.

Cliff Goldman, President

Carnegie Fabrics

Rockville Centre, New York

Published November 1, 2003

(2003, November 1). More on Greenguard. Retrieved from https://www.buildinggreen.com/op-ed/more-greenguard

Add new comment

To post a comment, you need to register for a BuildingGreen Basic membership (free) or login to your existing profile.