New Standard for 'Environmentally Friendly' Carpet Announced

The carpet may be "green," but it does not have to come in that color. A new standard for assessing the environmental-friendliness of carpet was announced at the 2007 Greenbuild International Conference, held Nov. 7-9 in Chicago.

The new sustainability standard, approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), addresses chemicals and materials used in manufacturing carpet, the energy used in production, the use of recycled or bio-based content, methods of disposal and/or reuse and the overall environmental performance of manufacturers.

"The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards for buildings suggested that standards were an effective strategy for encouraging competition and providing an objective way of evaluating sustainability claims made in the marketplace," said Matthew Realff, an associate professor in Georgia Institute of Technology's (Georgia Tech) School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering who served as chair of the committee that developed the standard.

This new standard aims to help consumers sort out the complex sustainable attributes and encourage manufacturers and their suppliers to seek out or develop environmentally preferable processes, practices, power sources and materials.

NSF International (http://www.nsf.org), an ANSI-accredited standards development body, created the standard, and it was approved by a committee consisting of carpet and rug manufacturers, end users such as interior design professionals, state agencies responsible for environmentally preferable product procurement practices, academics and non-governmental organizations.

The sustainability standard builds on earlier efforts by the carpet industry to address environmental issues. The Green Label certification program developed by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) that required carpets to meet emissions criteria for volatile organic compounds and other chemicals is part of the new standard.

Silver, gold and platinum certification levels will be awarded to manufacturers based on the number of points earned, with a total of 114 points possible. In addition, some categories mandate that specific requirements be met to achieve the higher certification levels.

Matthew Realff: http://www.chbe.gatech.edu/fac_staff/faculty/realff.php

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