Specifying Certified Products and Materials

In this section, we describe some of the major certification programs that certify materials and products with respect to sustainability. This list is not exhaustive, but it introduces you to common certifications you might encounter in product literature, marketing materials, or elsewhere. We also discuss some other certification programs throughout this chapter where they fit better with the topic.

Scientific Certification Systems

Scientific Certification Systems works with manufacturers and businesses to offer a variety of certification programs in multiple areas. Some programs are designated under Scientific Certifi­cation Systems’ own programs, such as the calCOMPliant™ Certification, for compliance with California Air Resources Board requirements on formaldehyde emissions. Other certification pro­grams are developed in conjunction with industry organizations, such as the Resilient Floor Covering Institute and the Forest Stewardship Council to offer independent, third-party testing and verification.

Scientific Certification Systems certifications evaluate many construction products of interest to the bathroom designers. In particular, their sustainable certification programs verify recycled content, biodegradability, and chemical emissions. Further information is available at www. scscertified. com.

Cradle to Cradle Certification™

The Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Program is a third-party ecolabel that assesses a product’s safety to humans and the environment from a lifecycle perspective. The Cradle to Cradle® framework focuses on using safe materials that can later be disassembled and recycled or composted. Criteria for certification include material health, material reutilization, renewable energy use, water stew­ardship, and social responsibility.

A wide variety of products have achieved Cradle to Cradle certification. Product categories of particular interest to bathroom designers are countertop materials, flooring, insulation, lighting, and wall coverings. Further information is available at www. c2ccertified. org. Cradle to Cradle Certified™ is a certification mark licensed by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. Cradle to Cradle® is a registered trademark of McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry, LLC (see Figure 3.4).


The Ecolabel is a program of the European Union and is based on a lifecycle analysis of a product or service that is "kinder to the environment." Over 1100 licenses have been granted for prod­ucts and services meeting the Ecolabel criteria that starts with the raw material and finishes with disposal.

Currently, floor coverings, light bulbs, paints, varnishes, and some appliances are qualified for the Ecolabel. Toilets, showerheads, taps (faucets), and other appliances are under evaluation. More information is available at www. ecolabel. eu.

Certifications for Wood Products

Подпись: FIGURE 3.4 The Cradle to Cradle logo uses two Cs to emphasize the cyclical nature of the model. Подпись:There are three different certification programs that certify woods that are used in cabinetry, flooring, and other products that you might specify in a bathroom.

• Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The FSC Principles and Criteria describe how forests around the world can be managed to meet social, economic, ecological, cultural, and spiritual needs of present and future generations. The FSC offers a forest management Certification for forest operations that are managed in an environmentally appropriate manner. A Chain of Custody Certification verifies FSC Certified forest products through the production chain. (www. fsc. org)

• American Tree farm System® (ATFS). This program targets small woodland owners. Certifi­cation requires implementation of a management plan for sustainable forest stewardship. (www. treefarmsystem. org)

• Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). PEFC is an international organization dedicated to promoting sustainable forest management. PEFC promotes good practice so that forest products are produced with respect for the highest ecological, social, and ethical standards. The PEFC Ecolabel identifies products from sustainably managed forests. PEFC is an umbrella organization that has endorsed about 30 national certification systems, making it the world’s largest forest certification system. PEFC programs of interest to the bathroom designer include its labeling of sustainable forest products and chain of custody certification. (www. pefc. org)

Certified Recycled—What Does That Mean?

Using fewer new resources, and maximizing the use of the resources we have is an important part of sustainability. More and more, sustainable products and materials are those that are made from recycled materials. But is it postconsumer, preconsumer, or postindustrial recycled? And is the material recyclable or compostable or biodegradable after use? (See Figure 3.5.) If sustainability is based on the full lifecycle of the product or material, and considers the impact on the future as well as the present, we need to stop and ask these questions. A few defini­tions are needed, courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Trade Commission.

• recycled. Recycling turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable re­sources. Therefore, recycled content is material that has been recovered or diverted from the solid waste stream. Preconsumer (sometimes called postindustrial) recycled content is waste from the manufacturing process that would not normally be reused by industry. Postconsumer recycled content is from the waste stream after consumer use. If the entire product or material is not of recycled content, qualifying words on the labeling is required (such as percentage).

• recyclable. A material that is recyclable can be collected, separated, or recovered from the solid waste stream and used again or made into other useful products.

• Degradable. Degradable materials will break down and return to nature in a reasonable time frame after disposal. Biodegradable materials are broken down by naturally occurring microorganisms, such as bacteria. Photodegradable materials are broken down by exposure to light.

• Salvaged or reclaimed. There is no legal definition for these terms, but they are generally used to describe materials that are reused for a similar purpose in a building project. Often the building materials are taken from buildings, ships, or other sources that are no longer in existence in total. Salvaged or reclaimed materials are a good way to make sustainable use of existing resources as long as the item being salvaged is safe and appropriate for the new use.

• repurposed. A popular term used to describe using a product, material, or item for a new purpose in a project. As with salvage, the repurposed item needs to be safe and environmentally appropriate for the new use.