A Glossary for Green Interior Design

With countless products claiming the eco-friendly label—many bearing prominent “seals of approval”—a little definition might be in order.

With so many competing and confusing eco-labels out there, it has become hard to keep track of which green certification systems apply to which products, which labels are industry standards and which ones are recent start-ups. To help you distinguish GreenGuard from Green Seal, we’ve compiled a glossary of the most important labels and terms in contemporary green interior design.

ECO-DESIGN TERMS

CARBON-NEUTRAL DESIGN
A design process that doesn’t produce greenhouse gases or contribute to global warming during any part of its life cycle, from production through consumption and disposal.

LIFE-CYCLE ANALYSIS (LCA)
A process to assess the environmental impact of a product or service throughout its entire life cycle, from manufacturing and production through consumption and disposal.

INDOOR AIR QUALITY (IAQ)
A measurement of the cleanliness of indoor air based on the amount of particles, dust, mold, gases, and pollutants present.

VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS (VOCs)
Chemical compounds that have high enough vapor pressures under normal conditions to vaporize and enter the atmosphere—a process called “offgassing.” Common VOCs such as formaldehyde, acetone, benzene, and gasoline can be found in paint, paint thinners, carpeting, furniture, and household cleaning products.

ZERO-ENERGY DESIGN
A description for buildings and products that have no net energy consumption over a typical year. Most “zero-energy” products consume energy but create their own power through local renewable sources.

ECO-LABELING TERMS

BEES
Building for Economic and Environmental Sustainability is a rating system and a set of software products, developed by the National Institute of Standards and Tech­nology’s Building and Fire Research Laboratory, that measures the envir­onmental performance of a building based on criteria such as global warming, fossil-fuel depletion, indoor air quality, habitat alteration, water consumption, smog production, ecological toxicity, and related human health.

BIFMA
The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association creates standards for evaluating the safety, durability, ergonomics, toxicity, and structural adequacy of contract furniture.

CLIMATE COOl
A certification system for products and services developed by the Climate Neutral Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

CRADLE TO CRADLE (C2C)
A design philosophy and certification system developed by William McDonough and Michael Braungart to evaluate products based on their energy use, materials, and potential for disassembly and reuse.

CRI GREEN LABEL
The Carpet and Rug Institute is a nonprofit trade organization that sets standards for the carpet industry. The CRI Green Label tests carpeting, cushions, and adhesives to help specifiers identify products with low VOC emissions.

ECOLOGO
Canada’s environmental-­certification symbol helps consumers and companies identify eco-friendly products and services.

ENERGY STAR
A national certification system developed by the EPA to promote energy efficiency in consumer products and homes.

EPEAT
The Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool is an environmental rating system developed by the nonprofit Green Electronics Council to rank the environmental friendliness of consumer electronics such as desktop computers, notebooks, and monitors.

FSC CERTIFICATION
The Forest Stewardship Council is an independent international nonprofit organization that evaluates forests and certifies the wood and paper products produced by responsibly managed forests.

GREENGUARD
An independent nonprofit certification system that tests and ranks products based on their particle/vapor emissions (off-gassing) and contribution to indoor air quality.

GREEN SEAL
An independent nonprofit organ­ization that sets environmental standards for a wide variety of consumer products and services.

INDOOR AIR QUALITY (IAQ)
A measurement of the cleanliness of indoor air based on the amount of particles, mold, dust, gases, and pollutants present.

LEED
Developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED  is an open, publicly reviewed set of standards that measures sustainable construction and ranks green buildings and interiors on a five-tier scale.

RUGMARK
A global nonprofit organization working to end child labor in the carpet industry, the group monitors factories and certifies that rugs are made without child labor.

SUSTAINABLE CARPET ASSESSMENT STANDARD (SCAS)
A global carpet standard for environmental friendliness developed by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) and the Institute for Market Transformation to Sustainability (MTS)

Categories: Interiors, Sustainability

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