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Environmental

Biodegradation

Biodegradation is the breakdown or decomposition of materials by microorganisms. It refers to the processes that transform materials into less complex compounds that can be used and reused by living systems. Biodegradation is used for waste management and environmental remediation, also known as bioremediation. It is an important process that…

BREEAM

Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method, or BREEAM, was the world’s first widely used green building certification system. Developed in the 1990s in the UK by Building Research Establishment (BRE), today BREEAM is used in over 80 countries.1 BREAAM certification demonstrates a building project’s sustainability and its commitment to protecting…

California Air Resources Board (CARB)

Explore Materials and Sample California Air Resources Board (CARB) is a committee within California’s Environmental Protection Agency whose role is to protect the public from exposure to air pollution. This includes setting statewide emission standards for pollution sources ranging from auto emissions to consumer products. Formaldehyde, a toxic air contaminant…

California Prop 65 List

The California Prop 65 List is a public index of naturally occurring and synthetic chemicals that are known to cause cancer and reproductive harm. This list was established by Proposition 65—a law officially known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986—to inform Californians about potential exposure…

CDPH/CHPS 01350

Explore Materials and Sample CDPH (California Department of Public Health) / CHPS (Certified in Healthcare Privacy and Security) Section 01350 is a United States standard that addresses the human health and environmental impacts of building materials used by the architecture and design community. Also known as the Standard Method for…

Certification

A certification provides third-party confirmation that a product, project, process, or system fulfills the requirements of a given standard. Certification programs vary in method or philosophy. They can be divided into multi-attribute and single-attribute programs. A single-attribute certification focuses on just one factor, like water use, energy use, or chemical…

Chain of Custody (CoC)

Chain-of-Custody (CoC) is the process of following materials through each step of the supply chain in order to verify appropriate management, quality control, and safety. Along the supply chain, materials go through various stages of production, processing, shipping, and retail. CoC systems are made up of a series of procedures,…

Circular Economy

The Circular Economy is a framework that aims to reduce environmental impacts and generate economic growth by eliminating waste and reusing resources. This model is an alternative to the traditional linear economic system, which presumes the existence and accessibility of unlimited natural resources, and in which a product’s life cycle…

Compliance

In the building industry, compliance means acting in adherence to a set of regulations, standards, or codes. It indicates that a product, project, or process fulfills all official requirements. Designers, manufacturers, and other professionals may need to demonstrate compliance to internal management, regulators, the government, customers, or independent third parties.…

Cradle to Cradle

Explore Materials and Sample Cradle to Cradle (C2C) is a product standard administered by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (C2CPII) to incentivize environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing practices. Based on the principles outlined in their 2002 book, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, authors William…

Cradle to Cradle Basic Level Restricted Substances List (RSL)

The Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Basic Level Restricted Substances List (RSL) is a register of the chemicals that are banned from use in Cradle to Cradle Certified products above certain thresholds. These substances have been found to be harmful or toxic to the environment and human health.1 The RSL was…

Cradle to Cradle Material Health Certificate

The Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Material Health Certificate recognizes products that avoid the use of harmful chemicals or toxic materials, in accordance with Cradle to Cradle’s Certified Product Standard. The C2C product standard is administered by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (C2CPII) to incentivize environmentally and socially responsible…

CRI Green Label Plus Indoor Air Quality

Explore Materials and Sample Green Label Plus is a program created by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) to set standards for VOC emissions from carpets, cushions, and adhesives, and provide resources for consumers related to indoor air quality. It is a voluntary initiative that parallels testing emissions protocols used…

Declaration

A declaration is a report that provides quantified, transparent information about a product’s environmental performance and material ingredients. It can be used by building industry professionals to facilitate comparison with similar products and to help manufacturers qualify for transparency credits in green building rating systems. Declarations can be published as…

Declare Label

Explore Materials and Sample The Declare Label is a transparency initiative by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) through which industrial manufacturers can opt to disclose their product ingredients. Declare Labels share a product’s key compositional and logistical information with specifiers and consumers, including its manufacturer, assembly location, life expectancy,…

Declared

Explore Materials and Sample Declared refers to a declaration status indicating that a product has disclosed 100 percent of its ingredients present at or above 100ppm (0.01%), while also containing one or more Red List chemicals not listed as an existing exception. It is one of three declaration possibilities—along with…

Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice is the equitable distribution of environmental burdens and benefits, and of meaningful participation in environmental decision-making. This means that all people have the right to equal protection from environmental and health hazards, and the right to live, work, play, worship, or learn in safe, healthy communities.1 The US…

Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)

Explore Materials and Sample An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is a registered document that provides information about the environmental impact of a product across its life cycle. Unlike a label or certificate, an EPD is not an endorsement of a product’s environmental impact or its compliance with environmental standards. Rather,…

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an agency of the United States federal government whose mission is to protect human health and the environment. It was established in 1970 to ensure that all Americans have access to clean air, land, and water, and that related federal laws are administered and…

EPA Chemicals of Concern

EPA Chemicals of Concern is a list compiled by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) containing chemical substances found to be harmful or toxic to human health and the environment. This list was published in accordance with a 2016 amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which requires…

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC Certified)

Explore Materials and Sample The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a German-based, international non-profit organization and certification framework working to promote responsible forest management. The FSC uses independent, third-party accredited certifiers to appraise operations and determine whether they comply to institutional standards. Two certification tracks are available: Forest Management Certification…

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a volatile organic chemical (VOC) used as a preservative, disinfectant, and binding agent in the building industry.1 ­It has been designated as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization and California’s Proposition 65, and a Hazardous Air Pollutant by the US Environmental Protection Agency. It is a key…

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

Explore Materials and Sample The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is a certification program for organically produced textiles including clothing, home textiles, and personal care products. It is managed by a nonprofit organization that receives support from the United States government. Textiles certified by GOTS are manufactured in accordance with…

Global Warming Potential

The Global Warming Potential (GWP) is a unit of measurement developed to compare the atmospheric global warming impacts of gases. It tells us how long a gas remains in the atmosphere, and how much energy it absorbs over a given time period, relative to 1 ton of carbon dioxide (CO2).…

GREENGUARD

Explore Materials and Sample The GREENGUARD Certification Program—previously known as the GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certification—recognizes products and processes that meet standards for safe levels of chemical and particle emissions in indoor spaces. GREENGUARD is a third-party assessment program created by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Environment to support manufacturers in producing…

GREENGUARD Gold

Explore Materials and Sample GREENGUARD is a third-party assessment program created by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Environment to support manufacturers in producing safe products designed for indoor spaces, in accordance with strict VOC emissions standards. GREENGUARD Gold is even more rigorous, permitting no more than 1/100 of currently published ACGIH Threshold…

Health Product Declaration (HPD)

Explore Materials and Sample A Health Product Declaration (HPD) is a standardized report that is used to disclose the contents of building materials, as well as their possible human health effects and hazards. HPDs are overseen by the Health Product Declaration Collaborative (HPDC), a non-profit organization with members from across…

Healthier Hospitals Compliant

Explore Materials and Sample The Healthier Hospitals (HH) program provides guidelines and resources for United States healthcare organizations to create more sustainable business models and incentivizes change across the healthcare industry. Healthier Hospitals is a free, voluntary program created by Practice Greenhealth to encourage hospitals to improve their health and…

Heavy Metals

Heavy metals are naturally occurring elements with high densities relative to water, which are toxic at low concentrations.1 They are part of an ill-defined subset of elements with metallic properties, usually categorized as metals or metalloids.2 In trace amounts, many of these elements are necessary to sustain life, but when…

International Living Future Institute

The International Living Future Institute (ILFI), established in 2009 by members of the Cascadia Green Building Council, is a non-profit advocating for a socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative society. As the umbrella organization tasked with managing the Living Building Challenge, the Living Product Challenge, the Living Community Challenge,…

LBC Red List Approved (formerly LBC Compliant)

Explore Materials and Sample Living Building Challenge (LBC) Red List Approved is a status indicating that a product is in compliance with the requirements of the LBC Challenge, but that compliance is dependent on one or more exceptions. It is one of three declaration possibilities (Red List Free and Declared…

LBC Red List Free

Explore Materials and Sample Living Building Challenge (LBC) Red List Free is a status indicating that a product contains none of the harmful chemicals listed on the Red List. It is one of three declaration possibilities—Red List Approved and Declared are the other two—on the International Living Future Institute’s (ILFI)…

Lead

Lead is a naturally occurring metal found in small amounts in the earth’s crust. It is considered a heavy metal because of its high density and toxicity at low concentrations. Although it is toxic to humans and animals, it is used in industrial activities such as burning fossil fuels, mining,…

LEED

Explore Materials and Sample Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a third-party certification system and global standard for green buildings and communities. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED is the world’s most widely used green building rating system. It provides the tools for building industry…

Life Cycle Assessment

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a standardized set of procedures used to quantify the inputs, outputs, and potential environmental impacts of products or systems across their entire life cycle. LCAs promote the redesign and responsible design of products and processes to reduce harm to the environment.1 The life cycle is…

Low-Emitting

Explore Materials and Sample Low-emitting or low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are reduced concentrations of chemical contaminants in manufactured goods that, at significant levels, can be harmful to human health and the environment. VOC emissions can be released from household products like paints, solvents, carpets, wood composites, and cleaning products,…

Mindful Materials

Explore Materials and Sample Mindful MATERIALS (mM) is a free online aggregator of sustainability information for design professionals and manufacturers. It was created in 2014 by HKS, an international architecture firm, as a user-friendly platform that promotes product transparency and optimization information across the industry. The mM L3C is a…

Mindful Materials Label

Explore Materials and Sample The mindful MATERIALS (mM) label is a physical sticker placed on product binders in resource libraries to communicate information about manufacturer transparency and optimization. Labels are designed to facilitate identification of products whose manufacturers disclose information about their impact on human health and the environment. Products…

Non-Phthalate Vinyl

Explore Materials and Sample Non-phthalate vinyls are PVC products that do not contain phthalate plasticizers, which can be harmful to human and animal health. Phthalate has long been used to make PVC softer and more pliable, but in response to recent studies about its toxicity, American and European manufacturers of…

Perkins and Will Precautionary List

The Perkins & Will Precautionary List is a compilation of hazardous chemicals that are used in the building, design, and construction industry. The list was developed by Perkins & Will, an architecture and planning firm whose aim is to provide industry professionals with a tool to analyze the health and…

Phthalates

Phthalates are a group of harmful chemicals that are primarily used to soften plastics and vinyls in many consumer and industrial products. Around 90% of phthalates are used as plasticizers to improve the flexibility and durability of plastics and products made of polyvinylchloride (PVC).1 Others are used as solvents and…

Plasticizer

Plasticizers are additives used with plastics and vinyls to improve their flexibility and resistance. They are typically made of lightweight, volatile molecules that are either non-polymeric materials or polymer impact modifiers. Many plasticizers can also help control viscosity and aid in dispersion of additives like fillers and pigments.1 Phthalates are…

Post-Consumer Recycled

Explore Materials and Sample Post-consumer recycled content is material waste generated after the consumer-use phase of an item’s life cycle that is used to manufacture new products. To claim post-consumer content, manufacturers must disclose the percentage of recycled materials used, according to the item’s total weight. Use of either kind…

Post-Industrial Recycled

Explore Materials and Sample Post-industrial recycled content, also known as pre-consumer recycled content, is material waste generated during mass production that is later used to manufacture new products. Unlike post-consumer recycled content, post-industrial material has been recycled before entering into contact with consumers and being sent to a landfill. In…

Product Life Cycle

A product life cycle is an assessment of resource consumption, performance, and environmental impacts at each phase of an industrial product’s life. It consists of the extraction of raw materials, the processing of those materials, manufacturing, shipping, use, maintenance, and finally disposal or recycling. Life cycle assessment is based on…

REACH Compliant

Explore Materials and Sample The Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) is a European Union law instated in 2007 to regulate harmful chemicals across all industries. It aims to protect human health and the environment from risks caused by exposure to chemicals. Managed by the European Chemicals Agency…

REACH Substances of Very High Concern

REACH Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) are chemicals that pose a serious threat to human health and the environment, as evaluated by the European Chemical Agency (ECHA). They are regulated through the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), a European Union law instated in 2007. The SVHC…

Reclaimed Wood

Explore Materials and Sample Reclaimed wood is structurally sound wood that has been salvaged from a building project and reused to extend its lifespan. When buildings are decommissioned, abandoned, or slated for demolition, intact components can be recovered through a dismantling process to be used in new construction or remodeling.…

Recycled Content

Explore Materials and Sample Recycled content, as opposed to virgin stock, is material that has been diverted from a landfill and subsequently used in the manufacturing of new product. Defined by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to prevent false marketing claims, recycled content can be supplied from industrial or consumer…

Red List

The Red List is an index of the most harmful and polluting materials used in the building industry. It was created by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) to identify and eliminate pollutants, substances that are harmful to construction and factory workers, and chemicals that bio-accumulate up the food chain…

SCS Global FloorScore Certified

Explore Materials and Sample SCS Global FloorScore is a certification by SCS Global that attests to the indoor air emissions of resilient and hard surface flooring materials, including adhesives and underlayments. Assessed by third-party ISO-17025 testing standards, FloorScore is used to test samples for specific chemicals of concern and to…

SCS Global Services

SCS Global Services is a third-party certification body that also develops its own standards. It develops environmental, sustainability, food safety, and quality performance standards, as well as auditing and certification programs. It works internationally, initiating partnerships with companies, government agencies, NGOs, and other stakeholders to achieve sustainable development goals and…

SCS Indoor Advantage Certified

Explore Materials and Sample SCS Indoor Advantage is a certification program developed by SCS Global Services that appraises the VOC emissions of furniture and interior building materials. SCS offers two certifications: Indoor Advantage, for furniture; and Indoor Advantage Gold, for furniture and building materials—including coatings, paints, sealants, adhesives, wallcoverings, floor…

Ships Carbon Neutral

Explore Materials and Sample Ships carbon neutral is an indicator that activities associated with a product’s transportation release a net zero amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere. There are two main strategies for achieving carbon neutrality in shipping: offsetting greenhouse gas emissions and using alternative fuel sources. The…

Six Classes

Six Classes is a framework developed by the Green Science Policy Institute to provide information about many  of the harmful chemicals used in building materials and consumer products, in order to minimize their use. Rather than creating a list of chemicals of concern, Six Classes groups chemicals into six categories.…

Social Equity

Social Equity, at its simplest, can be understood as impartiality, fairness, and justice for all people.1 This means taking into account systemic inequalities to ensure that that everyone has access to the same opportunities and outcomes. Equity acknowledges that inequalities exist and works to eliminate them. It means that regardless…

Supply Chain

A supply chain is a coordinated system of processes, information, resources, physical locations, and service providers that are responsible for a product’s manufacturing, storage, distribution, and retail.1 All activities between the extraction of raw materials and the product’s acquisition by an end customer make up part of the supply chain.…

Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI Certified)

Explore Materials and Sample The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) is a non-profit organization committed to advancing sustainable forest management. SFI’s standards and product labels aid consumers in making responsible decisions and promote market visibility of certified forest products, such as wood, paper, and packaging items. SFI has developed a set…

Third Party

A third party is an objective, independent person or organization. Product testing, evaluation, certification, and reporting is often performed by a third party in order to ensure reliability. In order to be independent, third parties must have no conflicts of interest, financial, personal, or otherwise, with involved parties such as…

Toxicity

Toxicity refers to the potential of a substance to cause harm to the living body. Toxic substances, or toxicants, can be naturally occurring (such as lead), synthetic (like phthalates), or produced by a living organism (like mold). Those produced by a living organism fall into a subclassification of toxicants called…

US Green Building Council

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a nonprofit organization committed to transforming the nation’s construction industry by promoting the values of the green building rating system Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Its mission is to facilitate healthier, more socially and environmentally responsible buildings and communities that improve…

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemical contaminants that, at significant levels, can be harmful to human health and the environment. VOCs are volatile, meaning that they evaporate readily, and organic, which means that they contain carbon atoms. There are several exceptions that do not fall under VOC categorization, including carbon…

Wastewater

Wastewater refers to any water that has been used by humans. It includes water that has been contaminated by domestic, industrial, agricultural, and commercial use, and from stormwater runoff and infiltration.1 After use, water must be treated to reduce pollutants before being released into the environment. Wastewater is collected in…

WELL

Explore Materials and Sample The WELL Building Standard is a global rating system that uses a point-based framework of best-practice policies to assess the impact of the built environment on human health. WELL was founded by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), a public benefit corporation with a mission to…