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by Matt Kiszka on 06/09/2009
UL Environment certifies first product, beginning their process for environmental claims validation
UL Environment, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Underwriters Laboratories that will test, validate, and certify environmentally sustainable product claims, has just validated its first product -- Serious Materials' green drywall, called EcoRock. Testing validated that it contains 80% recycled content, has low VOC emission levels, contains no mercury, and is highly resistant to mold. And most importantly of all, all this ensures that Serious Materials' claims are backed by thorough and recognized testing standards.
Under the LEED Rating System, and as part of the Materials & Resources section of credits, a project earns points by applying materials consisting of recycled content, those that are locally sourced, materials from rapidly-renewable sources, and low-VOC emitting products, to name a few. EcoRock therefore pushes a project toward achieving a number of different points when it is applied as a building material.
UL Environment has only set itself to validating specific and measurable claims that confrom to Federal Trade Commission Green Guide requirements, rather than independent standards, but it does intend to create standards for products where none exist by using the claims of manufacturers to create draft standard.
The more testing and validation that can be performed within the green building products market, the more certainty members of the green building community will have surrounding a product's environmental claims and how effectively it has reduced its impact. Materials like EcoRock have a strong focus on reducing the overall impact of its life cycle and usage, meaning that a building's overall impact is also reduced. UL is an internationally-recognized certification body, and with their newly-formed UL Environment, we will see a higher level of validated products and claims, which in turn will help us to avoid greenwashing - or at least find it easier to recognize it off the bat. ~Matt
Matt Kiszka is the Green Building Project Manager for Renewable Choice.