The NAHB Research Center has just announced its “Green Approved” certification for product manufacturers, and the first seal of approval has been issued to Weyerhauser for its iLevel structural wood products. This is an interesting development that comes hot on the heels of the ANSI-approved National Green Building Standard, also a product of the Research Center and a group of industry professionals.
The press releases are flying out the door on this, but there isn’t a lick of info on it at either the Research Center or NAHB websites. Maybe the NAHB is just running behind in updating them, but I am concerned that this label is hitting the market without any information about what it actually means. It seems to me that if it has the time to certify a product and send out a press release on it, the least the organization could do is tell us in the industry what it actually means.
New and approved!
It appears that, in this case, the NAHB is following the “mushroom theory” — feed us full of manure and keep us in the dark. Tell us it’s approved, but don’t tell us what “approved” means.
In a slight contrast to the Research Center, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has just announced its own “environmental services programs,” which is described this way: “Manufacturers may submit their products for UL testing and environmental claims validation. This validation enhances and supports the credibility of sustainability claims, helping to end confusion and giving manufacturers who choose UL validation a competitive edge.” No products or criteria are listed on the program’s website yet, but I am hopeful that they will come up with a strong, effective third-party system.
And let’s not forget the other programs out there — GreenGuard, Carpet and Rug Institute, FSC, SFI, Floor Score, to name a few. It seems that, like the plethora of local and national green building programs out there, we have a big selection of product certifications to wade through, but few methods for comparing or validating one over the other. I feel my head starting to ache.
Product certification that works, most of the time
For product validation, I think I prefer the Energy Star model. When I see an Energy Star appliance, I pretty much understand that it has met certain stringent requirements for energy and sometimes water efficiency. Interestingly, Energy Star recently took away its ratings on several appliances made by LG when it came out that the company’s testing procedure was understating energy usage. On top of this, LG has agreed to reimburse all the appliance owners for the amount of energy they would have saved if the equipment was as efficient as claimed. I like that type of accountability and would like to see an equivalent at the Research Center and UL. I’ll give them a little time to get their acts together and let us know exactly what “approved” means, but I won’t hold my breath.
I can’t wait to hear what my buddy Michael Anschel thinks about this — if you think I’m a cranky guy, check out his musings on the subject!