Biodegradable – The ability of a substance to decompose in the natural environment into harmless raw materials. To be truly biodegradable, a substance or material should break down into carbon dioxide (a nutrient for plants), water, and naturally occurring minerals that also do not cause harm to the ecosystem. In terms of environmental benefits, a product should take months or years, and not centuries, to biodegrade.
Buyer – Anyone authorized to purchase on behalf of the organization or its subdivisions.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) – Any of a group of compounds that contain carbon, chlorine, fluorine, and sometimes hydrogen and have been used as refrigerants, cleaning solvents, aerosol propellants and in the manufacture of plastic foams. The uses of CFCs are being phased out because they destroy the planet's stratospheric ozone protection layer.
Compostable – A product that can be placed into a composition of decaying biodegradable materials and eventually turn into a nutrient-rich material. It is synonymous with "biodegradable,” except it is limited to solid materials. (Liquid products are not considered compostable.)
Durable – A product that remains useful and usable for a long time without noticeable deterioration in performance.
Energy efficient product – A product that is in the upper 25 percent of energy efficiency for all similar products, or that is at least 10 percent more efficient than the minimum level meeting US federal government standards.
ENERGY STAR - Developed and promoted by the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Energy Star currently certifies
and labels appliances, heating and cooling systems, clothes washers, dehumidifiers,
dishwashers, commercial and residential refrigerators & freezers, commercial food
service equipment, room AC, lighting, office equipment, and manufactured homes.
Criteria for product categories are updated regularly and designed to reduce energy use.
In addition, Energy Star and the EPA provide information for reducing the costs of
operating buildings through their website and informational material.
EPEAT - Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool is a self-declaration system
operated by the Green Electronics Council to help purchasers in the public and private
sectors evaluate, compare and select desktop computers, notebooks and monitors based
on their environmental attributes. EPEAT was developed with funding from the EPA and
the Zero Waste Alliance. EPEAT evaluates products based on: material selection, design
for end of life, product longevity/life cycle extension, energy conservation, end of life
management, corporate Performance, and packaging. EPEAT™ Performance Tiers
evaluates electronic products according to three tiers of environmental performance –
Bronze, Silver and Gold. The complete set of performance criteria includes 23 required
criteria and 28 optional criteria in 8 categories. To qualify for acceptance as an EPEAT
product, it must conform to all the required criteria. Environmental groups were active
participants in the EPEAT development process along with other key stakeholders.
Manufacturers voluntarily announce what performance criteria they meet based on good
faith and pay an annual fee. Dell, Apple, Samsung, Sony, Gateway and many other
manufacturers participate in EPEAT.
FloorScore - is a program for testing and certifying hard floor services compliance with
California’s indoor air quality emission requirements laid out in California Section 01350
program. Scientific Certification Systems developed the program with the Resilient
Floor Covering Institute (RFCI). US Green Building Council approved FloorScore
Certification as an indicator for LEED Credit in November 2006.
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) - FSC creates the standards for SmartWood and
Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) (third-party certifying organizations) to certify
forests and chain of custody forest products. As of 2005 FSC has three different labels for
wood products: “FSC Pure,” “FSC Mixed Sources,” and “FSC Recycled.”
Greenhouse gases – Any of several dozen heat-trapping trace gases in the earth's atmosphere that absorb infrared radiation. The two major greenhouse gases are water vapor and carbon dioxide; lesser greenhouse gases include methane, ozone (O3), CFCs, and nitrogen oxides.
Greenguard - Greenguard is a for profit company that rates the indoor air quality of a
variety of products. Greenguard certified office furniture earns LEED credits for
Commercial Interiors Rating System. Companies pay to be Greenguard certified.
According to Environmental Bu9ilding News, “the most any one company has paid to
date is $180,000 per year.” When considering the indoor air quality of products it is
important to remember that after the first few months of occupancy, emissions from
furnishings diminish to very low levels, and emissions from maintenance and cleaning
products are the real issue in terms of air quality (EBN Volume 12, No.10)
Green Label Plus - The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) developed the Green Label in
1992 as a label for carpets and adhesives that pass their independent testing program for
indoor emissions from carpets. The program was updated with stricter standards and
called Green Label Plus in 2004. “[C]arpets must be tested by Air Quality Sciences, Inc.
of Atlanta (the only certified testing laboratory).” 1 There are 109 certified products
from 25 different companies, including: Atlas Carpet Mills Inc., Beaulieu of America,
Blue Ridge Commercial Carpet, C&A Floor coverings, Inc, Camelot Carpet Mills,
Constantine, Millikin and Company, Lees Carpets by Mohawk Industries, InterfaceFLOR
Green Seal - Green Seal is a non-profit formed in 1989 that began certifying products in
2000. Green Seal certifies Hand Cleaners, Electric Chillers, Cleaners, Fleet Vehicle
Maintenance, Floor Care Products, paints, papers, newsprint and windows and doors.
Green Seal is a member of the Global Ecolabeling Network (GEN).
Reputable: Product standards are developed with the input of the public and industry
stakeholders, academia and government agencies. Standards must meet U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements, International Standards
Organization (ISO) requirements and the requirements of third party certifiers. Green
Seal cites Ecolab as having Green Seal approved products.
Widely Used: All Federal government contracts reference Green Seal Standards for
Industrial and Institutional Cleaners (GS-37) for cleaning products. Green Seal
certification is required for all industrial cleaning products bought by schools, and local
1 July 2004. Carpet Industry and California Agree on New Green Label What's Happening. Environmental
Building News. State agencies in Minnesota, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. Montana,
Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Washington are considering adopting Green Seal standards.
Ecolab, a leading cleaning supply manufactures, launched a line of products that meet
Green Seal criteria in 2005. Maplewood-based 3M Co, Johnson Wax Professional,
Benjamin Moore, Dutch Boy and Anderson Corporation product Green Seal certified
LEED rating system – A self-assessment system developed by the US Green Building
Council for rating the environmental preferability of new and existing commercial,
institutional, and high-rise residential buildings.
Life cycle cost – The amortized annual cost of a product or service, including capital costs, installation costs, operating costs, maintenance costs, and disposal costs discounted over the lifetime of the product or service.
Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) – Written or printed material about a product that includes information on the product’s physical and chemical characteristics; physical and health hazards; exposure limits; whether the product contains carcinogenic ingredients above a certain threshold; precautions for safe handling and use; control measures; emergency and first aid procedures; the date of preparation of the MSDS or the last change to it; and the name, address, and telephone number of the manufacturer. Persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic compounds (PBTs) – Toxic chemicals that persist in the environment and increase in concentration through food chains as larger animals consume PBT laden smaller animals. They transfer rather easily among air, water, and land, and span boundaries of programs, geography, and generations. As a result, PBTs pose risks to human health and ecosystems. They are associated with a range of adverse human health effects, including effects on the nervous system, reproductive and developmental problems, cancer, and genetic impact. They include heavy metals and chemicals such as mercury, dioxins, and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls).
Post-consumer recycled content – Percentage of a product made from materials and byproducts recovered or diverted from the solid waste stream after having completed their usefulness as consumer items and used in place of raw or virgin material.
Product life cycle – The culmination of environmental impacts for a product, including raw material acquisition, manufacturing, distribution, use, maintenance, and ultimate disposal of the product. (Compare with Life cycle Cost.)
Recyclable product – A product that after its intended end use can be diverted from the solid waste stream for use as a raw material in the manufacture of another product.
Recovered materials – Waste materials and by-products that have been recovered or diverted from the solid waste stream.
Recycled materials – Material and byproducts that have been recovered or diverted from solid waste and have been utilized in place of raw or virgin material in manufacturing a product. It is derived from post-consumer recycled materials, manufacturing waste, industrial scrap, agricultural waste, and other waste material, but does not include material or byproducts generated from, and commonly reused within, an original manufacturing process.
Refurbished product – A product that has been completely disassembled and restored to its original working order while maximizing the reuse of its original materials.
Renewable materials – Materials made from plant-based feedstock capable of regenerating in less than 200 years such as trees and agricultural products. Rapidly renewable resources, such as grain-based feedstocks, regenerate in less than two years.
Sustainable – An action is said to be sustainable if it satisfies present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
SCS Sustainable Choice - Scientific Certification Systems certifies selected carpets and floor coverings for compliance with the NSF 140 Carpet Assessment Standard. The criteria is stipulated by the Sustainable Carpet Assessment Standard and California Gold Sustainable Carpet Standard, California Department of General Services. Eight major carpet companies offer a total of over 25 different products that are SCS Sustainable choice certified. About 190 companies have products that meet SCS’s other environmental standards. SCS does not identify products that meet their standards with any label that end users can see. Based in Emeryville, California. SCS is a private forprofit company and independent third-party certifier that claims no financial, management or ownership connections between their staff and the clients they certify.
Upgradeable product – The ability to increase a product’s performance or features without replacing the product.
Virgin material – Any material occurring in its natural form. Virgin Material is used in the form of raw material in the manufacture of new products.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – Chemicals that readily evaporate and contribute to the formation of air pollution when released into the atmosphere. Many VOCs are classified as toxic and carcinogenic.
Water efficient – A product that is in the upper 25 percent of water efficiency for all similar products, or that is at least 10 percent more efficient than the minimum level meeting US federal government standards.
IPCC would like to thank Oberlin College for providing Environmentally Preferable Purchasing information.