It’s a jungle out there in the world of green marketing claims, and as you know, not all parts of the jungle are green.
A good example — Chris Moore, our senior R & D technician, just now showed me a paint stripper from another manufacturer. The label had some charming environmental graphics, including a mountain and sunshine. It claimed the product was “environmentally friendly” and “odor-free.”
Then he peeled back the lid and gave me a sniff. Phew! The “environmentally friendly,” “odor free” paint stripper, it turns out, has a good slug of NMP (N-Methylpyrrolidone), a powerful and pungent solvent.
We tried it on Courtney Murdock, our project testing director, and she had the same reaction as me.
Chris’s point is that many green marketing claims, far from being merely dubious, often stand in stark contrast to the reality of the product. Since there’s no regulation of what’s “green” and what isn’t, unethical marketers can get away with that.
But that’s changing. The Environmental Protection Agency has created a program you may have heard about – Design for the Environment, or DfE for short. That designation on a product means that a scientific review has found that product ingredients meet “best in class” standards for safety – both personal and environmental.
More design firms than ever are specifying “green,” according to Engineering News Record. In the July 5th issue, the magazine reports “Revenue from projects registered with and actively pursuing certification by third-party sustainable design standards organizations rose 16.8% in 2009 to $3.33 billion over 2008’s figure of $2.85 billion.”
That’s why PROSOCO pursues third-party designations like DfE wherever possible. We can claim our lithium-silicate hardener/densifiers are great for indoor air quality. But architects don’t have to take our word for it when they see the Scientific Certification Systems Indoor Advantage Gold logo our product data sheets.
Of course, the products also have to work. No matter how safe a paint stripper is, if it doesn’t de-bond paint it’s no good. On the other hand, if it contains a pungent solvent, we’re not going to call it “odor free.”
That’s why we’re looking for and testing DfE raw materials for our products. That’s why we’re going through the laborious, time-consuming, effort of earning the DfE designation for our qualifying products.
To get our share of those green design and construction billions, our products have to be the real deal – both in effectiveness and environmental responsibility. A simple test panel shows you product effectiveness. For environmental responsibility, I recommend looking for reliable third party endorsers, like Scientific Certification Systems and the EPA – and not accepting anything less.