There are a number of organizations that are putting considerable time and effort into evaluating products and services based on their environmental impacts. Below are a few of the most widely recognized environmentally preferable product standards.
The standards and certifications in existence are by no means limited to this list. Specialized certifications do exist for niche products and especially for the construction industry. Other industry organizations are getting more involved in certification as well. For a comprehensive listing of environmental marks, try Ecolabel Index which lists and describes nearly 500 certification labels on everything from food to fabric to paint and parks. While not all labels mean that products meet the most stringent levels of performance for all aspects of sustinability, understanding what they mean helps you to compare products. Food labels are included in the index, and you can access our Food Labeling Guide to see a dozen of the most common labels.
If you encounter a certification standard that we have not listed here, and you feel that it would be useful to share with Fort Lauderdale neighbors, then please feel free click the [+] Feedback button above and tell us about it. Please list the name of the certification and name and web address for the certifying agency.
Please be aware that there are no individual LEED certified products in existence. USGBC and GBCI do not certify products. There are products that are labeled as having the potential to contribute to a specific credit on a project’s LEED certification application, however they are not LEED certified products themselves.
These labels should be trusted above any other claims made by retailers, manufacturers or salespeople. Look for the specific logos pictured here, and beware of imitations.
This list is presented in alphabetic order, and not in order of importance or effectiveness. Please select the certification standard most appropriate to the type of product you are purchasing.
American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) is one of the largest voluntary standards development organizations in the world and a source for technical standards for materials, products, systems, and services. Their standards guide design, manufacturing and trade of thousands of products. Standards for over 12,000 items can be downloaded from their website.
The Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) offers a compostable label program, to "educate manufacturers, legislators and consumers about the importance of scientifically based standards for compostable materials which biodegrade in large composting facilities." They also promote municipal composting, and provide information about how to find a composter. Information is available for over four thousand products.
EcoLogoTM is North America’s largest certification mark program and is administered by UL. It is one of the oldest certification programs, has its origins in Canada but is now recognized worldwide. TheEcoLogo Program is a Type I eco-label, as defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). This means that the Program compares products/services with others in the same category, develops rigorous and scientifically relevant criteria that reflect the entire lifecycle of the product, and awards the EcoLogo to those that are verified by an independent third party as complying with the criteria. Look for the EcoLogo on products or access their Sustainable Products Guide.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ENERGY STAR labels household, office and industrial products that utilize electricity and other types of energy. These products include everything from computers to lighting to dishwashers and more. However, products which do not require energy themselves, but can help to reduce energy consumption can also be certified. These include, for example, products like roofing materials and windows. The goal is for the certified product to exceed U.S energy efficiency standards. There is even a program to certify entire homes. You can access a complete directory of Energy Star certified products.
Floor Score is a program by the Resilient Floor Covering Institute designed to test and certify floor covering products to be sure that they meet standards for indoor air quality emissions up to the California Section 01350 Program which is the most stringent in the nation. The objective is to limit the impact of Volatile organic compounds.
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification pertains to products manufactured of wood, wood pulp and other wood products. Certified wood comes from well-managed forests that meet this independent standard. Buying certified wood products means that the forest habitat from which it came has been managed to sustain the forest long term, and to maintain healthy trees, water quality, biodiversity and strong local economies. An FSC mark on a product will always show a numerical code, and will indicate the type of certification, such as from a 100% well managed forest, a product of mixed sources (forest harvest and recycled content) or a product of recycled content.
Good Housekeeping Green Seal One of America's most trusted product labels has gone green!
Green-e is a mark of certification for electricity products. It can help you as you seek out renewable energy alternatives and ways to lower GHG emissions, and even in considering carbon offset or alternative pricing options for energy utilities. There are two certification and one verification programs: Green-e Climate "sets consumer-protection and environmental-integrity standards for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions sold in the voluntary market," Green-e Energy certifies and verifies actual renewable energy, and Green-e Marketplace allows companies to display the logo when they have purchased a qualifying amount of renewable energy and passed certain verification standards.
Greenguard Environmental Institute (GEI) is an industry-independent, non-profit organization that oversees the GREENGUARD Certification Program. As an ANSI Authorized Standards Developer, GEI establishes indoor air standards for indoor products, environments, and buildings, including offices, hospitals, schools, homes, and others. Greenguard is offered by the UL company which has more than a century of involvement in product certification and testing. To find the products you can use the same search guide as for the EcoLogo mark.
Green Seal is a nonprofit organization that certifies a variety of products, including consumer goods, cleaning services, hotel and lodging properties, restaurants and food services, to ensure they that pass stringent environmental standards. Green Seal "bases its work on thorough, state-of-the-art scientific evaluations using internationally accepted methodologies." Product evaluations are conducted using a life-cycle approach, from raw materials extraction through manufacturing to use and disposal.
Safer Choice is a program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This is a new label for an existing system to help consumers find products safe from hazardous products. Previously under the banner of Designed for the Environment.(DfE), Safer Choice is a more consumer friendly and easy to use system. It offers sub-specialized labels for home consumer, business or institutional products and to denote fragrance-free products. The DfE program will remain with a focus on tools to help "stakeholders evaluate human health and environmental attributes of chemicals in products," including things like pesticides and detergents, and offering assistance to manufacturers in determining alternative components and impact assessments.
WaterSense is a partnership program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It seeks to protect the future of our nation's water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products and services. The program helps consumers make smart water choices that "save money and maintain high environmental standards without compromising performance." Products and services that have earned the WaterSense label have been certified to be at least twenty percent more efficient. The City of Fort Lauderdale is a Water Sense Partner.