This guest blog post was written by Sarah Wilson, Marketing Manager for UL Environment’s Furniture business division. Sarah has worked in the marketing of products and services for the commercial interiors industry for more than 10 years. She has expertise in the testing, inspection and certification of furniture and furnishings, and recently achieved her LEED Green Associate credential.

GREENGUARD Certification is one of the most widely recognized eco-labels, but you might not know all the facts behind the label.  Here are a few things you might not know about GREENGUARD Certification, and how it can benefit products, people and indoor environments. But first, let’s explore the key differences between standard and gold GREENGUARD certifications.

Exploring the Difference Between GREENGUARD Gold and Standard GREENGUARD Certifications

When it comes to understanding the difference between GREENGUARD Gold and standard GREENGUARD certifications, it’s important to grasp the varying levels of stringency and limits placed on chemical emissions. While both certifications prioritize indoor air quality and low chemical emissions, GREENGUARD Gold certification sets the bar even higher. It demands products to meet more rigorous criteria, ensuring even lower levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other potentially harmful emissions. This distinction makes GREENGUARD Gold certified products, including furniture, a top choice for environments where air quality and occupant health are paramount. As industry leaders, we recognize the significance of GREENGUARD Gold certification in creating healthier and safer spaces, particularly in sensitive settings such as firehouses and correctional facilities.

As we delve deeper into understanding the difference between GREENGUARD Gold and standard GREENGUARD certifications, it becomes clear that source control plays a pivotal role in maintaining the stringent standards and ensuring optimal indoor air quality.

Source Control is the Key! 

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air is two to five times more polluted than outdoor air, and the single most effective way to reduce indoor pollutants is to control the source of those pollutants.  GREENGUARD Certified products are tested and verified to have low chemical emissions, which can aid in the creation of healthier indoor environments.

No VOC or VOC Free Products Can Still Emit VOCs

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are organic chemicals that evaporate or vaporize readily at room temperature.  VOCs are contained in and emitted from all types of building materials, paints, furniture and other products commonly used indoors.  Be cautious of products labeled “no VOC” or “low VOC.” Despite what you might think, these labels do not refer to VOCs that can be inhaled, or VOC emissions; rather, they refer to a product’s chemical content.

VOC emissions refer to the VOCs, or chemicals, that are released into the air during or after a product’s use.  VOC emissions can damage indoor air quality because airborne chemicals can be easily inhaled.

VOC content refers to the concentration of VOCs in a product—in other words, the chemicals that are used to manufacture a product. A product’s VOC content may affect its toxicity if ingested or mixed with food or drinking water, but products with low VOC content can still release, or emit, potentially harmful VOCs.

GREENGUARD Certification Screens for More than 10,000 Chemicals

GREENGUARD Certified products are tested for more than 10,000 chemicals used in the manufacturing of products.  GREENGUARD Certified products meet strict limits on the emissions of certain chemicals, and in addition, GREENGUARD Gold certified products meet strict limits on the total VOCs emitted from the product (TVOC).  In fact, GREENGUARD Certified products meet some of the world’s strictest chemical emission limits, so you can feel confident that products will not contribute to poor indoor air quality.

GREENGUARD Certified Products Contribute to LEED Credits

GREENGUARD Gold certified products can contribute up to three points for furniture and furnishings within LEED version 4, as well as up to four points within LEED v3.  And, all GREENGUARD Certified products have publically accessible certificates that make submittal for LEED projects easy.  Look for the GREENGUARD Certified products and access certificates on UL’s Sustainable Product Guide.

Referenced in More 450 Building Programs and Specifications

GREENGUARD Certification is widely accepted in more than 450 green building programs, such as LEED, CHPS, Green Seal, and many global and municipal building programs.  Specifiers and purchasers can see which building programs products contribute to, as well as the specific LEED credits they contribute to, on UL’s Sustainable Product Database.

GREENGUARD Gold certification sets the highest standard for indoor air quality and low chemical emissions, making it the preferred choice for creating healthier and safer environments, particularly in sensitive settings like firehouses and correctional facilities. By prioritizing furniture and products with this certification, organizations can ensure the well-being of occupants while demonstrating their commitment to sustainability. Embracing GREENGUARD Gold certification is a proactive step toward fostering a healthier, more environmentally conscious future for all.

Editor’s Note: Norix Furniture products are GREENGUARD Gold Certified. To learn more about the company’s GREENGUARD Certification, please view visit this blog post.