Product Certification & Standard Organizations

September 17, 2008

ASTM International
This organization creates standards and testing procedures for a multitude of products and materials.  Related to green building, it has developed:

  • ASTM E2129-05 Standard Practice for Data Collection for Sustainability Assessment of Building Products
  • ASTM E1991-05 Standard Guide for Environmental Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Building Materials/Products
  • ASTM E2432-05 Standard Guide for General Principles of Sustainability Relative to Buildings

Energy Star
Developed by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, the Energy Star program recognizes products offering high energy efficiency in over 50 categories.  Although the Energy Star program itself does not certify window and door products, the label is seen as a mark of a high-performance product and may be required on windows or doors in green projects. In addition to its labeling program for windows, doors and skylights, DOE also offers an Energy Star rated homes program referenced in LEED for Homes.

ISO—International Organization for Standardization
The ISO 14000 series of standards addresses environmental management.  An environmental management system or EMS meeting the requirements of ISO 14001:2004 is designed as a tool to enable an organization of any size or type to:

  • identify and control the environmental impact of its activities, products or services
  • improve its environmental performance continually
  • implement a systematic approach to setting environmental objectives and targets, to achieving these and to demonstrating that they have been achieved.
  • The standard does not set levels of environmental performance.
  • ISO 14040:2006 outlines principles for life cycle analysis.

The only group currently with a green window standard (GS-13), written in 1995.  The organization currently has one window manufacturer’s products certified under the standard.  It has reached out recently to urge more manufacturers to participate, and said it is planning to update its standard.

Focused on indoor air quality issues, Greenguard tests and rates products for pollutant (VOCs, formaldehyde, etc.) emissions only.  It does not address life cycle analysis, recycled content, or the environmental impact of the manufacturing process. The organization certifies over 10,000 products, including building materials and interior products, and has specific criteria related to doors.

The developers of the idea of “Cradle-to-Cradle” design also offer cradle to cradle product certification.  No window or door manufacturers participate in the program at the time, but the program does cover a number of other building products. 

NAHB Research Center
The "NAHB Research Center Green Approved" product seal of approval program is used by manufacturers to demonstrate that their products are eligible for National Green Building Certification points. The program requires manufacturers provide appropriate third-party evidence that products meet the criteria for recognition in buildings certified to the National Green Building Standard. "Green Approved" products carry a certificate from the NAHB Research Center that identifies the specific section(s) of the standard where points for the product are available. A Web site lists building products that are "Green Approved" to facilitate builder/designers' selection/specification of products to be used in green homes, and the approval of those points by accredited green building verifiers.

Scientific Certification Systems
SCS is a third-party provider of certification, auditing and testing services, and standards, founded in 1984. In the building products arena, it is involved in verification of specific environmental claims, such as recycled content levels, use of certified wood and indoor emissions.  SCS currently certifies a number of window and door manufacturers related to these criteria.  It also offers all-encompassing ‘environmentally preferable’ product designations in a number of specific product areas, such as carpets. 

Wood certification organizations

Forestry Stewardship Council—United States
National chapter of international organization ( devoted to promotion of sustainable forest management and chain-of-custody standards.  Use of FSC certified wood is recognized for LEED credits.

Sustainable Forestry Initiative
Originally developed with support of the timber industry, SFI is now an independent organization offering forest certification services. Although not recognized by LEED, NAHB and other green building programs recognize SFI certified wood

American Tree Farm System
Forest certification program focused on sustainable forestry with an emphasis on serving privately-held forests.  Recognized in NAHB green building standard.

CSA International
The Canadian Standards Association is a developer of standards, as well as a global supplier of testing and certification services. In the green arena, it offers forest management and chain-of-custody certification for wood.