To better understand and discern between environmental product claims, A&D professionals need to stay apprised as to the latest developments in EcoLabeling.

EcoLabels in the interior design industry are following a trajectory similar to that of other industries. Starting with single-criteria labels, product labels progress to multi-criteria labels and eventually shift to comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)-based labeling. While SCS Indoor Advantage and GREENGUARD have proven to be effective single-criteria EcoLabels, and level expands the criteria through the supply chain, the author believes that LCA is a logical future step for product labels in the furniture industry. LCA more effectively addresses a comprehensive set of environmental impacts and any associated trade-offs by evaluating a product’s consequences from “cradle-to-grave”.

Consumers and government agencies are increasingly driving the developments in EcoLabeling. Consumers are more savvy when it comes to “greenwashing” and the Federal Trade Commission has begun cracking down on manufacturers’ green claims.

The author advises that design professionals and business leaders continue to pay attention to the driving forces behind the EcoLabels and stay aware of key developments in the industry. EcoLabels offer a means to educate and engage customers and employees about sustainability, but continue to evolve.

Source: The Future of EcoLabeling, Interiors & Sources, by Stowe Hartridge-Beam, May 2010

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