Green Interiors: Ingredient List
While green design is becoming more and more mainstream, there are still hurdles left to cross. Classification and transparency are two important factors that, when ironed out, will go a long way in establishing green design as the norm.
For a long time, companies have been issuing green products and giving general, non-descript labels like “natural” or “earth friendly. Think of it like the debate surrounding our food chain and what is classified as organic or natural. Organic food is the most black and white because it must meet specific standards to be classified as organic.
Standards vary by country and around the world, but in America any food being sold as organic is regulated by the USDA. The description of “natural food,” on the other hand, is a bit more vague. There is no percentage of content required to gain the “natural” label. It could be 10% of the food or 90%. A lot of people say natural food labels are a green washing technique (disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image) used by companies to raise the cost of food and make regular old products “feel-good products.”
The same concerns surrounding food apply to green products. How do we classify something as green if we don’t have a product “ingredient list”? How do we know a company is truly being transparent with their manufacturing processes?
In the United States, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is the equivalent of the USDA. USGBC offers LEED certification for buildings and interiors that meet certain standards and regulations. Now in its 4th generation, LEED has incorporated Health Product Declarations (HPDs) as part of the point system that leads to certification. HPDs are exciting because they provide a standardized tool for companies to provide “ingredient lists” for products. In the past, we have been working with many third-party certification programs like Energy Star, GreenGuard, or FSC, all of whicn are excellent on their own but don’t share uniform standards.
Consumers benefit from all this. For one, it will be easier to see what is in a product. Secondly, green design will become more and more transparent and “green washing” will be forced into oblivion. No longer will we be tricked by marketing of “natura” “green products” that offer little advantage over standard products. In the future, we will hopefully look back at the time when products didn’t have ingredient lists and shake our heads! —By Kate Gray Fudim
Editor’s Note: Kate Gray Fudim is an interior designer with Beth Haley Design. Kate has a master’s degree in Interior Architecture and Design with an emphasis in sustainable design. Beth Haley Design, an urban interior design firm, focuses on remodeling and revitalizing established homes, as well as creating stimulating, functional, sustainable spaces in new homes.. E-mail your questions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.bethhaleydesign.com.