How “Green” Is That Product?

Jane M. Wilson, MPH, Director of Standards, NSF International, MI


Manufacturers of products used in offices, schools, hospitals, hotels, and other commercial and institutional environments are responding to emerging drivers for “green” products that include:


·         federal, state, and local environmentally preferable purchasing and procurement practices;

·         Growing influence of the U.S. Green Building Council and its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building standards;

·         Demand and interest for sustainable products from the architecture, interior design, and retail communities; and

·         Consumer awareness of environmental issues and willingness to pay for products that are identified as sustainable.


As an accredited third-party testing and certification organization, NSF International (NSF) has established several programs to provide public and private organizations and consumers with the assurance that environmental attributes have been independently verified. NSF is a licensed certifying body for US EPA’s WaterSenseSM program, a public-private partnership aimed at promoting the market for water-efficient products and services. In the area of green chemistry, NSF is a partner in the U.S. EPA Design for the Environment (DfE) formulator program, providing third-party reviews of cleaning product formulations against DfE defined criteria for aquatic toxicity and biodegradability. NSF also provides service to the GreenBlue Institute CleanGredientsTM program, which evaluates ingredients in institutional and industrial cleaning products against the U.S EPA DfE program requirements.


As an ANSI-accredited standards development organization, NSF International is also working with stakeholders in the textile, carpet and rug, office furniture, and resilient flooring sectors on sustainability standards. By working with multiple industries that affect the built environment, NSF promotes the sharing of best sustainability practices across its standards committees, so that the standards are developed in a consistent and cohesive manner. Having attributes that define and identify sustainable products in the form of consensus American National Standards will assist both manufacturers and end users in communicating and understanding environmental and sustainability related product benefits.