Published September 9, 2022
Your New Easy Button
A Straight Forward Solution for Finding Sustainable Products
By Jane Rohde, AIA, FIIDA, ASID, ACHA, CHID, LEED AP BD+C, GGA – EB, GGF
Principal, JSR Associates, Inc.
Technical Consultant, Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI)
In talking with architects and interior designers, one major consistent obstacle to creating informed specifications from a sustainable, health, and wellness perspective is the multiple websites that are needed to ‘track down’ the applicable information. With the proliferation of ecolabels with varying requirements and confirming a product has been third-party certified, there is a heavy lift responsibility on the specifier and, subsequently, the contractor to provide documentation that supports green building rating systems.
Various sustainability databases were evaluated, and the resilient flooring product industry elected to collaborate with ecomedes to create a dedicated website and database – rfci.ecomedes.com – to assist architects and interior designers with finding documentation as a “one-stop-shop” for sustainable resilient flooring product information. The Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) is an industry trade association of leading resilient flooring manufacturers and suppliers of raw materials, additives, and sundry flooring products for the North American market. The resilient floor covering category includes vinyl tile and sheet, LVT and LVP, rigid core, rubber tile and sheet, linoleum tile and sheet, and cork tile flooring products.
The ease of transparent access to sustainable product information is essential for architects, interior designers, facility managers, and building owners - all desiring to comply with green building and health and wellness rating systems that support positive building occupant outcomes.”
The collaborative creation of a dedicated product database is with the specifier in mind as product information can be compared, and a project can be setup for ease of saving information electronically. Information available includes resilient flooring product ecolabels, environmental product declarations, performance and embodied carbon information, and product documentation that supports compliance with building rating system criteria. The database includes searches to identify products that may meet specific criteria for building rating systems, such as Green Globes® and LEED®. The database also provides general contractors and flooring installers access to specific product documentation that they may need for a submittal to the architecture or interior design firm that is managing the building rating process for the client.
An important aspect of the rfci.ecomedes.com database, is the connectivity to Building Transparency’s Embodied Carbon Construction Calculator (EC3) which provides global warming potential values – both directly from the Environmental Product Declaration (product specific or industry wide) and the calculated EC3 global warming potential value. RFCI’s members chose to participate in evaluating embodied carbon related to their industry and products – early on recognizing the importance of addressing climate change. In addition to providing the values, there is a direct link to the EC3 tool from the material database.
Resilient floor covering product example that includes various certification and information including under Planet Health - GWP information and a direct link to the EC3 Tool.
In addition to building rating systems, the Federal Government has product compliance requirements that are reviewed and established through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This is an example of a resilient floor covering product that complies with the government requirements that was selected from an available dropdown list.
Federal Guidelines filter to verify product is compliant with Executive Order 13834 and relevant EPA requirements.
As a free resource, rfci.ecomedes.com is recommended to the specifier – architects and interior designers are encouraged to utilize the material database to research, compare, and specify products that meet the desired characteristics. In addition to single attributes, such as recycled content, biobased content, and indoor air quality, it is encouraged to specify products based on the desired product service life for the application, e.g., healthcare, education, workplace, multifamily, etc.
One multi-attribute standard to look for in the database is ASSURE CERTIFIED™ for rigid core flooring products. Another soon-to-be-launched program is AFFIRM™ CERTIFIED, which is based on the revised NSF/ANSI 332 Sustainability Assessment for Resilient Floor Coverings that is anticipated to be published by the end of summer 2022. The standard addresses environmental, health and wellness, and social impacts for resilient floor covering products.
The ease of transparent access to sustainable product information is essential for architects, interior designers, facility managers, and building owners - all desiring to comply with green building and health and wellness rating systems that support positive building occupant outcomes. Through collaborations with like-minded organizations, such as ecomedes, RFCI, and Building Transparency, there is an opportunity to come together to positively impact planet and human health! For more information, please visit rfci.ecomedes.com and the RFCI website.