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Canadian carpet manufacturers anticipate changes to environmental standards

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Canadian rug manufacturers and green building proponents are waiting to see if a new environmental standard for carpeting in the United States will lead to a new standard here.

Green Interiors

U.S. changes could lead to higher standards in Canada, too

Canadian rug manufacturers and green building proponents are waiting to see if a new environmental standard for carpeting in the United States will lead to a new standard here.

The Canadian Carpet Institute has participated in the U.S.-based Carpet and Rug Institute’s Green Label program since the 1990s. Under this indoor air quality program, carpets must meet emissions criteria for volatile organic compounds and other chemicals in order to be certified.

However, the CRI plans to release a more wide-ranging Sustainable Carpet Assessment Standard (SCAS) at GreenBuild in Chicago in November.

Bob Peoples, director of sustainability with CRI, says the standard will be published through the American National Standards Institute and will take a holistic approach to environmental sustainability.

“We focus on more than just a single attribute. There are five major categories of performance,” Peoples said.

The SCAS addresses chemicals and materials used in manufacturing, the energy used in production, the use of content that is recycled or bio-based, end-of-life programs for products, and the manufacturer’s overall environmental performance (such as environment management systems or ISO certification).

“(SCAS) is designed to look at the whole supply chain and encourage the use of lifecycle inventory and assessment tools,” Peoples said.

“This is the best way to get a true environmental footprint.”

In Canada, CCI executive director Jean-Claude Carisse says his organization is looking forward to the introduction of the SCAS. “We’re anxious to see what they come up with and whether this modifies our program or not,” Carisse said.

He said the Canada Green Building Council’s LEED certification system awards one point for carpeting that meets Green Label standards. Further points can be obtained for other measures such as using recycled materials and reduced transportation.

Jackie Evans, a senior account executive with InterfaceFLOR Commercial and a former CaGBC board member, says the Canadian carpet industry has been diligent about using recycled content and adopting other environmental measures, and the industry has thus largely outgrown LEED.

Lifecycle assessment, which addresses the impact of products from manufacturing through to disposal, would be a logical direction to follow, Evans said. “That’s where we’d like to see it go, because current standards don’t account for climate-neutral products.”

CaGBC new LEED Complete rating system might end up incorporating upgraded standards for carpeting.

“We’re hoping that there will be an overhaul of a number of different things, including materials and carpets, and that you’ll see the inclusion of lifecycle assessment.”

The federal government has initiated a review of its own National Master Specification for carpeting installed in federal buildings, according to Vanessa Martin, a spokesperson with the Office of Greening Government Operations, a part of Public Works and Government Services Canada.

“The draft of this document is nearly complete but, as it is subject to internal review, it would be premature to comment on specific details,” Martin said.

“However, it is expected to include clear environmental specifications, which will be consistent with the federal government’s Policy on Green Procurement.” The Policy, which came into effect on April 1, 2006, requires that environmental considerations be addressed in all federal government procurement. This must be done in the context of ‘value for money,’ meaning that an optimal balance between various considerations, such as cost, performance, quality, and environment, must be achieved when taking procurement action.

by Saul Chernos

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