Sustainable Building Products and Furnishings

  • Overview
  • Commercial Furniture
  • Sustainable Stone and NSC Chain of Custody
  • Carpet
  • Wallcoverings
  • Commercial Furnishings Fabric
  • Benefits
  • Why Partner with NSF?
  • Certification Process

NSF International sustainability standards for building products and furnishings are multi-attribute, life-cycle based American National Standards facilitated by NSF’s National Center for Sustainability Standards (NCSS). They are developed using the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) stakeholder consensus process. This method encourages participation from industry, academia, government, purchasers and other interested parties and helps ensure a broad range of stakeholder interests are represented in the standards development process.

Four of NSF International’s standards are included in the U.S. EPA’s federal purchasing recommendations, which help federal purchasers identify and procure environmentally sustainable products and services. The standards include:

  • NSF/ANSI 140: Sustainability Assessment for Carpet
  • NSF/ANSI 332: Sustainability Assessment for Resilient Floor Coverings
  • NSF/ANSI 336: Sustainability Assessment for Commercial Furnishings Fabric
  • ANSI/BIFMA e3-2014 Furniture Sustainability Standard, a standard co-written with the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association

EPA recognition of NSF International standards is an important step in extending the influence of these sustainability standards to a broader procurement audience. These sustainability standards have been successful in transforming industries, encouraging more sustainable products and processes, and showcase the benefits of industry and stakeholder participation in the development of sustainability standards.

The NSF standards are point-based and provide a ranking of product criteria achievement (conformant, silver, gold, platinum). The ANSI/BIFMA e3 standard awards points to attain level® 1, 2 or 3 certification, with level® 3 being the highest achievement. Categories of criteria vary by standard but generally cover materials, manufacturing processes (inputs and outputs), a company’s social accountability or governance policies and end-of-product-life management. These multi-attribute criteria covering the life cycle of a product make the standards robust in measuring the sustainability traits of a product and the sustainability intent of the manufacturing organization.

NSF sustainability standards for carpet, resilient floor coverings, wallcoverings, commercial furnishing fabric and single ply roofing membranes, as well as the Natural Stone Council standard for natural dimension stone and the BIFMA standard for commercial furniture, can help projects reach LEED certification.

For more information, email sustainability@nsf.org or call 734.769.5192.

Commercial Furniture

The level® sustainability standard was developed by the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) to evaluate and communicate the environmental and social impacts of business furniture products in the built environment. BIFMA’s level® certification program allows the public to make informed choices when purchasing commercial furniture.

The ANSI/BIFMA e3 Furniture Sustainability Standard defines three conformance levels (level 1, level 2, and level 3), with level 3 being the highest achievement for products based on performance requirements and quantifiable metrics in four key areas:

  • Materials
  • Energy and atmosphere
  • Human and ecosystem health
  • Social responsibility

The sourcing and manufacturing processes for environmentally responsible products are becoming more transparent. Commercial furniture that meets the demands of environmentally focused purchasing can use the recognizable level® certification mark.

Sustainable Stone and NSC Chain of Custody

ANSI/NSC 373: Sustainable Production of Natural Dimension Stone establishes criteria to measure the extent to which natural stone is produced sustainably using a life cycle approach. Developed by the Natural Stone Council (NSC) in association with Ecoform, an independent consultant, and NSF International, the standard is applicable to quarriers and processors of natural dimension stone.

NSF International is the NSC’s independent certification body, providing certified companies access to the Genuine Stone® mark that can be used in promotional activities and applied to their individual blocks, slabs, finished pieces, etc. A YouTube video produced by the Natural Stone Council explains the reasons for developing the standard and the benefits of certification.

The standard is a point-based system with prerequisite and optional criteria in nine categories. Each facility operator meeting all of the prerequisite criteria can earn a bronze certification. Silver, gold and platinum require an increasing number of optional criteria be met for certification. Categories include:

  • Energy
  • Water
  • Transportation
  • Site management
  • Land reclamation and adaptive reuse
  • Management of excess process materials and waste
  • Corporate governance
  • Safer chemical and materials management
  • Human health and safety

A companion chain of custody (NSC COC) standard and certification program applies to all aspects of the supply chain, tracking the material as it moves from the quarry through the supply chain to the ultimate destination, including the job site or the end user. For every step of the process, each organization handling the product must be certified to the NSC COC standard in order to retain certification.

Carpet

NSF/ANSI 140: Sustainability Assessment for Carpet is the industry-leading standard for sustainability evaluation and certification of carpet products across their entire life cycle. This standard provides a market-based definition and path to more sustainable carpet through performance requirements for the individual product and the manufacturing organization. In fact, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) requires all broadloom and carpet tile purchased by the U.S. government to be certified to NSF/ANSI 140 at the gold certification level. Certification is based on point totals to achieve a silver, gold or platinum level.

  • Public health and environment
  • Energy and energy efficiency
  • Biobased, recycled content materials and environmentally preferable materials
  • Manufacturing
  • Reclamation and end-of-life management
  • Innovation

Wallcoverings

NSF/ANSI 342: Sustainability Assessment for Wallcovering Products allows companies to evaluate and certify the sustainability of wallcovering products across their entire life cycle. The standard covers materials such as textiles, vinyl, alternative polymer (or vinyl- or alternative polymer-coated), paper and other natural fiber products.

The NSF/ANSI 342 standard assigns point values to prerequisite requirements and elective criteria in a number of categories. Unique to this standard is the requirement to combine points from both the manufacturer and distributor to determine the certification level as conformant, silver, gold or platinum. Each organization is responsible for its own rating and applies for evaluation individually.

Metrics in six key areas are used to assign the point values:

  • Product design
  • Product manufacturing
  • Long-term value
  • End-of-life management
  • Corporate governance
  • Innovation

Manufacturers that are members of the Wallcoverings Association (WA) are authorized to use the WA NSF 342 mark on both their products and for advertising purposes.

Commercial Furnishings Fabric

NSF/ANSI 336: Sustainability Assessment for Commercial Furnishings Fabric is the principal standard used to evaluate and certify sustainability of commercial furnishing fabrics over their entire product life cycle. This standard addresses the environmental, economic and social aspects of furnishing fabric products and uses total points determine certification at a conformant, silver, gold or platinum level.

Based on life-cycle assessment principles, NSF/ANSI 336 employs a point system to evaluate furnishing fabric against established prerequisite requirements, performance criteria and quantifiable metrics in eight key areas:

  • Fiber sourcing
  • Safety of materials
  • Water conservation
  • Water quality
  • Energy
  • Air quality
  • Recycling practices in manufacturing and end of use
  • Social accountability

Benefits

By managing the operational aspects covered by a standard, your organization may gain insights into opportunities for improvement and/or early detection of potential risk conditions. More sustainable and effective management practices may also lead to cost savings.

Independent certification by NSF allows you to:

  • Distinguish your "green" products from your competitors’, making you a preferred vendor to those seeking sustainable solutions
  • Meet state and federal procurement guidelines
    • NSF/ANSI 140, NSF/ANSI 332, NSF/ANSI 336 and BIFMA level® are included in EPA's Recommendations of Specifications, Standards, and Ecolabels for Federal Purchasing
  • Achieve the most credible type of certification available in the marketplace
  • Save money by adopting more sustainable operational practices and business approaches
  • Use the NSF mark on your products and in your advertising

Why Partner with NSF?

With over 70 years of experience in laboratory testing, product reviews, validation and technical excellence, NSF is a preferred third-party certification body. We know the requirements and intent behind each criterion and provide instruction and tools to make certification straightforward and achievable. We are here to partner with you throughout the process to achieve cost-effective, reliable and consistently high quality results.

NSF provides a dedicated project manager who will assist you every step of the way. The project manager serves as the primary program contact and can offer tools and guidance.

Certification Process

NSF has helped thousands of manufacturers obtain both local and international market access by evaluating products to the requirements of multiple product standards. We certify products to sustainable standards using a simple six-step process.

  1. Your company completes the application process and submits signed documents to NSF.
  2. With our guidance, your company submits documentation for an off-site document review.
  3. We conduct an off-site documentation review and provide feedback and data analysis prior to the on-site audit.
  4. We conduct an on-site audit of the manufacturing facility(s).
  5. Once all follow-up is complete, we grant certification and list your certified products on the NSF website.
  6. We schedule annual surveillance audits and notify you of recertification.

NSF sustainability standards follow a three-year certification cycle. Year one is an on-site audit, followed by surveillance/desk audits in years two and three. In year four, the cycle starts again with a recertification on-site audit. Every year, we reach out to you via email 60 days before the mutually agreed-upon deadline for documentation submittal. The email includes a description of that year’s documentation requirements (on a document that we call your “surveillance form” or “recertification form,” depending on your current stage in the cycle).

Our experts can help you reduce overall costs and expedite your time to market by bundling services, which can reduce the number of contracted service providers and required facility audits.

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