7 Green Certifications the Multifamily Industry Should Know

EPA LogoMany multifamily property management companies want to be more environmentally responsible and are taking everything from baby steps to giant leaps to become more green. One such way is to purchase more environmentally friendly products for their properties, such as light bulbs and appliances. Typically, these items come with a green certification label of some kind.

But how you know a product is really green? As more and more products and services proclaim they are green, how do you verify their credibility?

Here are seven reputable agencies and programs that HD Supply Facilities Maintenance uses as benchmarks in various environmental areas that you should know before purchasing green products.

Environmental Protection Agency

At HD Supply, we base a lot of our ideallygreenSM program on guidelines and programs created by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The mission of the EPA is to protect human health and the environment, which includes:

  • Taking action on climate change
  • Improving air quality
  • Assuring the safety of chemicals
  • Expanding the conversation on environmentalism and working for environmental justice

The EPA strives to make sure that environmental protection is an integral consideration in U.S. policies concerning natural resources, human health, economic growth, energy, transportation, agriculture, industry, and international trade, and that these factors are similarly considered in establishing environmental policy. This agency spearheads numerous programs and groups (such as WaterSense® and Design for the Environment®) that pave the way for sustainability as we know it today.

WaterSense

WaterSense is a partnership program administered by the EPA. It seeks to protect the future of our nation’s water supply by offering people simple ways to use less water through water-efficient products and services. WaterSense brings together a variety of stakeholders, including manufacturers of water-efficient products and consumers of those products to:

  • Promote the value of water efficiency
  • Provide consumers with easy ways to save water, as both a label for products and a resource to people
  • Decrease water use and reduce strain on water resources and infrastructure

This program helps consumers make smart water choices that save money and maintain high environmental standards without compromising performance. Products and services that have earned the WaterSense label have been certified to be at least 20 percent more efficient without sacrificing quality. Part of what I really like about WaterSense is that it rates products not just on water conservation, but on performance as well. For instance, the WaterSense specifications for showerheads were designed to ensure that customers will not have to sacrifice a good shower in order to achieve water savings. WaterSense-qualified showerheads have to conserve water AND meet coverage and spray intensity metrics.

Design for the Environment

The EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) program works in partnership with industry, environmental groups, and academia to reduce risk to people and the environment by finding ways to prevent pollution. DfE has evaluated and certified more than 2,500 products based on having limited or no human health concerns, environmental considerations, performance, and cost.

ENERGY STAR®

ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), designed to help consumers save money and preserve the environment through energy efficiency.

The ENERGY STAR label is now on many appliances, office equipment, lighting, home electronics, and more. These products are certified to deliver the same or better performance as comparable models while using less energy. Over the past decade, ENERGY STAR has been a driving force behind the more widespread use of such technological innovations as efficient fluorescent lighting, power management systems for office equipment, and low standby energy use. When looking for electronics, be sure to keep your eye out for the ENERGY STAR icon for products that use less energy and save you money on utilities.

EcoLogo

Founded in 1988 by the government of Canada but now recognized worldwide, EcoLogo provides customers with assurance that the products and services bearing this logo meet stringent standards that address various environmental attributes through their life cycle. EcoLogo is designed so that only the top 20% of the market can achieve the certification.

For example, this logo can be found on janitorial products such as paper products, which are evaluated on resource consumption, energy consumption, chemical oxygen demand, sublethal toxicity, and net solid waste.

LEED

As described on its web site: LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognized green building certification system. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in 2000, LEED provides a framework for buildings and their operators to implement practical green building design, construction, operations, and maintenance solutions.

LEED promotes sustainable building and development practices through various rating systems, including Existing Buildings Operation and Maintenance, New Construction, Schools, etc. When you’re looking to make your whole building (from envelope to human comfort) more sustainable, the LEED system will steer you in the right direction. LEED makes a point of not being a product-specific rating system. However, quite a few products can help a building achieve LEED credits.

Green Seal

Green Seal is a nonprofit organization that uses science-based programs to create a more sustainable earth. The group develops life cycle-based sustainability standards for products, services, and companies. Green Seal has been actively identifying and promoting sustainability in the marketplace and helping organizations lessen their environmental impact since 1989.

Green Seal has 30 issued standards that cover over 327 product and service categories ranging from paper products to lighting and controls.

What certifications do you see most frequently in the multifamily industry? Do you follow any certifications beyond the ones listed above?


Sustainability Manager, HD Supply Facilities Maintenance

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Evan Matzen is a LEED® Accredited Professional with over 8 years of industry experience. He is currently the Sustainability Manager at HD Supply, Facilities Maintenance and has worked on energy-efficiency, carbon-offset, and renewable-energy projects throughout the country. He blogs about sustainability and going green at Green Blogic.

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