A Guide to SMaRT Certification

12/01/2014 | By Jennie Morton

Learn about this multi-attribute product logo

SMaRT certification for green products

Has your organization committed to green purchasing? Consider specifying products that have earned Sustainable Materials Rating Technology (SMaRT) certification. This ecologo is one of the few multi-attribute labels for building materials and supplies.

Offered by the Institute for Market Transformation to Sustainability (MTS), an environmental standards developer, SMaRT requires products to meet stringent requirements that satisfy both human health and environmental concerns. By emphasizing people and the planet, the rating provides facility managers with a more complete picture of a product’s lifecycle impacts.

“A good product certification should go beyond the status quo and actually enhance and improve public health and the environment,” stresses Mike Italiano, CEO of MTS.

The certification is consensus-based and was adopted under LEED in 2007. A number of manufacturers have already earned the designation for a wide range of products, including resilient flooring, furniture, carpet, electrical switchgear, bricks, lighting, and piping.

“Third-party certifications are critical to achieving transparency as they validate Milliken’s ongoing efforts to be a sustainability leader,” says Philip Ivey, strategic sustainability leader for the company’s global floor covering division. “Our company was drawn to SMaRT because it is a comprehensive multi-attribute certification that addresses both product components and company manufacturing practices.”

“SMaRT has been important in validating the environmental objectives Eaton incorporates in our products,” adds Phil Fischer, data center segment manager. “The certification took a great deal of commitment, resulting largely from a commissioned lifecycle assessment that compared the materials used in manufacturing, energy consumed during construction, and costs associated with transportation. The process provided valuable insight about the green benefits of our products.”

Rigorous Requirements
SMaRT has a much broader scope than others on the market, drawing from over 50 individual standards. Products that earn the label have been thoroughly vetted so facility managers can be confident that all environmental concerns have been examined.

Multi-Attribute Label – Some product certifications focus on a sole area of consideration. For example, the ENERGY STAR label is only for efficiency and FloorScore is concerned with just IAQ. While these standards have value, a multi-attribute label allows purchasers to understand a product’s impacts in more than one area. SMaRT requires products to earn points in six key areas:

■ Safe for Public Health and Environment
■ Renewable Energy and Energy Reduction
■ Biobased or Recycled Materials
■ Facility or Company Requirements
■ Reclamation, Sustainable Reuse, or End-of-Life Management
■ Innovation in Manufacturing

“Truly sustainable products encompass more than one green attribute,” Ivey says. “Every aspect of a product should incorporate sustainability, from recycled materials and product components that increase longevity to company environmental and safety policies and efforts to reduce carbon footprints.”

Safe for the Planet and People – SMaRT is one of the few ratings that requires a product to document environmental and health considerations. It starts with an environmental product declaration (EPD), which looks at the ecological impacts of a product’s manufacturing process, including raw material extraction, production, packaging, transportation, and disposal. Because EPDs don’t address human toxicity, SMaRT also requires a health product declaration (HPD), which identifies chemicals of concern.

Stringent Chemical Restrictions – SMaRT cites over 4,000 toxic chemicals that are flagged by the EPA, the U.N. Environmental Program, and the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, It also includes the Stockholm-Rotterdam Toxic Chemicals Treaty, which bans PVC, as well as a carcinogen policy.

Manufacturers must inventory their product’s entire supply chain for these chemicals, Italiano explains. Products then earn credits if any of the flagged chemicals have been eliminated.

“Our company decided more than 20 years ago to remove PVC from our entire North American carpet offerings. SMaRT certification helps us communicate this feature,” Ivey notes.

Legal Verification – While third-party testing has become the industry standard for verification, SMaRT is the only label that currently requires applicants to sign a legally binding certification that all disclosed information is “accurate and not misleading.” This ensures that sustainability claims are consistent with the FTC Environmental Marketing Guides, adds Italiano.

Disposal Considerations – SMaRT also rewards companies that ensure disposal options are environmentally friendly. Both Eaton and Milliken, for example, offer donation, refurbishment, or recycling programs to prevent their products from going to waste.

“Reuse is important because so many green products still end up in the landfill,” Italiano says. “Even if an item has high recycled content, for example, that may not save it from the dumpster and possibly leeching chemicals into the environment.”

Given the number of products used in your facility, specifying items with a multi-attribute label like SMaRT adds another way to boost your organization’s green credibility.

Jennie Morton jennie.morton@buildings.com is senior editor of BUILDINGS.

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