An Update on Carpet Standards

Nov. 1, 2008

A new certification system helps specifiers determine the sustainability attributes of carpet products

As organizations like yours incorporate sustainable practices, product manufacturers are revising their R&D and production plans to address market demand. A major challenge has been the reliability and understanding of sustainable product standards that result in better, greener products.

The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), Dalton, GA, set out to provide a single, easy rating certification system for carpet and rugs. With the assistance of Ann Arbor, MI-based NSF Intl., a Sustainable Carpet Assessment Standard was created late last year: NSF/ANSI Standard 140-2007. Similar to the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED rating system, NSF awards a Silver, a Gold, or a Platinum certification to manufacturers based on five categories (defined in the next column). [Editor's Note: Because questions were raised regarding the implications of the term "environmentally preferable product" (EEP) as it related to carpet products and the sustainability achievement levels originally defined, NSF/ANSI Standard 140-2007e was released in July 2008. References to EPP have been removed with respect to carpet product achievement levels; the term has been disassociated with the Gold and Platinum levels of the standard. This change has no impact on the defined requirements for compliance to the standard.]

Nearly 5 years in development by a multi-stakeholder, consensus-based group, the original NSF/ANSI 140-2007 was designed to establish a system with varying levels of certification to define sustainable carpet. According to NSF Intl., the industry group developed the original standard to provide information to help specifiers sort out information on sustainable attributes.

NSF/ANSI 140-2007e addresses the triple bottom line of sustainability methodologies - economic, environmental, and social - throughout the supply chain by measuring the environmental footprint of carpet products in five major performance categories:

  1. Manufacturing. This category encourages corporate environmental responsibility and achievements; a manufacturer can gain points for completing the life-cycle assessment (from obtaining raw materials to final disposal or reuse) of their carpet.
  2. Energy and energy efficiency. Manufacturers get points for tracking greenhouse-gas emissions in the production of carpet lines, as well as the use/balance of renewable energy and fossil-based fuels.
  3. Bio-based or recycled materials. Manufacturers can achieve points by using bio-based content, such as biological products, renewable agricultural substances, or forestry materials. Recycled or reused materials also count, and are calculated using a percentage value of such content to total product weight.
  4. End-of-life management and reclamation. This category builds upon the Memorandum of Understanding for Carpet Stewardship signed in 2002 by members of the carpet industry, as well as government agencies and other organizations; signatories promised to keep at least 40 percent of the total amount of carpet produced out of landfills by 2012.
  5. Public health and environment. This category awards points to manufacturers that take steps to minimize energy and pollutants that may adversely affect public health and the environment.

Benefits of Sustainable Practices and Certification

FOR Specifiers

FOR Manufacturers

Reduces environmental impact

Saves costs

Reduces liability

Demonstrates design innovation

Contributes toward LEED certification

Reduces liability

Reduces carbon footprint

Differentiates products

Demonstrates social responsibility

Market recognition

Positions you as an industry leader

Helps establish long-term client relationships


Linda K. Monroe, former editorial director at Buildings magazine, is now an editorial advisor to the brand.

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