GREENGUARD Indoor Air Guardian
GreenGuard Indoor Air Guardian




July 2010

Right now, Americans are on the brink of a watershed in the “green” building and design movement: for the first time, the health impacts of chemical off-gassing are fueling the development of an ANSI standard for product emissions.

Jointly led by the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute and NSF International, the new health-based emissions standard will take into account the knowledge, expertise, and informed opinions of all stakeholders—including experienced health professionals. It will also be adoptable as code, leading to the required use of low-emitting products and materials in new construction projects like schools and healthcare facilities.

“This is tremendously important because it opens up the opportunity for health specialists—those with key insight into the physical risks associated with chemical inhalation exposure—to shape a standard that could have far-reaching consequences on the green building and design industry,” says Henning Bloech, executive director of the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute. “The consensus-based approach of ANSI standard development provides a valuable forum for exchanging ideas and learning about the issue at hand. We are excited to raise deeper public awareness about the health implications of chemical off-gassing—and to take action to protect us all.”

A Streamlined Standard

Today’s landscape of chemical emissions standards is vast and nebulous; from Japan to Germany to Capitol Hill to the State of California, the industry is awash in dozens of standards, many of which have their own unique requirements. Until now, however, none was developed on a purely health-based platform. That’s why the new GEI-NSF standard will be so valuable. And, since it will be adoptable as federal, state and/or local code, it can help raise the bar on the creation and maintenance of healthier indoor environments.

“We anticipate that this standard will be an advantage to manufacturers, architects, designers, code officials and, of course, the end-users,” says Dr. Marilyn Black, founder of the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute. “Why? Because when we put health first, everyone benefits.”

Upping the Ante

For industry professionals who want to go above and beyond code requirements and demonstrate leadership in the creation of healthier indoor air, independent leadership standards—such as those developed by the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute—can supplement code. For example, the GREENGUARD Children & SchoolsSM Standard, which on one hand complies with California Section 01350 (CA 01350) requirements, actually imposes far stricter emissions limits than CA 01350—making it, on the other hand, far more rigorous and comprehensive. Products that are GREENGUARD Children & Schools Certified are therefore indicative of a manufacturer’s desire to position itself as a vanguard in the movement to create healthier indoor environments.

“Everything starts somewhere,” Bloech says. “What’s great about the GEI-NSF ANSI standard is that it will provide that starting point for industry professionals in pursuit of their sustainability goals.”

For a complete update on the GEI-NSF ANSI standard development process, see the Sustainability News section of this newsletter.

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Reference the GREENGUARD Product GuideSM for specific certified products.





9 to 5 Seating
9 to 5 Seating, founded in 2001, is the mid-market seating division of Cyrus Business Furniture which has served the office furniture industry since 1982. 9 to 5 Seating’s unique approach to the mid-market includes in house manufacturing of components normally purchased by other manufacturers. This approach yields the ability to stand independent of suppliers as one organization committed to converting the finest raw materials into high quality office seating solutions with substantial cost savings which are always passed onto the consumer. For more information, visit




Erich Keller AG
For over 30 years, the Switzerland-based Erich Keller AG has specialized in the design and manufacture of innovative solutions for the trading desk market. One of the company’s unique innovations is the worktop integrated cooling system, Cool-Top. This system guarantees a draft-free air conditioning solution in rooms with a high level of heat exposure. With over 35,000 dealing desks installed worldwide (6,000 with Cool-Top), purchasers can count on Erich Keller AG’s experience and continuity. For more information, visit


Evans Consoles
Founded in 1980 and privately owned, Evans Consoles is the world leader in the design and manufacturing of custom control room solutions for mission critical and other technology-intensive environments. Specializing in custom console, millwork and audio-visual enclosure solutions, Evans has built the reputation over the last 30 years of providing quality and service that continues to lead the industry. For more information, visit



Forbo Bonding Systems
Forbo Bonding Systems is one of the world’s top suppliers of industrial adhesives for the building, furniture, assembly, automotive, graphic arts, packaging and paper converting markets. Adhesives manufactured globally include: water based (swift®tak); reactive hot melts (swift®lock); thermoplastic hot melts (swift®therm); and reactive liquids (swift®bond). Forbo Bonding Systems is the adhesive division of Forbo Group, headquartered in Baar, Switzerland. North American headquarters are located in Morrisville, NC. For more information, e-mail




Ultrafabrics creates beautiful, luxurious 100% polyurethane surfaces with outstanding performance features that are relevant to your life. Through state-of-the-art technology, Ultrafabrics is able to offer a wide range of beautiful, soft, luxurious surface options for upholstery, walls, and anywhere anyone might choose to sit. Ultrafabrics’ gives you the flexibility and functionality to take the same luxurious material you enjoy in your living room to your RV, your boat, your corporate jet, your office, to the hotel, spa, outside by the pool… anywhere. For more information, visit


United Stationers Supply Co.
United Stationers Inc. is a leading North American wholesale distributor of business products, including technology products, office products, office furniture, janitorial and breakroom supplies, and industrial products. United Stationers primarily serves commercial and contract business products dealers and industrial product distributors. Its customer base includes more than 25,000 resellers. For more information, visit


University Loft Company
Founded in 1986, University Loft Company has grown into an industry-leading furniture manufacturer serving over 1,200 colleges and universities. The company has used skills in the design of wood, metal, and glass furniture to expand into hospitality, clubs, churches, U.S. military, fashion plumbing, kitchen and bath markets. LOFT has focused on creating products that can withstand rigorous daily use, but at the same time, be trendy, space saving, interchangeable, and eco-friendly. For more information, visit







Accent Signage Systems
Accent Signage Systems, Inc. is an award winning wholesale fabricator of ADA-compliant interior signage systems for both the national and international markets. Accent specializes in applying science and technology in a lean manufacturing environment that pays attention to its ecological footprint. As an EPA Green Power Partner, Accent is committed to reducing the risk of climate change through the purchase of green power and, in particular, uses wind power in the production of the Materia™ Ecology Series signage. For more information, visit




Design Options
Design Options, founded in 1981, manufactures steel modular office. Initially, the company designed office tables and peripheral furniture products to support an emerging technology: computers. In 2007, Design Options was purchased and is now classified as a women-owned small business. The company’s goal is to continue to satisfy customer's needs with quality products that are delivered on time, guaranteed for life, and environmentally friendly. For more information, visit


Durcon, Inc.
Durcon Incorporated® is the world’s leading supplier of Laboratory Grade work surface systems. Available in traditional and environment friendly formulations, all Durcon products are GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality® Certified and GREENGUARD Children & SchoolsSM Certified.

Elements environmentally friendly countertops are the newest durable surfacing solution from Durcon. These sleek tops are molded from high-tech resin, silica and finely ground post-consumer recycled glass to create a rock solid, LEED friendly, low impact addition to any residential or commercial application. For more information, visit


Executive Cabinetry, LLC
Executive Cabinetry manufactures custom and semi-custom kitchen, bath, and specialty furniture sold primarily through an independent dealer network in the U.S. The company is an industry leader in new product design and development with a focus on providing cabinetry to meet the needs of environmentally conscious consumers. For more information, visit




For over 30 years, Jonti-Craft, Inc.® has been the leading manufacturer of high quality wood and laminate classroom furniture for the early learning market. All of Jonti-Craft’s products meet or exceed industry safety standards, such as the CPSIA, and nearly all of our products are made in the USA. Jonti-Craft manufactures a wide variety of products from tables to storage units and lockers. For more information, call 800.543.4149 or visit




Southern Wall Products
Southern Wall Products, Inc. (SWP) manufactures Ruco® and RuCoat® interior wall and ceiling finishing materials for the construction trade. SWP developed the Ruco Green program to ensure its products surpass current environmental standards while maintaining a high level of performance. The products are tested on a regular schedule. Certified products may qualify for LEED credits and other green building incentives. More information about SWP is available at




The Unicell modular system of transport and storage products was designed to meet the drive for cost containment and operational efficiency in the healthcare industry. With the growing need for uncompromising standards of patient care and employee well-being, facilities must maximize every investment. Unicell Clinical Storage and Transportation Systems have a seamless design, offering superior cleanliness and structural integrity that exceeds the industry standard for performance and durability making it the system of choice. For more information, visit


More certified manufacturers

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A new interactive animation on the GREENGUARD Web site educates consumers, builders, architects, designers, and product manufacturers about common sources of indoor air pollution in homes. The virtual tour allows users to “walk through” the rooms of a family residence and learn about the various products and materials that can emit chemicals. It also offers simple steps people can take to minimize chemical emissions and help create a healthier indoor environment.

Take the tour of the virtual home—including the living room, kitchen, office, master bedroom, nursery, bathroom and basement—by clicking here!

The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute will present a continuing education course at MetroCon’10—the largest regional design-related conference and expo in the U.S.—next month in Dallas, Texas. The one-hour course, entitled “Clearing the Air on Sustainability: Why Good Indoor Air Quality Matters,” qualifies for credits in Commercial Design, Residential Design, Health/Safety/Welfare, Barrier Free, American Institute of Architects, and Sustainability. With a focus on indoor air quality, the course will examine how sustainable design can simultaneously benefit society, the economy, and the environment while improving human health.

Date: Thursday, August 12, 2010

Time: 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. CDT

Presenter: Paul Bates, Market Outreach Manager

For more information, visit

GREENGUARD is proud to be a Platinum Sponsor of Indoor Air 2011, a triennial conference series from the International Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate (ISIAQ). The conference provides a forum for experts from around the world to share their research findings, and will focus on themes such as indoor air quality and climate change; the long-term implications of green building design on indoor air quality; indoor air chemistry and health; connections between local and regional outdoor air quality and the indoor environment; and emerging contaminants.

Indoor Air 2011 will take place in Austin, Texas from June 5-10. For more information, visit

Be sure to pick up a copy of next month’s issue of Environmental Design + Construction (ED+C) magazine, which features a special GREENGUARD editorial section dedicated exclusively to indoor air quality and sustainable building practices. Topics will include an in-depth look at creating healthy, productive indoor environments; specifying certified low-emitting building products; and the GREENGUARD Certification Program and criteria.

Peruse some of GREENGUARD’s past special sections in ED+C by clicking here.

Congratulations to 22-year-old Nathan Bush for winning an Apple iPad in GREENGUARD’s first-ever social media contest last month! Bush used his smart phone and Twitter to take and post photographs of over 75 GREENGUARD Certified product manufacturer showrooms at the NeoCon World’s Trade Fair. Dubbed the “NeoConTWEST,” the competition helped drive attention to GREENGUARD Certified low-emitting products and showcased participating manufacturers’ commitment to healthier indoor environments.

Bush, who recently graduated college with a degree in Interior Architecture, is an aspiring architect with a passion for sustainability and good indoor air quality. Read more about the contest by clicking here.

Congratulations to all of the manufacturers that won Best of NeoCon® 2010 awards for their GREENGUARD Certified products! The winners, in alphabetical order by manufacturer, are as follows:

  • Bernhardt Corvo (Gold Winner)
  • Bernhardt Curio Tables (Gold Winner)
  • Group Lacasse CITE by Lacasse (Gold Winner)
  • Haworth Very Task Chair (Silver Winner)
  • Haworth Very Task Conference (Gold Winner)
  • Highmark InTouch (Editors’ Choice Winner)
  • Keilhauer Cahoots (Gold Winner)
  • KI Soltice II Recliner (Editors’ Choice)
  • Knoll Antenna Workspaces (Innovation Award)
  • Knoll Luxe Rodarte for Knoll Luxe (Gold Winner)
  • Knoll Textiles Screenplay Environmental Technology: Collection Genre and Box Office (Silver Winner)
  • Okamura Leopard Mid-Back (Innovation Award)
  • Momentum Textiles Silica (Gold Winner)
  • Teknion dna Collection Lounge Seating and Tables (Gold Winner)
  • Wilkhahn, Inc. ON® (Silver Winner)
  • Wilkhahn, Inc. ON® (Gold Winner)
  • Wilkhahn, Inc. ON® (Best of Competition)

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The first strategic meeting for the development of a new GEI-NSF health-based standard addressing product chemical emissions got underway last month at NSF International’s headquarters in Ann Arbor, Mich. Approximately 75 stakeholders from around the world participated in the two-day kick-off meeting on June 22 and June 23, either in person or by phone. The meeting included informational presentations about indoor air quality and chemical emissions from Dr. Marilyn Black, founder of the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute; Josh Jacobs, technical information and public affairs manager at the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute; Tony Worthan, president of Air Quality Sciences, Inc.; and Jane Wilson, director of standards for NSF International.

The ANSI standard committee and various stakeholders will now divide into three specialized work groups: one will discuss which products should be addressed by the new standard; another will discuss chemicals; and the last will discuss indoor environments.

Work group openings are still available for institutional health scientists, academics, and toxicologists. If you’d like to participate, e-mail Josh Jacobs at

Public comment hearings for the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) are scheduled to take place next month in Illinois.

The IgCC is comprehensive set of green building code requirements intended to reduce a building’s impact on the natural environment. As its name implies, the IgCC is written in code language and is intended to be adopted by governmental bodies and mandated by code officials.

The second version of the code is due November 3, 2010. For a complete hearing schedule, click here.

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John Wargo is professor of risk analysis, environmental policy, and political science at Yale University. He is the author of Green Intelligence: Creating Environments that Protect Human Health, by Yale Press in 2010. He is also lead author of “LEED Certification: Where Energy Efficiency Collides with Human Health”, published by Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI) in June 2010. Portions of this article are adapted from both of these publications. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.



The green building movement is now thriving in many nations and most green certification programs have grown from efforts to conserve energy and protect environmental quality. Many believe that buildings certified to be green are also healthier buildings. However a more careful examination of the most prominent certification systems, including the LEED program sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), demonstrates that certified buildings offer little increased health protection from hazardous chemicals that may be found in materials, furnishings, and other maintenance products such as cleaning supplies and pesticides. Details may be found in a recent report published by Environment and Human Health, Inc. at

Many energy conserving technologies and building practices create tighter buildings. The effect is to reduce the rate of exchange between indoor and outdoor air. Because indoor air is often more contaminated than outdoor air, the effect can intensify chemical exposures, and increase the likelihood of unintended health loss. In some urban regions, outdoor air is more worrisome.

EPA recently estimated that 150 million Americans live in parts of the nation that do not now meet basic Clean Air Act standards for ozone, and 90 million live in areas that do not meet federal particulate standards. This means that replacement of indoor with outdoor air will simply change exposure to a different mixture of pollutants. Simply increasing ventilation rates therefore offers little assurance of healthy air to have of our population. It would be far better to avoid building with hazardous substances in the first place rather than to assume that expensive HVAC and filtration technologies will sufficiently protect health.

Why should we be concerned about the chemical content of the built environment? In 1999, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began testing hu¬man tissue samples to detect the presence of environmental contaminants. Their scientists reported that most individuals carry a mixture of metals, plastic polymers, pesticides, solvents, fire retardants, and waterproofing agents, all commonly present in modern buildings. Children often carry higher concentrations than adults.

Many of the chemical ingredients in these building materials are hazardous to human health. Some are respiratory stressors, neurotoxins, hormone mimics, carcinogens, reproductive hazards, or developmental toxins. Thousands of synthetic and natural chemicals make up modern buildings, and many materials and products “off-gas” and can be inhaled by occupants. Others may erode from metal or plastic water pipes and end up in a glass of water. Precise measurements of the concentrations emitted by product brand are rarely available, so consumers have no rational basis to choose less risky products.

The number of new synthetic chemicals and building products grew rapidly during last quarter of the 20th century, changing the chemical nature of indoor environments. Coincidentally, the U.S. population experienced the most rapid rise in childhood asthma prevalence every recorded between 1980 and the present. Nationally nearly 16 million Americans—including 9 million children--are struggling with physician-diagnosed asthma, with higher rates of prevalence among children, females, African Americans, and Hispanics. Data suggest that increased chemical exposure in indoor environments may be part of the story. Greater insulation, less ventilation, and an explosion of new chemicals and products within building structures certainly provide one plausible explanation.

Americans now spend, on average, 95 percent of their time indoors. A study by the Kaiser foundation in 2010 found that children spend 97 percent of their time indoors. The time indoors is increasing as our collective fascination with electronic media seems insatiable. This means that our exposure to contaminants present in indoor air is now more complex and likely to be growing.

Widespread use of hazardous chemicals in building materials is growing although understanding the molecular ingredients in specific brands is difficult given the absence of any international labeling requirement. In many ways it would be easier and effective to label products and materials that are free from dangerous substances. This information could better guide developers, architects and engineers to choose less hazardous products. But this approach would demand prior agreement on which chemicals are most worrisome, appropriate testing protocols, product content disclosure, and an assurance of independent certification. Given these conditions and trends, we certainly cannot conclude that green buildings are also healthy buildings.

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The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute is proud to be a recognized USGBC Education Provider and provides numerous accredited Continuing Education Courses related to indoor air quality principles, including the following:

Making the Grade: Healthy Schools Nurturing Healthy Kids (New!)
Credits: AIA (1LU), IDCEC (0.1 CEU), USGBC

Clearing the Air on Sustainability: Why Good Indoor Air Quality Matters
Credits: AIA (1LU), USGBC

Indoor Air Quality and Healing Environments
Credits: AIA (1LU), IDCEC (0.1 CEU), USGBC

Healthy Indoor Air by Design
Credits: AIA (1LU), IDCEC (0.1 CEU), CSI (1-ECH), USGBC

Design to Prevent the Damaging Effects of Mold
Credits: AIA (1LU), CSI (1-ECH)

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The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute serves as a resource for publications and media outlets, providing information on various topics that relate to product emissions and indoor air quality. The following are recent articles and features.

Triple Pundit
GREENGUARD: The Intersection of Sustainability and Health

Interior & Sources
The Missing Link

Long-term Living
Indoor Air Quality: Aging Adults More Vulnerable to Health Complications

Natural Interiors
FloorScore vs. GREENGUARD

Interior Design
Big News from GREENGUARD

Natural Health
Upgrade your air quality

Schoolastic Parent & Child
4 Green Ways to Get Rid of Mold

Tile Dealer
One-On-One with Dr. Black

To read these and past articles, visit the Press Room/Articles under the 'About GEI' tab on the GEI website. Read More...

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