Where Health and Sustainability Meet
Posted by Steve Kleber on Apr 09, 2010
K&A’s trip to the GREENGUARD offices
The “green movement” as we think of it today has gone through a considerable amount of changes since Rachel Carson’s landscape changing book Silent Spring and the legislative fervor of the 1970s. But somewhere between Teddy Roosevelt and the eco-friendly consumer-driven developments of today, “greenwashing” occurred, and it caused a major roadblock.
As a result, green certifications and ecolabels started popping up like Starbucks franchises, and the demand is increasing along with their use in government and business purchasing strategies. When you Google “green certifications,” the number of Web sites that appear as a result is almost disheartening. However, when I realized one of the leading certification institutes, GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI), is located in our backyard, I arranged for the K&A team to go on – what they like a call – a fieldtrip to check out the facilities.
What’s unique about GEI is that it focuses on indoor air quality: what you’re breathing and what you’re inhaling. Additionally, they created third-party certification programs that determine suitable product emission standards and certify low-emitting products. This applies to everything from office chairs to printers.
One of the most interesting things I took away from the meeting is their vision of how health and sustainability are interwoven. Sustainability is all about health. Water conservation, emissions reduction, and even saving the rainforest all eventually contribute to human health and survival.
Pollution is a hot topic when it comes to human health. And research proves that indoor air can be more polluted than the air outside. Who knew? Considering most of our lifetime is spent indoors, I think this is a big issue. In fact, on average, people spend 90 percent of their time indoors. The company is so passionate about indoor air quality, they rigorously test GREENGUARD certified products on a regular basis to ensure consistency in low emission levels.
According to GEI, materials used to make furnishings, equipment and other indoor products emit thousands of different chemicals such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particles into the air. These pollutants go unnoticed at first, but can have negative long-term effects.
I was quite impressed with this facility and team, and am proud that our client Dwyer Products has a line of custom steel and thermofoil cabinetry designated GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified ®.
It’s as simple as this: When your indoor air is clean, you’re healthier. And that’s exactly what GEI aims to improve in homes, public buildings and schools.
You can learn more about GEI by visiting its Web site, or tweet them @GREENGUARD.