Product Declarations and Certifications
There are many means by which individual building products and appliances can be rated and quantified. The market is over-ripe with ecological certification programs; many are simple greenwashing tools, but some are stringent and meaningful. Many of the best programs are relatively new, and have not yet built up large inventories of products. However, these will continue to grow and should be checked regularly as they grow in size.
There are two different streams of product certifications — product declarations and product certifications — each of which would be used differently by a project team.
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These certifications do not necessarily attempt to qualify whether or not a product is better or worse for the environment; they focus on transparency, informing buyers of the complete ingredients of the product. Some declaration programs also include information about the source of raw materials, whether or not recycling programs exist, and whether the product meets other environmental standards.
A product declaration requires the project team to understand the information provided and to put it into the context of the project criteria.
It is entirely possible for a product declaration to contain information that would disqualify the product for use in the project; its appearance in the database does not indicate a particular level of performance, only a high degree of transparency.