The Facts on GREENGUARD Certification

Key Takeaways:
  • The Greenguard Environmental Institute, or GEI, is the non-profit behind GREENGUARD certification.
  • GEI develops stringent chemical emission standards for commercial furniture.
  • GREENGUARD Certified furniture contributes to healthier indoor air.

Who or what handles GREENGUARD certification?

The Greenguard Environmental Institute, or GEI, is the industry-independent, non-profit organization behind the certification process. Founded in 2001, the mission of GEI is to improve indoor air quality by reducing people’s exposure to airborne chemicals and pollutants commonly found in building materials, furniture, electronic equipment, cleaning products and more. The safety science company UL Environment acquired GEI in 2011, and today its certification program is recognized by building programs, safety standards and specifications worldwide. The organization offers two tiers of rigorous certification – GREENGUARD and GREENGUARD Gold.

What does GREENGUARD Certified mean?

Products that are GREENGUARD Certified meet GEI’s stringent standards for low chemical emissions, and therefore help reduce indoor air pollution and the risk of exposure to harmful chemicals. GREENGUARD certified products have been rigorously tested for more than 10,000 individual volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. To maintain a GREENGUARD credential, products must undergo regular monitoring and complete an annual re-certification.

What are VOCs?

VOCs are a group of chemicals used to manufacture indoor furnishings, building materials, cleaning products, cosmetics and more. For example: upholstery, foam, paint, carpet and vinyl are common sources of VOCs.

Once indoors, these chemicals “off-gas” into the air we breathe. Short term exposure to VOCs can cause headaches, irritation of the ear, nose and throat, dizziness and asthma symptoms. Long term exposure to certain VOCS (years to a lifetime) can lead to liver or kidney damage, central nervous system damage and cancer.

According to UL’s website, studies have found that there may be “anywhere from 50 to hundreds of individual VOCS in the indoor air at any one time”. By purchasing furniture that’s GREENGUARD or GREENGUARD Gold certified for your school or office, you’re contributing to a healthier indoor environment and reducing people’s risk of exposure to chemicals.

How are products tested?

Products are tested by sitting in dynamic, environmentally controlled chambers for a period of time to determine how many VOCs “gas off”. Testing can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. After the testing period is over, the levels of VOCs in the stainless-steel chambers are measured. If the emission levels are low, then a GREENGUARD or GREENGUARD Gold certification is awarded.

What is the GREENGUARD Gold Certification?

The GREENGUARD Gold certification, or GEI’s second tier offering, was developed in 2005 to meet the indoor air quality needs of sensitive environments like schools, daycares and health care facilities. Products that are GREENGUARD Gold Certified meet an even lower level of chemical emissions, plus health-based criteria for additional chemicals. In fact, studies have shown that improving indoor air in schools has a positive impact on students’ attendance, productivity and test scores. That’s why we’re proud to carry a wide range of GREENGUARD Gold Certified early learning products. You’ll find everything from preschool tables and chairs to cots and mats with the GREENGUARD Gold certification in our catalog.

By purchasing furniture that is GREENGUARD Certified, you are contributing to a healthier indoor environment. Have questions, or need help finding GREENGUARD furniture for your space? Give us a call at 1-800-260-2776 or email sales@schooloutfitters.com. – we’re ready to assist you.

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