Green Revolution: AIA Pledge & Sustainable Selections
Signing onto the AIA Materials Pledge was just a small step in the process of refreshing our materials library and developing best practices for finish selections. When thinking about our values, health and well-being are at the forefront of our minds. It’s important that we select finishes that support the health of not only our end-users but also our installers and manufacturers.
Developing standards has taken months of research to dive deep into industry standards, third-party certifications, and material content. A pivotal aspect of this process involved gaining a comprehensive understanding of red-list chemicals - where they’re found, what their impacts are, and how we can specify better alternatives. We’ve begun to break down third-party sustainability certifications to understand what they test for and determine which ones best uphold our values. While third-party certifications aren’t the only way to measure impact, health, and sustainability, they provide transparency and reduce the extensive research required to understand material content and manufacturing processes on our end.
In accordance with these values and using green labels as a guide, we’ve developed a color-coded tiered “Good, Better, Best” system to evaluate the finishes in our materials library. We aim to specify materials that meet the Best standards as outlined below while creating more awareness around how our finishes are manufactured.
Evaluates multiple criteria such as chemicals of concern, energy use, social responsibility, and ecosystem health. Some of the green labels in this category include: Cradle to Cradle Silver & Gold, BIFMA LEVEL, Living Product Challenge, and Green Squared.
Includes products that meet California Department of Public Health and LEED V4 standards for VOC emissions. This category includes labels such as Greenguard Gold, SCS Global Services Indoor Air Quality, and Floorscore.
Focuses on transparency of material ingredients and environmental declarations including transparency documents such as: Environmental Product Declarations, Health Product Declarations, Declare, and Mindful Materials.
Designates, with a red sticker, that a product contains chemicals of concern or does not meet stringent VOC requirements.
In developing this label system, we aim to select finishes with a keener eye, eliminate products that don’t meet our standards, and find the holes in our library where we need to seek healthier alternatives. Our industry is ever-changing, as are our sustainability standards. This system is only the beginning of our push to transform our material selection process.
In the pursuit of a greener, healthier future, every step counts, and the AIA Materials Pledge is a testament to our dedication to fostering a sustainable world - one thoughtfully chosen finish at a time.