Live coverage from NeoCon 2013: Association Forum – Sustainability in Wallcoverings
For designers trying to determine the true green quality of the various wallcovering products on the market, the task can be laborious. For example, suppose you find a product that passes indoor air quality benchmarks, but falls short in sustainable manufacturing practices? What makes one wallcovering product “greener” than another? This determination often requires a “lesser of two evils” cost-benefit analysis of various factors, and is usually left to each designer to decipher.
Similar to the carpet industry, the wallcoverings industry recently adopted a rigorous multi-attribute standard system that measures and certifies wallcovering products across multiple factors. Working with NSF and ANSI, the Wallcoverings Association created the NSF/ASNI 342 standard which employs an easy-to-use point system to evaluate wallcovering products against established requirements, performance criteria and quantifiable metrics in six key areas including product design, product manufacturing, long-term value, end-of-life management and corporate governance and innovation.
“In short, the standard provides designers a short-cut to assessing the sustainability of a product in one place,” says Giselle Walsh, director of environmental affairs for the Wallcoverings Association. “Designers have the advantage and peace of mind knowing that these products have been rigorously vetted and meet multiple benchmarks, not just one or two.”
Interestingly, even vinyl coverings can be certified under the new standard if the product earns enough points across factors such as its long-term value, end-of-life management and innovation. While many don’t tend to think of vinyl as a “green” product, if it is manufactured responsibly and used — and repurposed — effectively, it could be considered for certification according to the guidelines.
The standard was launched in 2010, with the first product certified in 2012 — evidence of the rigorous review that products must undergo to receive the stamp of approval. So far, the standard has been adopted by industry leaders including the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) and Green Globes (GBI), and is under consideration by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). To learn more about what to look for when choosing your next wallcovering product, visit the Wallcoverings Association website.
Photo: courtesy Kravet, Industry Partner of ASID