Good Green Guidelines

Not long ago, the field of sustainable design was a new concept for many people. However, due to the increasing number of green messages from advertisers and on-going conversations about climate change, everyone pretty much gets the idea— “green is good.” Nevertheless, it is more important than ever to discern a green product from one that somebody might be trying to sell you as eco-friendly. It seems everyone wants to cash in on the green bandwagon.
It pays to do your homework, after all, green home products are a better choice for your health and the planet.

The first and perhaps easiest step to take is to identify the eco-label on the product you are considering. Keep in mind however, that not all eco-labels are created equally. In addition, if you run across self-certified green products be prepared to dig deep as these eco-labels are often times nothing more than self-serving or greenwashing.

I highly recommend you visit the websites of the organizations below where you will find green-labeled products from some of the industry’s most respected third-party certification programs. It is a first step to help you navigate the green marketplace before your next home improvement project.

Energy Star
A joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, which strives to provide a meaningful differentiation between the federal minimum standards for energy- and water-efficient products and appliances and those carrying the Energy-Star-label.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC Certified)
An independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.

GREENGUARD Certification
The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute is an accredited, third-party organization that certifies products and materials for low chemical emissions (this includes low-VOCs). All certified products must meet stringent chemical emissions standards based on criteria from key public health agencies.

Scientific Certification Systems
Is a third-party standards development and environmental testing organization. Their eco-labeled products span across a broad range of categories and industries, for example, one product may be certified for recycled content and another for indoor air quality. 

Green Seal Certification
An independent non-profit organization dedicated to developing life cycle-based standards for products, services and companies. Their eco-labeled products also span a broad range of products and industries.


  1. Thanks for this post, Tracy. With so many companies getting on the "green" bandwagon (fraudulently) it's nice to have a guide for finding certified green products.

  2. Valerie Hill3:10 PM

    This is very helpful, Tracy. There are so many labels making so many different claims, that one starts to get skeptical!

  3. Yes, even Energy Star had some trouble with their rating system being used fraudulently last year. Also, we may be in for an eco-label green product shakedown! The U.S. Federal Trade Commission just revised its Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims. So, I think we can expect to see some major changes in how companies promote their green products down the road.


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