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Evaluation Tool


Tool Category

Standards, Certifications & Labels

At a Glance

The Greenguard Environmental Institute (GEI) offers performance-based product certification programs and a building certification program aimed at enhancing indoor air quality and reducing people’s exposure to toxic chemicals and other pollutants. Products and materials are certified for low chemical emissions by meeting stringent chemical emissions standards based on criteria established by key public health agencies.

Retailers can access a searchable database that enables them to search for Greenguard certified products.

Tool Website(s)

Tool Owner/Sponsor

The Greenguard Environmental Institute (GEI)

Type of Entity

For profit

Focus of Evaluation

Substances, products

Product Stage of Life Evaluated

Consumer use

Impact(s) Evaluated

Air emissions, human health, worker health and safety

Tool Description

Greenguard Certification Standards for Low-Emitting Products includes test methods, allowable emission levels, product sample collection and handling, testing type and frequency as well as program application processes and toxicity limits. They are primarily for building materials, finishes, interior furnishings, furniture, cleaning products and electronic equipment. The certification programs are:

(1) GGPS.001.GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Standard for Building Materials, Finishes and Furnishings. The basic certification program for low-emitting products. Emissions criteria are established and may vary based on the product formulation and use. All products are screened and reported for carcinogens and reproductive toxins as listed by key government and regulatory programs.

(2) GGPS.002.GREENGUARD Children & SchoolsSM Standard. Targets products used where children and sensitive populations spend time, such as schools, daycare centers, and hospitals. Products must meet all the requirements of the basic Greenguard Indoor Air Quality Certified program, as well as emissions limits in California's Department of Public Health Services Standard Practice for Specification Section 01350. To account for inhalation exposure to young children with greater sensitivities, the standard applies a body burden correction factor to current allowable emission levels from indoor materials and furnishings. Limits on VOCs and phthalates are also included.

(3) GGPS.003.GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Standard for Office Equipment (Hardcopy Devices). Relies on emission criteria as established by Germany’s Blue Angel Program for hard copy devices. Products must meet the Blue Angel emission requirements for ozone, total dust, benzene, styrene and TVOC, in addition to Greenguard-specific requirements for formaldehyde, respirable particles and specific individual VOCs.

(4) GGPS.004.GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Standard for Electronic Equipment. Applies to the determination of organic emissions from electronic equipment including consumer electronics, medical devices and non-print office equipment. The standard requires product emissions be less than defined risk-based air concentration levels for both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) exposures.

(5) GGPS.005. The GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Standard for Cleaners and Cleaning Maintenance Systems. Applies to VOC's from cleaners and cleaning maintenance systems. The standard requires product emissions be less than defined risk-based air concentration levels for both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) exposures.

Product Categories

Building Materials & Products; Cleaning & Janitorial Products (Residential & Commercial/Industrial); Electronics; Furniture; Paints & Coatings

Tool Requirements

Manufacturers apply for Greenguard certification and GEI develops a customized certification plan based on the their unique product line, manufacturing process and certification goals. The timeline depends on the complexity of the product and the number of manufacturing locations and test groups. It can take up to several months.

Cost of Tool

Testing costs vary according to the size of the company, and number of products and product lines being tested. It can range from $20,000-40,000. After initial certification, products/product lines are tested quarterly for a minor fee.

Annual licensing fees of $3,000-5,000 are paid to use the certification and marketing support, and promote the certification in the market place.

Evaluation Frequency

Re-certification for products is required annually along with quarterly quality monitoring to ensure ongoing compliance.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths: A rigorous indoor air quality certification that includes actual emissions testing. Certification has good brand awareness worldwide. Standards and methods for certification are posted on the website.

Weaknesses: Focuses only on product use stage. Human health or environmental impacts of products during manufacturing, transportation, and end of life are not evaluated.

Examples of Retailers That Use It

Home Depot, Lowes, Office Depot, Office Max, Staples, Walmart

For More Information

GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI): (800) 427-9681 or (770) 984 9903,

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