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Beyond Greenwashing: Finding the Truth through Product Certification

Session Description

This panel discussion will focus on green product certification, which is a process for verifying
manufacturers’ claims of their products’ environmentally preferable attributes, such as recycled content,
low VOC, or energy efficiency. The panel will be moderated by Lynn N. Simon, AIA, President of
Simon & Associates, Inc., Green Building Consultants. The other panelists are: Kirsten Ritchie, Director
of Environmental Claims Certification for Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), Dr. Robert Peoples,
Director of Sustainability for the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), and Miriam Landman, Senior Associate
at Simon & Associates, Inc. Panelists will address the “greenwashing” phenomenon (false or misleading
marketing claims about products’ environmental attributes) and will discuss the ways in which
certification standards can help overcome this problem. The panel will describe and compare various
certification groups and approaches, as well as specific labels and standards, including the CRI Green
Label Plus, Energy Star, and California’s Section 01350 standards. They will also talk about how
building rating systems, such as LEED, are referencing specific product certification standards, and how
standards are becoming more stringent over time as demand grows for green and healthy products.

Handout Materials (for the CD):

- Resource list: Green Building Product Standards and Certification Resources

- SCS Standard Specification for the Evaluation and Certification of Environmentally Preferable

- SCS Indoor Air Quality Performance, Environmental Certification Program

- SCS Environmentally Preferable Product Assessment Summary for an Interface carpet line

- SCS Certified Products List

- Print-out of the SCS slide presentation

- CHPS (Collaborative for High Performance Schools) Section 01350 Specifications: Special
Environmental Requirements

- Section 01350 Standard Practice for the Testing of Volatile Organic Emissions from Various
Sources Using Small-Scale Environmental Chambers

- CRI Green Label (Carpet, Cushion, and Adhesives) and Green Label Plus Standards

- CRI Green Label (Carpet, Cushion, and Adhesives) and Green Label Plus Product Lists

Lynn N. Simon, AIA, is President of Simon & Associates, Inc., Green Building Consultants. Established
in 1994, Simon & Associates is a green building consulting firm that addresses sustainable and healthy
building design and construction practices. Ms. Simon’s firm is working on a wide range of projects
including the new UC Merced Campus and a YMCA in East Palo Alto. Her firm has completed four
LEED certified projects. Lynn is a green building pioneer and a leading authority in the industry. She has
served on the Board of Directors of several leading building industry organizations, including the AIA
San Francisco Chapter Board for four years and the U.S. Green Building Council’s Board for six years.
She is currently serving on the USGBC’s Curriculum and Accreditation Committee where she is Chair of
the LEED Accredited Professional Task Force. She is a LEED Faculty member and a LEED Accredited
Professional. Ms. Simon is a licensed Architect in the state of California and has her Bachelor of Art in
Architecture from UC Berkeley and a Master of Architecture from the University of Washington. In
2003, she received the AIACC Presidential Citation Public Service Honor Award.

Miriam Landman is Senior Associate with Simon & Associates, Inc., Green Building Consultants, and
she is also a freelance writer. Simon & Associates is a green building consulting firm that addresses
sustainable and healthy building design and construction practices; the firm has completed four LEED
certified projects. Miriam is a LEED Accredited Professional and she serves on the Research Committee
of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Northern California Chapter. She is also on the Technical Advisory
Council of GreenHomeGuide.com. Previously, she worked as a Green Building Program Associate for
the non-profit organization Global Green USA. She has also worked for National Public Radio's Living
on Earth program as a producer and reporter, and she was the marketing manager for Mostue &
Associates Architects in Boston. She has written numerous articles on green building and other
environmental topics, published by the Environmental News Network, KQED.org, and other media
outlets. Ms. Landman received her Master’s degree in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning
from Tufts University, and her Bachelor’s degree is in Community Studies from University of California,
Santa Cruz.

Kirsten Ritchie is the Director of Scientific Certification System’s (SCS) Environmental Claims
Certification Program, the nation’s first scientific program for independently verifying the accuracy of
environmental claims on products. Instituted in 1990 and addressing issues such as certified recycled
content, biodegradability, indoor air quality performance and environmentally preferable products, the
program continues to grow, with hundreds of manufacturers, representing thousands of products,
evaluated and certified annually. Certified product categories include, for example, insulation, flooring,
roofing materials, paint, composite panels, and cleaning products. In addition to her auditing and
management responsibilities, Ms. Ritchie serves as lead researcher and developer of environmentally
preferable product specifications. Using a combination of life-cycle impact assessment, risk assessment,
environmental resource-based studies and knowledge of best available technologies, Ms. Ritchie has
spearheaded the development and implementation of the EPP specifications for SCS as well as clients
including the State of California. Ms. Ritchie is a licensed civil engineer with over twenty years of
experience in improving the environmental profile of a wide range of built systems and manufactured
products. Ms. Ritchie currently serves as the Chair of the ASTM Task Force on Environmentally
Preferable Products and as Vice-Chair of the USGBC Material and Resources Technical Advisory Group.

Dr. Robert Peoples, Ph.D. is the Director of Sustainability for the Carpet & Rug Institute, Executive
Director of The Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) and President of the Environmental Impact
Group. In these roles Bob serves to integrate a wide variety of initiatives that deal with sustainability on a
national level. His efforts span new business development working with entrepreneurs and the
development of a unified national carpet standard. Prior to joining CRI, Dr. Peoples served as Director of
Carpet Sustainability and Market Development at Solutia Inc. where he was actively involved in carpet
recycle, technology licensing, and carpet related health and indoor air quality issues. He was with
Monsanto/Solutia for over 24 years starting out in Pensacola in 1979. His assignments have included
Intermediates R&D, where he began his career as a bench chemist before promotion into technical
management. Upon moving into the Fibers Division he was involved in the testing and development of
stainblocker and fluorochemistry for the carpet industry. He then moved on to lead efforts to
commercialize a new business for Monsanto in St. Louis where he spent three years in Advanced
Performance Materials. He returned to Pensacola in 1992 as head of Carpet New Products and has held
several positions of increasing responsibility in this area including Director of Nylon Technology. Dr.
Peoples holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and chemistry and a Ph.D. in Physical Organic
Chemistry from Purdue University.