Reading Between the Labels


Greenguard meets all the tests for a good green label. It is a true independent third-party certification and is recognized by LEED and just about everyone else, "helping customers choose healthy, low-emitting products and materials and demonstrating a commitment to the environment through better indoor air quality."

So we were surprised to see an ad for Owens Corning's pink fibreglass insulation saying that it had Greenguard certification. We thought it had a formaldehyde binder in it. So how did it get Greenguard?


It seems that rules for getting Greenguard certification don't assess relative levels of goodness, just whether it is better than the standard they set, which in this case is 1/10th the American workplace standard or the National Ambient Air Quality Standard set by the EPA. We at TreeHugger know how eager the American Government has been to tighten environmental standards over the past few years. Is that good enough?

Johns-Manville uses an acrylic binder and is completely formaldehyde free, as is Guradian insulation.


So clearly one cannot rely on a Greenguard label to pick the greenest insulation, no matter what they call themselves in their marketing. Formaldehyde free is better than low formaldehyde, and a rating system should recognize that, but doesn't.

So look behind the labels to the Material Safety Data Sheets, and if the company does not make them easy to find on their website then choose another manufacturer.

Learn more at ::Building Green

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