We have previously noted the six sins of greenwashing; Joel Bittle over at Green Building Elements does a terrific job in coming up with the seven sins of greenwashing in the building business. Most are relevant to designers working with LEED, but many are useful to anyone looking at materials for home or office. Read the original post for greater detail, here is a summary:
1. Make sure your product satisfies at least one green building requirement. If your product isn't green, you're not going to fool anyone
2. Do not claim credits that do not apply to your product or to the current building project.
3. If you are not unique, don't try to sell yourself as unique. All stainless steel contains recycled material, so don't try to sell yourself as the only purveyor of recycled stainless steel.
4. Don't claim that yours is a local product if it's not harvested/extracted or processed locally.This one I will repeat in full, because it is really the most misunderstood one:
5. No product is a LEED certified product. Or LEED qualified. Or official LEED product. Products are not LEED certified, projects are. So even though you are 100% sure that your product satisfies a LEED requirement, it is still up to the project auditor to determine if it actually does. Use language like "Bob's Widgets may contribute to LEED credit 2.7 " I'm not sure of the USGBC's official stance on this, but you might want to replace "may contribute" in that sentence with "have contributed" after your product has actually been used in a LEED project.
6. Your manufacturing practices do not affect LEED credits. While it is perfectly appropriate in your literature to highlight that you use a zero-waste, VOC free, daylit manufacturing facility, only the final product matters when it comes to LEED credits.
7. Don't sell yourself short. After all these warnings, don't be hesitant to proclaim your green-ness. Green builders are interested in every kind of green product out there.
Read the whole thing at ::Green Building Elements
More on Architectural Greenwashing in TreeHugger:
Best of 2007: Greenwashers of the Year
Greenwash Watch: Has Green Advertising Nuked the Fridge?
How To Spot Greenwashing
Greenwash Watch: Builders Write Their Own Green Building Standard
Greenwash Watch: HDPE Chairs
Greenwash Watch: Greenwashing Your Countertop: LG Eden
And our alltime most egregious greenwash marketing favorites ever:
Greenwash Watch: Fur is Green