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1511 Wisconsin Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20007

Telephone 202-338-3131

Fax 202-338-2800

Email MTS@sustainableproducts.com

Web http://MTS.sustainableproducts.com MTS@sustainableproducts.com 202-338-2800


Let us create a standard to which the wise and honest can repair. George Washington
SMART© 2.0 Flooring Standard

promoting sustainable/EPP flooring achievement

Approved 4-8-06


1. Purpose & Goals 2

2. Scope 2

3. References & Tools 3

4. Definitions 3

5. General Requirements 8

5.1 Consistent with Achievement Matrix in Section 6, Sustainable

Flooring Must be Evaluated Over the Supply Chain for Multiple

Environmental Benefits/Impacts 8

5.2 Product Labeling & Marking 8

5.3 Use of Sustainable Agricultural Materials 8

5.4 Certification of Product Platforms Allowed 9

6. Levels of Required Attributes Achieving Sustainable/EPP Flooring

Performance in the Matrix 9

6.1 Safe for Public Health & Environment 9

6.2 Renewable Energy & Energy Reduction 17

    1. Biobased & Recycled Materials 19

    2. Facility & Company Based Achievements & Social Indicators 22

6.5 Reclamation, Sustainable Reuse & End of Life Management 24

6.6 Innovation 27

6.7 Sustainable/EPP Flooring Supply Chain Achievement Matrix 28

7. Certification of Compliance With Standard 29

Figure 1 The General Product Life Cycle 14

Appendix A (Informative) Guidance on the Use of Sustainable/EPP Flooring

Standard 32


The purpose of the sustainable/environmentally preferable (EPP) flooring standard is to provide a market-based definition for Sustainable Flooring, establish performance requirements for public health and environment, and address the triple bottom line, economic-environmental-social, throughout the supply chain.
The goals of this Sustainable/EPP Flooring Standard are to:

  1. Increase the economic value of sustainable flooring throughout the supply chain by enhancing market demand for sustainable flooring products.

  2. Provide information that enables specifiers to sort out the complex information on sustainable attributes.

  3. Identify other consensus based standards and Sustainable Flooring.

  4. Educate and instruct all stakeholders in the flooring supply chain.

  5. Encourage competition between manufacturers and their suppliers to seek out or develop environmentally preferable processes, practices, power sources, and materials

This Standard is intended to help raw material suppliers, converters, manufacturers and end-users. Adherence to this Standard and achievement of high levels of sustainable attribute performance can or should result in:

  • Cost savings

  • Design innovation

  • Product differentiation

  • Long term customer relationships

  • Liability reduction

  • Ecological restoration


The scope of the Standard enables organizations throughout the flooring supply chain to apply performance requirements to achieve sustainable attributes and certify compliance with levels of achievement through quantifiable metrics. The Standard is inclusive, is based on life cycle assessment (LCA) principles, and provides benchmarks for continuous improvement and innovation. Flooring is defined in section 4.26. This Standard does not cover carpet.
Certification to this Sustainable Flooring Standard is intended to allow inclusive participation and encourage the progressive movement of the flooring industry toward sustainability. This Standard identifies six levels of sustainable attribute performance and four levels of achievement by which flooring materials and products can be measured with respect to specific attributes that indicate progress toward sustainability.
This Standard is voluntary yet emphasizes disclosure of information on both impacts and benefits of a flooring or flooring product from an environmental and sustainability perspective.
All products or processes can be referenced under this Standard if they are able to achieve all prerequisites and score the minimum required for certification as specified in section 6.
This Standard does not apply to packaging of sustainable flooring.
This Standard incorporates procedures and protocols established in the following sustainability standards, thereby eliminating both redundancies and potential inconsistencies:

  • Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Social Indicators http://www.globalreporting.org/GRIGuidelines/index.htm

  • Stockholm Toxic Chemicals List http://www.chem.unep.ch/publications.htm

  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) ISO General Principles Standard http://www.iso.ch/iso/en/CatalogueDetailPage.CatalogueDetail?CSNUMBER=23151

  • General Product Life Cycle Diagram (Figure 1, p. 15)

  • Federal Trade Commission Environmental Marketing Guides http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/buspubs/greenguides.htm

  • US Green Building Council LEED Rating System http://www.usgbc.org/LEED/existing/leed_existing.asp

  • FSC Certified Wood Practices http://www.certifiedwood.org/

  • Green-e Power http://www.resource-solutions.org/Green-epage.htm

Additional information on use of this Sustainable/EPP Flooring Standard is provided in the Appendix. A separate Guidance Document for Implementation will be published to provide details on the intent for each element in the matrix, examples and how to go about documenting for certification.

4.1 Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Soil Erosion & Runoff Control: These practices improve soil productivity and prevent water pollution that adversely affects biota including spawning grounds. They provide a basis for measuring the environmental impact of corn production for extraction of polylactic acid (PLA) that could be used in flooring. Use of PLA fiber is recognized in this Standard. Some flooring products are biobased and thus developed from agricultural products.
BMPs provide benefits at the raw materials extraction stage. These practices developed by EPA, Purdue University, and Conservation Technology Information Center, can be viewed at http://www.epa.gov/watertrain/agmodule/ with detailed descriptions, manuals, and photos of practices. They allow for local variables, e.g. weather, pests, soil, & type of farm, and are summarized and slightly modified as follows:
Conservation Tillage - leaving crop residue (plant materials from past harvests) on the soil surface reduces runoff and soil erosion, conserves soil moisture, helps keep nutrients and pesticides on the field, and improves soil, water, and air quality;
Crop Nutrient Management for Organic fields - fully managing and accounting for all nutrient inputs helps ensure nutrients are available to meet crop needs while reducing nutrient movements off fields. It also helps prevent excessive buildup in soils and helps protect air quality;
Pest Management - varied organic methods for keeping insects, weeds, disease, and other pests below economically harmful levels while protecting soil, water, and air quality;
Conservation Buffers - an additional barrier of protection by capturing potential pollutants that might otherwise move into surface waters. Examples are grassed waterways and riparian conservation areas.
Irrigation Water Management - reducing nonpoint source pollution of ground and surface waters caused by irrigation systems;
Grazing Management where manure is used for fertilizer - minimizing the water quality impacts of grazing and browsing activities on pasture and range lands;
Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs) Management where manure is used as fertilizer - minimizing impacts of animal feeding operations and waste discharges through runoff controls, waste storage, waste utilization, and nutrient management;

Erosion and Sediment Control - conserving soil and reducing the mass of sediment reaching a water body, protecting both agricultural land, water quality, and habitat.
Biobased: In contrast to the petroleum-based model which relies on materials photosynthesized millions of years ago, biobased manufacturing processes use photosynthesis that occurred in the past decade. Biobased processes use naturally occurring enzymes or organisms. Biobased manufacturing processes generate by-products that are not hazardous, can be reused and are disposed of through biodegradable methods. In the context of this Standard, biobased materials must be sustainably produced resulting in multiple attributes listed in Appendix A, A.2.
4.2 Biodegradable: "Reliable scientific evidence that the entire product or package will completely break down and return to nature, i.e., decompose into elements found in nature within a reasonably short period of time after customary disposal (16 C.F.R. § 260.7 (b))."
4.3 Closed Loop Process: Materials reclaimed and returned in a process that are neither classified as, defined as, nor operate as, a waste, i.e., any discarded material. Materials in a closed loop process are treated as commodities in a manner designed to avoid loss or release to the environment (See generally, 40 C.F.R. § 261.4(a)(8)).
4.4 Compostable: “Competent and reliable scientific evidence that all materials in the product or package will break down into, or otherwise become part of, usable compost (e.g., soil conditioning material, mulch) in a safe and timely manner in an appropriate composting program or facility, or in a home compost pile or device (16 C.F.R § 260.7 (c)).”
4.5 Continual Improvement: Continual improvement is a process used in total quality management, in which a company through its routine course of business, continually improves its products and processes.

    1. Design for the Environment (DfE): Through life-cycle assessment, DfE considers all environmental implications or stages of a product: energy and materials used, its manufacture and packaging, transportation, consumer use, reuse or recycling, and disposal. All effects a product may have on the environment are examined during its design phase. All life cycle stages are analyzed including a full assessment of all inputs to the product, the company’s operations related to the product, how the product is used, and final product disposition whether reused, taken back, or disposed of (State of Minnesota DfE Toolkit www.moea.state.mn.us/p2/dfe.cfm).

4.7 De Minimis: Concentrations of Media pollutants less than 1% and Toxic Chemicals less than 0.1% are considered De Minimis.
4.8 Life Cycle: Consecutive and interlinked stages of a product system, from raw material acquisition to final disposition or reuse.
4.9 Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): compilation and evaluation of the inputs, outputs and the potential environmental impacts of a product system throughout its life cycle. See Figure 1, p. 15.
4.10 Life Cycle Design: An approach for designing more ecologically and economically sustainable product systems, integrating environmental requirements into the earliest stages of design. In life cycle design, environmental, performance, cost, cultural and legal requirements are balanced. (EPA Introduction to Environmental Accounting June 1995).
4.11 Life Cycle Impact Assessment: phase of life cycle assessment aimed at understanding and evaluating the magnitude and significance of the potential environmental impacts of a product system at all product stages.
4.12 Metric: a standard of measurement.
4.13 Pollution Prevention: Changing existing or planned operations so that waste generation is prevented or the volume and/or toxicity of wastes are minimized Pollution Prevention (P2) is the reduction or elimination of pollution at the source (source reduction) instead of at the end-of-the-pipe or stack. P2 occurs when raw materials, water, energy and other resources are utilized more efficiently, when less harmful substances are substituted for hazardous ones, and when toxic substances are eliminated from the production process.
4.14 Precautionary Principle: Where threats of serious or irreversible harm to people or nature exist, anticipatory action will be taken to prevent damages to human and environmental health, even when full scientific certainty about cause and effect is not available, with the intent of safeguarding the quality of life for current and future generations.
4.15 Primary Conversion Process: A process that refines or converts a raw fossil fuel or biomass into a material used by traditional manufacturing processes.
4.16 Reclamation: manufacturers and distributors take financial and/or physical and/or contractual responsibility for their products or for another’s product, throughout the entire product lifecycle, including collection disassembly and reuse and/or recycling of the flooring to the highest degree practicable. This includes reusing the products and components for extended product life. See Computer TakeBack Campaign Platform (Elec. Take it Back Campaign Mar. 2001).
4.17 Recycled Content: The amount of material by weight "collected, separated or otherwise recovered from a waste stream for use in the form of raw materials, in the manufacture or assembly of a new package or product (16 C.F.R. § 260.7 (d))" See background in Appendix A.3. Coal fly ash used as filler or binding agent qualifies as post industrial content only, as do all other post industrial content fillers & binders.

Post Consumer - A material or finished product that has served its intended use and has been diverted or recovered from waste destined for disposal.

Post Industrial/Preconsumer – Materials generated by manufacturers or product converters, such as trimming, overruns, and obsolete products, that are incorporated back into the manufacturing process of the same or a different product. Manufacturer’s scrap that would have, in any case, been incorporated into the product does not qualify as recycled under the Federal Trade Commission Guides. See 16 C.F.R. 260.7(e). See Appendix A3.
4.18 Recycling: “Recycling is a series of activities that includes collecting materials that would otherwise be considered waste, sorting and processing recyclables into raw materials, and manufacturing raw materials into new products” (http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/muncpl/recycle.htm).

4.19 Renewable Energy includes: solar electric (photovoltaic), solar thermal, wind, geothermal, biogas, biomass, hydro and renewable cogeneration on site or off site, on or off grid. Off-site renewable energy can either be displaced which is renewable energy meeting Green-e requirements generated by the same owner on a different site, or Green-e power that is purchased on the open market from sources that are certified through the Green-e Renewable Electricity Certification Program. Contracts for purchase of Green-e electricity should be for a minimum of 2 years.
The non-profit organization Center for Resource Solutions established the Green-e Renewable Electricity Certification Program to encourage consumer confidence in buying "green" electricity. Green-e is the nation's first voluntary certification and verification program for "green" electricity products. The criteria require that at least 50% of the supply is generated from the sun, water, wind, burning of wastes (biomass) or geothermal heat from the earth. In addition, in the use of any traditional fuel, emissions of sulfur dioxide (which causes acid rain), nitrogen oxide (which causes smog) and carbon dioxide (which causes climate change) must be lower than average. The companies that receive the Green-e designation must agree to an annual audit to ensure they have purchased a satisfactory amount of "renewable" power:  http://www.green-e.org. The Green-e Standard is at http://www.green-e.org/ipp/standard_for_marketers.html.
4.20 Reuse: “Use a product more than once, either for the same purpose or for a different purpose. Reusing, where possible, is preferable to recycling because the item does not need to be reprocessed before it can be used again” (http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/muncpl/reduce.htm#reuse).
4.21 Reusable: Reusable means the potential of a product for reuse as defined in 4.17, and that facilities exist to make such reuse economically feasible.
4.22 Supply Chain: the all inclusive set of links from raw materials to customer, including extraction, transportation, fuels, manufacturing, and use, i.e., the network of retailers, distributors, transporters, storage facilities and suppliers that participate in the sale, delivery and production of a particular product (Investorwords.com 2003).
4.23 Sustainable Agriculture: (Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990) “Means an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having site-specific application that will, over the long term:

  • satisfy human food and fiber needs

  • enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends

  • make efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls

  • sustain the economic vitality of farm operations

  • enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole

Sustainable agriculture protects native vegetation, habitat & forests, and where forest harvesting arises in the flooring supply chain, use FSC Certified Wood practices.

4.24 Sustainable Reuse:  Reuse is sustainable when it includes social supply chain considerations specified in the table 2 in MFG 1-2 , and the product is EITHER:

  • reused indefinitely, maintaining performance and quality characteristics and environmental integrity without harmful releases to health or environment, as part of a closed loop program in which only chemically contaminated used product is disposed of, OR

  • reused, and then returned safely to natural systems without any adverse effects to public health and environment. .

4.25 Sustainable Flooring: Sustainable Flooring meets or exceeds the environmental, social, & economic performance requirements set forth in this Standard’s “Supply Chain Achievement Matrix” in section 6. These products and their related systems have the following attributes:

  • All materials and process inputs and outputs are safe for human and ecological health in all phases of the product life cycle

  • All energy, material and process inputs come from renewable or recycled sources

  • All materials are capable of returning safely to either natural systems or industrial systems

  • All stages in the product life cycle actively support the reuse or recycling of these materials at the highest possible level of quality

  • All product life cycle stages enhance social well being

4.26 Flooring: All flooring and components including resilient, wood, tile, laminant, etc. Carpet is not covered by this Standard, but is covered by the Sustainable Carpet Assessment Standard.
In order to achieve a sustainable/EPP achievement rating, a flooring product must provide environmental, economic, and social benefits while protecting and enhancing the needs of future generations, public health, welfare and environment over its full commercial cycle, from raw materials extraction to final disposition. Sustainable/EPP Flooring must also provide the equivalent in performance and quality to other flooring.
Sustainable/EPP Flooring may be petrochemical-based or biobased but must demonstrate throughout its supply chain, multiple attributes that protect public health and environment and foster healthy and prosperous conditions for human and ecological systems. Claims made on all sustainable/EPP attributes must be certified pursuant to section 7 with publicly reviewable documentation.
5.1 Consistent with the Achievement Matrix in Section 6, Sustainable/EPP Flooring Must be Evaluated Over the Supply Chain for Multiple Environmental Benefits/Impacts. LCA is one recognized tool to do this. LCA must be used for communications using the word “sustainable,” or “environmentally preferable” as part of the competent scientific evidence requirement pursuant to Federal Trade Commission (FTC), EPA, & Attorneys Generals’ product marketing requirements (See 16 C.F.R. § 260.7(a). LCA is used to identify environmental benefits and areas for improvement in the supply chain for all environmental media (air, water & land), including local environmental issues in the production of agricultural biobased products. See Figure 1. EPA Final Environmentally Preferable Product Guidance sets forth as a “Guiding Principle: Life Cycle Perspective/Multiple Attributes- A product or service's environmental preferability is a function of multiple attributes from a life cycle perspective (2002).” Also relevant is the ISO General Principles LCA Standard 14040.
5.2 Product Labeling & Marking: Manufacturers warranting or certifying compliance with this Standard pursuant to section 7, may mark or label their sustainable/EPP flooring achievement on their product and literature consistent with the appropriate level in the Achievement Matrix.

    1. Use of Sustainably Produced Biobased Materials in Flooring. Sustainably/EPP grown agricultural materials used in flooring must demonstrate sustainable/EPP performance attributes throughout their supply chain and production system.  Producers should be able to account for and report on these attributes. Sustainable/EPP flooring product manufacturers using agricultural raw materials should be able to demonstrate sustainable/EPP performance attributes resulting from the use of sustainable/EPP agriculturally grown raw materials.

5.4 Certification of Product Platforms Allowed: Products can be certified by platforms, i.e., groupings of individual products or product lines with a high degree of uniformity of environmental attributes.

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