Evoke & Indoor Air Quality

NEW: MANY EVOKE PRODUCTS NOW GREENGUARD GOLD CERTIFIED

Many Evoke products now carry GREENGUARD Gold certification, indicating they meet the strictest emissions standards in the world. 

GREENGUARD is a low emissions certification program owned and managed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), one of the largest and most respected product safety organizations in the world. GREENGUARD has two certification levels: GREENGUARD and GREENGUARD Gold.  At this time, all of our GREENGUARD certified products have achieved Gold status.  GREENGUARD Gold certification complies with CA 01350 but under stricter certification requirements than any other emissions program.  It also establishes a very low Total VOC level and sets emissions for specific VOCs at 1/100th of the US Federal Government’s Threshold Limit Value (TLV) for occupational exposure. 

In UL’s words, GREENGUARD Gold certification is “designed to define low-emitting materials suitable for environments where people, particularly children and sensitive adults, spend extended periods of time, in particular schools and healthcare facilities.” 

GREENGUARD Gold certification is also recognized by LEED as a qualifying attribute for low emitting materials credits.

Most Evoke products, having been produced as CA 01350 compliant for years, have now been further tested and certified to the GREENGUARD Gold certification standard.  Product listings on the Evoke website will continue to indicate products as either CA 01350 compliant, or as both CA 01350 compliant and GREENGUARD Gold certified as appropriate.

To check the certification status of any particular product, check the features on the product page. 

The introduction of GREENGUARD Gold certification as the ‘house standard’ for emissions confirms Evoke’s commitment to providing our customers with products that meet the strictest air quality standards in the world.  For more information on the GREENGUARD program, please scroll down. 

For more on Evoke’s indoor air quality program, please read on.

Evoke & Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a hot topic these days. Consumers and manufacturers are more aware of IAQ and governments are creating new regulations aimed at improving IAQ in homes and workplaces.

Informed consumers – especially those living in California - may be familiar with the term CARB; CARB refers to a California state agency tasked with improving air quality throughout the state. It has many different programs and areas of focus but one in particular is aimed at limiting formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products – which includes laminate flooring. For years, Evoke’s laminate flooring has been produced as “CARB P2 Compliant.”

A new term has recently appeared on the IAQ landscape: TSCA Title VI, or simply TSCA.

TSCA stands for Toxic Substances Control Act and is overseen by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Act was originally signed into law in 1976 and has since been amended several times. The various sections of the law are commonly referred to as ‘titles’. The latest amendment is TSCA Title VI, and it sets limits on the allowable level of formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products such as medium density fiberboard (MDF*) and plywood – just like CARB.

In other words, TSCA Title VI is essentially CARB’s formaldehyde emissions law applied nationwide in the United States.

While CARB and TSCA are both legal requirements, there is another voluntary air quality standard: CA 01350. It is a stricter and more comprehensive IAQ standard than CARB or TSCA, and it is the one to which all Evoke products – laminates and vinyl - are tested.

The video below provides a basic overview of air quality, formaldehyde, CARB and CA 01350 as it relates to our laminate flooring. (It predates TSCA Title VI, but will be updated shortly. For now, where you see “CARB,” think “TSCA” as within this overview, they are generally interchangeable.) For more information on Evoke’s IAQ program, continue below the video.



What’s the IAQ Story On Luxury Vinyl And Vinyl Composite Core Products?

Vinyl flooring products are not regulated under CARB and TSCA, as they contain no composite wood products.  But all Evoke Luxury Vinyl and Vinyl Composite Core products are CA Section 01350 Compliant.  This means that – like Evoke Laminates – they have been tested against the strictest air quality standards in the world.

How is CA Section 01350 different from CARB & TSCA?

CARB and TSCA are both legal requirements, and we invest a lot of resources into ensuring compliance.  We employ a full time Environmental Compliance Officer to monitor our QC program and triple check our QC procedures.  That includes random testing of the core material by Benchmark International, an independent US-based leader in emissions testing.  So when we put a CARB or TSCA Compliant label on a product, we know it’s the real thing.

CA Section 01350 is a voluntary air quality standard.  It is a stricter and more comprehensive IAQ standard than CARB or TSCA, and it is the one to which all Evoke products are tested.  CA Section 01350 tests the whole product that goes into your home, not just the core.  In addition, it:

  • looks for the presence of thousands of different VOCs, not just formaldehyde 
  • tests the complete, finished product, not just one component. 
  • can be applied to laminate, hardwood and LV products, even finishes and glues
  • is much stricter: CA Section 01350 allows less than half the level of formaldehyde emissions permitted by CARB

For all these reasons, CA Section 01350 is generally thought to be a better indicator of indoor air quality than CARB.  CA Section 01350 is recognized by LEED and other green building programs as the standard for good indoor air quality. In addition, compliance with CA Section 01350 meets:

  • Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) Reference Specifications for Energy and Resource Efficiency, CA Section 01350 Special Environmental Requirements.
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims.
  • ISO 14024 Environmental Labels and Declarations: Environmental Labeling Type I, Guiding Principles and Procedures.
  • ISO 14021 Environmental Labels and Declarations: Environmental Claims, Terms and Definitions
    (Type II).

Evoke’s strict IAQ testing regime is just one aspect of our environmentally-focused product quality program. 

For a copy of this information in pdf format, click here.

(Technical note: most laminate manufacturers – us included – often say their products are made with HDF (High Density Fiberboard) rather than MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) that we refer to here.  MDF is a technical and legal label that covers a broad category of fiberboard products and is therefore the term used by regulators to cover the entire category.  HDF is a term used by the industry to describe a type of MDF with specific weight and strength properties designed for specific applications - like laminate flooring cores.  In CARB/TSCA terms, it’s all classed under MDF, so that’s how we refer to it in IAQ language, even if our marketing department will usually follow industry custom and call it HDF.)

ABOUT GREENGUARD

Indoor air quality began to gain attention as a health issue in the late 1970s, when office workers began complaining of ailments which were traced to their exposure to chemicals in the air inside their workplaces, giving rise to the phenomenon of ‘sick building syndrome’.  Increased building insulation, tighter building envelopes, and other energy efficiency measures often led to environments where the VOCs emitted by furniture, floor coverings and other manufactured materials led to noticeably poor indoor air quality. 

Both manufacturers and regulators responded to the concern.  Companies began to focus on controlling emissions from glues, finishes, fabric treatments, paints and other building products.  In the late 1980s, the US introduced regulations limiting formaldehyde levels in workplaces and a few years later, the first emissions-based purchasing specifications began to appear: government procurement programs specified materials that met specific emissions targets. 

One of the first companies to work with the government on this program was an independent outfit called Air Quality Sciences (AQS).  It was founded in 1989 by Dr. Marilyn Black to research indoor air quality and how to improve it. 

In 1992, AQS partnered with the Carpet and Rug Institute to create the Green Label program, which focused on emissions from carpeting.  

In 2001, the company introduced the GREENGUARD program, which was directed towards contract furniture and building products. 

In 2011, AQS and the GREENGUARD program were acquired by Underwriters Laboratories, a company known throughout North America by its acronymic logo: UL.

UL’s stated mission is ‘working for a safer world’ and the organization traces its roots to the 1938 World’s Fair in Chicago, when it was tasked with ensuring that the new-fangled electrical lighting being used at the event was safe to be used in a public setting (compared to the open flames of gas-light and candles of the time).  UL has gone on to become the defacto standard for consumer product safety in the US and its mark appears on thousands of consumer products (CSA is the equivalent in Canada). A recent study by Samsung found that the average American home contained over 800 products with UL marks. 

Under UL’s ownership, the GREENGUARD program has expanded and is becoming recognized as the highest standard for Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) ratings.  The UL protocol looks at VOCs from three perspectives. 

First, it considers emissions of a number of specific VOCs and compares them to established health-based exposure thresholds. 

Second, it looks at the total amount of VOCs (TVOC) emitted.

Third, it compares the emission profile against the familiar CA 01350 standard.

Under UL’s testing protocol, products may achieve a rating of either GREENGUARD or GREENGUARD Gold certification.  Meeting GREENGUARD certification levels, means among other things that the emissions must be 1/10th the federal “Threshold Limit Values (TLV).”  The “Gold standard” is much stricter, with emissions at just 1/100th of the established TLV, as well as allowing less than half the TVOCs permitted in the regular standard and requiring full compliance with CA 01350.

For more information on the GREENGUARD program, please visit ul.com/gg