To encourage the use of sustainable materials and reduce the environmental impact caused by the manufacturing of floor coverings, carpets, and rugs, two members of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) have led the publication of a new standard, NSF/ANSI 140-2007, Sustainable Carpet Assessment.

The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) and NSF International, an ANSI accredited standards developer, have designed a certification system for sustainable carpeting. End users, architects, government officials, academics and manufacturers contributed to the new standard. It measures the environmental footprint of carpet products in five major performance categories:

• public health and environment
• energy and energy efficiency
• bio-based, recycled-content materials, or environmentally preferable materials
• manufacturing
• reclamation and end-of-life management.

The standard applies to carpets for all types of buildings, including commercial office, education, government, health care and hospitality.
NSF/ANSI 140-2007 follows an evaluation methodology that is complementary to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating systems for high-performance green buildings.

Similar to the LEED system, the standard specifies three certification levels — silver, gold, and platinum — that are awarded on a points-earned basis to manufacturers. Products earn points by:

• minimizing the use of pollutants
• using renewable energy and implementing energy-conservation measures
• using bio-based materials, renewable agricultural materials, or recycled materials
• minimizing the generation of waste materials during production
• adhering to the Memorandum of Understanding for Carpet Stewardship, which states that by 2012, at least 40 percent of the total amount of carpet produced will be diverted from landfills.

The first carpet products to be certified by the new standard are expected to be available in April.