NSF International Launces New American National Standard for Resilient Flooring - NSF 332
Standard provides means to evaluate the sustainability of floor coverings
ANN ARBOR, Michigan – NSF International, an independent, not-for-profit standards developer, has developed a new Sustainability Standard for resilient floor coverings. As products with sustainability claims continue to enter the market, certification of these products to national standards allows specifiers and purchasers to make better decisions when selecting products such as floor coverings.
The new NSF American National Standard 332: Sustainability Assessment Standard for Resilient Floor Coverings has been finalized under the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and can now be used to certify the sustainability attributes of resilient flooring. The standard provides a means for designers, architects, facility managers and purchasers to evaluate the sustainability of a range of products. These include: vinyl composition tile, sheet vinyl flooring, vinyl tile, rubber sheet flooring, rubber tile, linoleum sheet flooring, linoleum tile, polymeric flooring, resilient wall base and resilient stair treads.
Certification by a third-party, independent certifier enables manufacturers of flooring products to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. NSF/ANSI 332 uses a point-based system in which manufacturers achieve one of four levels of certification: conformant, silver, gold and platinum – with conformant status meeting entry level criteria and platinum adhering to the most strenuous requirements.The Sustainability Assessment for Resilient Floor Coverings Standard has been designed, in part, to satisfy the following criteria:
- Product design through encouraging manufacturers to integrate environmental and life-cycle thinking into the product(s) design process.
- Product manufacturing encouraging manufacturers to quantify the environmental impacts from their manufacturing, and then act to reduce or remove those impacts.
- Long term value encouraging manufacturers to maximize product(s) longevity.
- End of life management ensuring that existing and new resilient flooring products can be collected, processed, recycled, and/or composted within the existing materials recycling infrastructure.
- Corporate governance encouraging corporate social responsibility in the forms of providing a desirable workplace, being involved in the local community, and demonstrating financial health.
- Innovation to give manufacturers the opportunity to be awarded points for exceptional performance above the requirements set forth in this Standard.
NSF/ANSI 332 will promote the greater use of sustainability practices in the manufacture of resilient flooring while also bringing more transparency and clarity to the sustainability process. This new standard represents the next generation of product sustainability assessment standards. It builds upon the work done by the carpet and furniture industries to develop ANSI standards for sustainable products. The multi-stakeholder development of the standard means it encompasses a broad set of interests and balances the need for robust performance with manufacturer capabilities. The widespread adoption of the standard by manufacturers and the marketplace will help the resilient flooring industry in its drive towards more sustainable products.
Certification to NSF/ANSI 332 offers buyers of resilient flooring the highest level of confidence and credibility in a market that is awash in green claims. The goal of this standard is to improve the sustainability profile of resilient floor coverings and enable the industry to achieve higher levels of sustainable manufacturing in the future.
Background on the Development of NSF/ANSI Standard 332
NSF International is a non-profit, non-governmental organization accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). NSF has helped develop many sustainable building products standards including NSF/ANSI 140, the sustainable carpet standard. NSF led the development process of NSF/ANSI 332 for sustainable resilient flooring, bringing together flooring manufacturers, architects, academics, environmental program managers, state and federal agencies responsible for procurement practices, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The consensus process used to develop the standard was built upon scientific principles including the ISO 14000 series standards on Life Cycle Assessment and feedback. It was then opened for public comment and voting for a period of two years before being approved this spring.
About NSF International: NSF International, an independent, not-for-profit organization, certifies products and writes standards for food, water and consumer goods to minimize adverse health effects and protect the environment (www.nsf.org). Founded in 1944, NSF is committed to protecting human health and safety worldwide and operates in more than 120 countries. NSF is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Food and Water Safety and Indoor Environment.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is resilient flooring and where is it used?
Resilient flooring refers to flooring materials that have a relatively firm surface yet characteristically have “give and take” when walked on. These include many kinds of vinyl floors - vinyl sheet flooring, vinyl composition tile, and luxury vinyl tiles and planks – as well as linoleum, rubber, cork and wall base products. They are used in many commercial applications for their durability, design flexibility and environmental attributes.
What is the new standard?
The NSF/ANSI 332 Sustainability Assessment Standard for Resilient Floor Coverings provides a means to evaluate the sustainability profile of resilient floor coverings. The purpose of this standard is a thorough communication of information that is verifiable, accurate, and not misleading about environmental and social aspects associated with the production and use of resilient floor coverings.
NSF/ANSI 332 will help advance the greater use of sustainability practices in the manufacture of resilient flooring and bring more transparency and clarity to the environmental and social process of resilient flooring manufacturers.
Why do we need it?
As products with “green” claims continue to enter the market, certification of these products to national standards allows specifiers and purchasers to make better decisions when selecting products such as floor coverings.
Certification by a third-party, independent certifier enables manufacturers of flooring products to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability.
The standard provides a way for end users, designers, architects, facility managers and purchasers to evaluate the sustainability of a range of products. Third-party certification offers specifiers the highest level of confidence and credibility in a market awash in green claims.
The goal is to make it easier to evaluate the true sustainability profile of resilient floor coverings, and to enable the industry to achieve higher levels of sustainable manufacturing over time.
How does it differ from other certifications?
Multi-attribute standards are responsive to market requests for a more comprehensive approach for determining environmentally preferable products just as single attribute certification programs responded to market demands for gauging issues such as indoor air quality. Single attribute programs serve a purpose but more comprehensive standards such as NSF 332 are highly indicative of environmentally preferable products (EPP). Many government agencies have mandated EPP programs. Standards such as NSF/ANSI 332 will provide specifiers in the private sector, and government and non-governmental agencies a way to execute against the Environmentally Preferable Product (EPP) requirements.
How does it work?
NSF/ANSI 332 uses a point-based system in which manufacturers achieve one of four levels of certification: conformant, silver, gold or platinum – with conformant status meeting entry level criteria and platinum adhering to the most strenuous requirements.
Products are evaluated against the standard using five key criteria: 1) product design, 2) product manufacturing, 3) long-term value, 4) end of life management, 5) corporate governance and 6) innovation.
How was it developed?
NSF International led the development process. It was a consensus-based process that included architects, academia, environmental program managers, the U.S. EPA, state and federal agencies responsible for procurement practices, and flooring manufacturers. The standard is built upon scientific principles including the ISO 14000 series standards on Life Cycle Assessment. It took over three years to complete the process that included a two-year public comment and voting period. NSF 332 was first released as a draft standard and received final approval this spring.
Who worked on it?
The committee included NSF and RFCI as well as flooring manufacturers, architects, academia, environmental program managers, and the U.S. EPA state and federal agencies responsible for procurement practices.
NSF International is a non-profit, non-governmental organization accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). NSF has helped develop many sustainable building products standards including the NSF/ANSI 140 Sustainability Assessment Standard for Carpet that has been in use since 2007.
The Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) is a nonprofit industry trade association representing the major manufacturers of resilient flooring marketed throughout North America. RFCI also works with Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) to administer FloorScore®, which certifies hard-surface flooring that complies with the VOC emissions criteria of California Section 01350. Hundreds of hard-surface flooring materials and adhesives bear the FloorScore® seal.
What products have been certified against this standard?
This is on on-going process, and the best way is to visit RFCI Member websites and look for their reference to the standard or call their customer service departments for an update.