Case Studies

GreenCircle Certified LLC

Assuring accountability in today's evolving marketplace

Green certifications can often be vague or misleading, and sometimes fail to meet expectations; however, GreenCircle Certified LLC (GreenCircle) is simplifying the search and assuring greater accountability in the ever-evolving green building market.

The Pennsylvania-based third-party certification company offers trusted transparency and a straightforward guide to green. Through an online database, architects, engineers, builders, suppliers and consumers alike can access a list of thoroughly assessed and verified products or processes that have achieved the GreenCircle certification mark.

“We’ve certified more than 800 products and operations claims thus far,” reveals Annie Bevan, certification and operations manager for GreenCircle. “We got our start in the building products industry, but we’re currently expanding and reaching new markets, including consumer goods and many others.”

Searching for a credible source

GreenCircle, a relatively young company, was established four years ago by Tara and Tad Radzinski. With the growth in green building standards, as well as rising industry and consumer demand for sustainability, a multitude of green certifications emerged inGreenCircle, US Builders Review, GreenCircle Certified the past decade, all with differing levels of clarity, analysis and credibility. Through sustainability consulting firm Sustainable Solutions Corporation, Tad and Tara’s projects relied on sustainable product claims, and many existing certifications were coming up short.

“They were serving as the consultant for the first LEED Platinum single-family home in Pennsylvania,” recounts AshLee Eustace, sales and marketing coordinator for GreenCircle. “After a third-party certified flooring product was installed in more than 70 percent of the home, they found out that the particular color used was not actually certified as previously portrayed and it almost cost the LEED  Platinum certification of the project.”

The Radzinskis ran into the issue again during the GreenCircle office fit-out. “We wanted to use all sustainable materials, from desks with recycled content to repurposed chairs,” shares AshLee. “Tad’s engineering background and decades of experience made him question the integrity of several desktops’ claims of being 100 percent recycled. Following some investigation, it turned out these desktops were not truly 100 percent recycled and were misrepresented by inaccurate third-party documentation. Fed up, they decided that they could create a better system, committed to specificity and integrity in green product claims.”

As the cofounder and certification officer of GreenCircle, Tad developed and implemented the company’s rigorous evaluation process backed by his extensive experience with green building standards, international codes, auditing, sustainability, product manufacturing and waste management. GreenCircle now has 13 internationally recognized certifications, including everything from certified energy savings to closed-loop products, life cycle assessment optimized to recyclable materials, renewable resource content to recycled content, which AshLee says is one of the company’s most requested certifications.

Driving the certification industry

Since its inception, GreenCircle has strived to be a driving force in the third-party certification space, as an integral part in standard development and by pioneering new certifications. Recognizing market trends and ever-changing demands, the organization is continually developing and refining certifications to meet environmental disclosure needs and ensure market integrity, while providing clients with a competitive advantage.

As more and more markets move toward increased levels of transparency, there is a growing need for a method of disclosing total environmental information in a way that can be easily compared. GreenCircle has responded to this need with its Certified Environmental Facts (CEF) multi-attribute certification.

“The market has been calling for a comprehensive form of providing this data since the beginning of the transparency movement,” says Tad. “The goal of a multi-attribute certification is to provide a single, trusted source of environmental data on a product and operations level. This certification details all necessary sustainability information in an easy-to-read, straightforward manner.”

“We like being at the forefront of the industry and evolving to meet market needs,” Annie adds. “We modeled the CEF after a nutrition label so it would be easy for consumers and procurement agents to make well-informed purchases. We also wanted to provide project teams a quick, clear-cut format for all the required information when selecting products to meet green building standards.”

As consumers become more informed, there is greater demand for detailed, readily accessible environmental performance information on product packaging and in marketing literature. This increasing demand for clarity in what’s green and what’s not has presented an opportunity for proactive companies to distinguish their brand by providing precise, accurate information, which has been independently verified.

A benchmark for success and better branding

The benefits of certification are boundless. With a rising demand for honesty and transparency from potential suppliers, GreenCircle’s third-party certification demonstrates that a product or operation is in complete compliance with its sustainability claims. Certifying against internationally recognized standards bolsters brand integrity and builds consumer confidence.

Just ask GreenCircle’s certified customers -“Transparency on the part of product manufacturers is essential to achieving the underlying goals of sustainable construction standards,” says Aaron Smith, director of sustainable building solutions for ASSA ABLOY. “ASSA ABLOY embraces this policy of transparency and is leading the sustainability movement in the door opening industry by verifying the performance data of our products through third-party testing and certification. GreenCircle certification provides value to our brands by assuring our sustainability claims and reinforcing ASSA ABLOY’s position as a market leader.”

For some customers it’s about sharing their story, showcasing their efforts and forward-thinking ideals. “Sustainability at Superior Essex is part of our strategy to provide long-term value,” says Eric Perry, vice president of applications engineering and quality for Superior Essex International LP. “Part of this strategy is increasing the efficiency of our operations to reduce the amount of waste we generate and send to landfills. We believe that it is important to tell this story to our customers and demonstrate how Superior Essex is leading the industry. GreenCircle certification is a powerful tool for communicating our successes and provides a firm backing of our market leadership.”

Certification also offers a benchmark as a means to continuous improvement. “This was our first time working with GreenCircle,” recounts Martin Grohman, executive director of sustainability for GAF. “Their review process was thorough and assisted us in identifying further opportunities for improvement in our waste diversion rates. We believe that third-party validation of environmental claims is a meaningful process that helps ensure accuracy and builds trust among our customers and stakeholders.”

“Customers today are looking for sustainable solutions, adds Kerry Groves, vice president of sales for Aleris Rolled Products Inc. “At Aleris, we’re proud that our GreenCircle certification stands out in the industry and often exceeds our customers’ needs.  Aluminum is extremely environmentally friendly and is one of the most recycled materials on the planet. It is highly ductile, malleable, conductive, resistant to corrosion and has an exceptional strength to weight ratio.  This makes it the metal of choice for many product designers, architects and environmentally concerned citizens. Our GreenCircle certified alloys enable us to provide the highest level of sustainability assurance and quality demanded by our customers.”

Even some of GreenCircle’s first clients are still realizing the far-reaching benefits of certification. “CertainTeed was one of the first manufacturers to receive GreenCircle certification,” reveals Aman W. Desouza, director of innovation and product sustainability for CertainTeed Corporation. “GreenCircle’s mission to provide plant and product specific sustainability validation is aligned with our objective of enabling customers to make sustainable choices, and GreenCircle’s hands-on approach to due diligence has raised the bar for third-party certifications. Having our product claims certified supports our sustainability strategy and has kept us at the top in the many markets we serve.”

GreenCircle is delivering the same results for numerous other companies, spurring in its own growth over the past four years. “We are seeing an exponential increase in the call for transparency, and this is driving continued expansion in our operations,” reveals Annie. “We have many projects coming down the pipeline and numerous new companies to work with. Our mission is to be recognized as the premier third-party certifications provider.”

GreenCircle Certified LLC is certainly well on its way, offering forward-thinking companies a competitive advantage and delivering credible information consumers can count on.

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