GreenFormat is a web-based CSI format that allows manufacturers to accurately report the sustainability properties of their products. It provides designers, constructors and building operators with basic information to help meet ‘green’ requirements.
Manufacturers report the attributes of their products through a comprehensive, online questionnaire. Their entries are then displayed through www.greenformat.com, where designers, constructors and building operators can search for products that fit their projects.
GreenFormat’s questionnaire for manufacturers references specific industry standards wherever possible, and allows individual manufacturers to report additional information at the end of each entry. Sustainability claims are verified by relating questions to standards and certifications, which benefits both manufacturers and designers. For manufacturers, the direct link between question and verification delivers a clearer understanding of the intent of the questions. For designers, having that substantiation and verification means less concern about “green-washing” or misleading information.
GreenFormat Category Summary
- 1. Background Information
- 2. Product Details
- 3. Product Lifecycle
- 4. Additional Information
- 5. Authorization
1. Background Information
These fields are general, used to categorize information by
MasterFormat number(s), manufacturer's name, product
name or trade name (with a manufacturer's brief description of the product), and date the information is
provided. This is manufacturer-friendly, and allows manufacturers the flexibility to describe either standard
products and product lines or unique one-of-a-kind products. Users can search this information by
MasterFormat number, by manufacturer name, by trade name,
or by a keyword search.
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2. Product Details
This category addresses three of the four methods of specifying - reference standard specification, performance specification, and descriptive specification. The fourth method of specifying, the proprietary method, would use the information presented in Category 1.
Sustainable Standards and Certifications relates to the information that a specifier would include in the Quality Assurance article of a specification, and it provides verification of environmental claims. This acknowledges the importance of the Quality Assurance article in CSI's SectionFormat document, and is necessary if the specifier is writing a reference standard specification. The information provided in this category allows the specifier to search for a product based on its meeting a sustainable standard. This category includes 1st party self-declarations of compliance with requirements of various regulatory agencies and other standards.
Sustainable Performance Criteria relates to the product's sustainable performance during use, and is of primary interest when writing a performance specification or when a product's performance is being evaluated or compared to other products.
Sustainable Composition of Product relates to what the product is made from, as well as material off-gassing. This
is descriptive information and would be used when writing a descriptive specification, or when researching the
composition of a product.
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3. Product Lifecycle
This category describes the phases of a construction material's life cycle, which a design professional may evaluate when selecting a sustainable product. It is not an attempt to collect all the information necessary to perform a life cycle analysis of a product, but only to identify sustainability questions that relate to each phase of a product's entire life. It is also noted in this category whether a product has gone through a comprehensive LCA. A manufacturer that has conducted a full LCA may choose to simply refer to the LCA for some of the remaining questions in the category. In the absence of an LCA, life cycle thinking can aid in expanding the scope of analysis, therefore questions are asked regarding the materials and impacts related to each phase of the product life cycle, and are applicable even if a full LCA has not been completed. These are generally recognized categories used by the sustainability community and are categorized and named, as closely as possible, using the names and construction phases in CSI's Project Resource Manual (PRM).
Life Cycle Analysis estimates the cumulative environmental impacts resulting from all stages of a product life cycle, including raw material extraction, manufacture, use and end-of-life. The full life cycle is often called “cradle-to-grave.” A product may have gone through a comprehensive Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) or have developed an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for comprehensive reporting on LCA and other sustainability information. An LCA can help a decision-maker select the product that has the lowest total environmental impact versus selecting one that has solely reduced impacts at one phase of the life cycle, or made trade-offs that result in higher impacts in another phase.
Material Extraction and Transportation relates to the embodied energy within the raw materials that make up a product and the greenhouse gasses emitted into the environment as a result of material extraction and transportation to the manufacturing plant. This category will undoubtedly evolve in future years as more detailed information on greenhouse gas emissions becomes available. A comprehensive LCA is recommended to fully capture comprehensive "cradle-to-gate" information.
Manufacturing relates to the impacts occurring while transforming raw materials and components into a finished product. This includes manufacturing facilities and processes and their effect on the environment. Questions relate to manufacturers' verifiable commitment to sustainability, actions they have taken, energy and water use in manufacturing, greenhouse gasses emitted, and byproducts produced as a result of the manufacturing process. Construction relates to sustainable issues during the construction phase, i.e. installation of the building materials. These include construction waste management, indoor air quality during construction, and contract closeout issues such as final cleaning, testing and balancing, and commissioning. The answers to these questions are incorporated into contract document specifications under Part 3 - Execution. This information is relevant for all buildings - not just sustainable construction.
Facility Operations relates to the durability and life span of the product, and cleaning, maintenance, and
facility operation issues. This information informs the designer, the owner, and the facility manager in selecting
products with long life and low maintenance. Deconstruction / Recycling relates to how products are processed after
their useful life in the building. Material reuse and recycling avoids solid waste disposal and lessens the use of
virgin materials, often reducing environmental impact. Questions in this category relate to manufacturer and
industry recycling programs, product reuse, recycling options, and disposal options.
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4. Additional Information
Additional information allows manufacturers to provide any additional information that they want to share about
their company's environmental policy or programs, other environmental groups that also list their products, or
other environmental information they want to share. This category relates to the transparency of the information
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Authorization is an assurance to CSI and users of GreenFormat that the information provided by the manufacturer
is true and correct and has the company's official endorsement behind it. A technical contact at the manufacturer
is requested in case users of the database have questions.
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