You may be taking into account the environmental impact of your home, office or building project and doing everything within your power to reduce it. And by reading this article, you may well be considering the impact of window dressings.
There are many materials used today that are classed as green or eco- friendly, but this post covers the certification and regulations surrounding sustainable roller blind fabrics in the UK and the importance of observing the guidance on offer.
Blind fabrics can be made of 100% recycled polyester based on used PET bottles, they can be made from natural, non-toxic materials and they can be recycled when they reach the end of their life, all while providing an energy efficient window covering.
To minimise wasting energy on heating, cooling and lighting, buildings should be constructed to be as energy-efficient as possible. Architects can substantially minimise the amount of energy required for a building’s operations by selecting the most suitable material.
When it comes to product manufacturing, everything has a detrimental impact on the environment, which means there aren’t many goods that truly meet the description of “sustainable”. Keep in mind that when something is said to be sustainable, it’s referring to a particular feature of the product that is beneficial for the environment, not the entire product.
It’s also important to consider the manufacturing process for building materials. Is the production process itself environmentally friendly? Was the process powered by sustainable energy, and were waste products reduced to a minimum? Have any efforts been made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
All of these can contribute to the eco-friendliness of a fabric. Which moves us on to certification, because this demonstrates to buyers that these products adhere to the highest standards and are the most environmentally friendly fabrics on the market, what they are made of and how sustainable they are.
- Cradle to Cradle Certified
- Cradle to Cradle Certified Fabrics
- Greenguard Fabrics
- SKA Rating
- What is the LEED Rating System?
Cradle to Cradle Certified
The Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard is used by designers and manufacturers all over the world as a revolutionary approach to creating products that have a beneficial impact on people and the environment. Thousands of products are Cradle to Cradle Certified, and an increasing number of organisations acknowledge it as a preferred product standard for making responsible purchasing decisions.
Since its inception in 2005, the Cradle to Cradle Certification has evolved to address a better understanding of the environmental and human health impacts of product design, manufacturing, use, reuse, advances in best practises and technology, disposal and its application to a broader range of product and material types.
The Cradle to Cradle design principles, developed by William McDonough and Dr. Michael Braungart of the C2CPII (Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute), envision a world where safe materials and products are constructed in a flourishing, circular economy to maximise health and well-being for people and the planet. The objective of C2CPII is to inspire and enable all stakeholders in the global economy to make and use innovative products and materials.
Products are evaluated for environmental and social performance in five key sustainability categories: material health, material reuse, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness, in order to achieve certification. For each category, a product is given an achievement level (Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum). The lowest category achievement of a product also reflects its overall certification level. The standard supports ongoing progress over time by demanding certification renewal every two years and providing certification based on escalating levels of success.
The methodology is a context-specific assessment based on the identification of chemical hazards and quantitative exposure during the final manufacturing, usage and disposal of a product. Compounds on restricted lists of chemicals over permissible levels are not known to be present in the product’s materials and no carcinogens, mutagens, or reproductive toxins were present. The product complies with the standards for volatile organic compound emissions testing, all process chemicals are recognised and are free of any grey or x-assessed chemicals and are thoroughly optimised.
Cradle to Cradle Certified Fabrics
They are not made from the standard polyesters used for conventional glare control fabrics but from an ingenious new material that is 100% extracted from annually renewable vegetable raw materials rather than from oil.
They meet the same performance standards as polyester fabrics, are very durable and less fossil fuels are used in the production of the raw materials and less greenhouse gases are produced in comparison with the traditional polymers used for synthetic fibres.
After the use phase, these glare control fabrics can be mechanically recycled. In mechanical recycling the plastic is processed back into pellets that can be re-used for a new application. If this fabric ends up in a landfill site it will not break down, so the carbon will be stored in the landfill and a positive contribution will therefore be made to climate change.
Other Cradle to Cradle certified fabrics:
If a textile item bears the Standard 100 mark, you can be confident that every component of the item has been tested for dangerous compounds and as such, is harmless to humans. The test is carried out by independent Oeko-Tex partner institutes using a comprehensive set of criteria.
Several controlled and non-regulated compounds that may be detrimental to human health are considered during the test and in many circumstances, the Standard 100 values exceed national and international regulations. At least once a year, the criterion catalogue is updated and enlarged to reflect new scientific information or statutory needs.
Fabrics that bear the Standard 100 mark:
People are exposed to the majority of chemicals in their daily lives through the air we breathe in our homes, businesses, schools and other indoor environments. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that are used to make and maintain building materials, interior furnishings, cleaning goods and personal care products.
Greenguard Certified products have been scientifically proven to fulfil some of the most stringent third-party chemical emissions criteria in the world, reducing indoor air pollution and the danger of chemical exposure.
The Greenguard Gold Certification standard contains health-based standards for additional chemicals, as well as reduced total VOC emissions levels, to guarantee that goods are suitable for use in places such as schools and hospitals.
Our EnviroScreen Optimum Metal Fabric lowers heating and cooling costs substantially, resulting in a reduction of CO2 emissions, and therefore minimises the greenhouse effect. EnviroScreen Optimum is Öeko-Tex and Greenguard Certified with a Cradle to Cradle Bronze certification.
A European Union regulation concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals, Reach was adopted to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks posed by chemicals while enhancing the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry at the same time.
The regulation obliges both EU manufacturers and importers of substances (components of mixtures and under certain conditions also as components in articles) to register them in Europe and to assure a safe use for humans, animals and the environment.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) environmental assessment technique and sustainability award body is known as the Ska Rating. It was established in 2009 to assist landlords and tenants in evaluating, rating and benchmarking fit-out projects against a set of sustainability best practises known as Good Practice Measures (GPM).
SKA includes over a hundred “best practise” measures in the areas of energy and CO2 emissions, waste, water, materials, pollution, health and transportation. Businesses that earn a SKA rating have:
- An environmental policy of a high standard
- A healthier environment
- Improved staff retention and recruitment
- A positive brand image
- Reduced operating costs
- An influential appreciation from investors and stakeholders
Project teams interested in fitting out spaces in an environmentally sustainable manner can use the SKA rating system to plan, deliver and assess sustainable fit-out and refurbishment projects. They can even utilise the SKA rating system to conduct an informal self-assessment of their fit-outs’ performance and compare them to one another and the rest of the industry. This gives clear guidance on best practices and how to achieve them, resulting in a quality-assured assessment and certification.
The SKA rating for higher education is a prime example of how window coverings can meet the criteria and an excellent benchmark to follow. For example:
- Occupant-controlled window coverings (typically blinds or screens) are fitted to the external windows and atria that receive sunlight directly or indirectly
- Coverings are designed to provide optimum glare control and allow the best possible retention of views out with the coverings drawn closed
- Fabric screens, where specified, have a visual light transmittance (VLT) of less than 10%, and
- Have solar protective coating (SPC) or Energy Solar Protective Coating (ESP)
All window treatments meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Are reused
- If new, are manufactured with at least 80% recycled content (measured by mass) and 100% recyclable content (designed for deconstruction with components that can be recycled)
- If new, have a Cradle to Cradle Silver or higher certificate
- Are supplied with an environmental product declaration, written in accordance with ISO 14025 standards, or
- Are supplied with environmental product declarations for the materials used
What is the LEED Rating System?
The most extensively used green building rating system in the world is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).
LEED is a framework for healthy, highly efficient and cost-effective green buildings that is available for all types of buildings and phases of development, including new construction, interior fit-outs and maintenance. LEED certification is a worldwide recognised mark of excellence and leadership in the field of sustainability.
BREEAM is the world’s most widely used sustainability rating system for master planning, infrastructure and buildings. BREEAM-rated developments are more sustainable environments that improve the well-being of those who live and work in them, contribute to the conservation of natural resources, and make for more appealing property investments.
The standard can be used to evaluate the renovation and fit-out of a variety of existing structures, including residences (note: in the UK there are separate standalone technical standards for non-domestic and domestic projects). Specific assessment criteria for heritage buildings are included in the standard, which take into account the limits that these projects face.
BREEAM does this through obtaining third-party certification of an asset’s environmental, social and economic sustainability performance using BRE-developed standards. It identifies the value of higher-performing assets across the lifecycle of the built environment including:
- New Construction – Used to assess the design, construction, intended use and futureproofing of new building developments.
- In-Use – An environmental assessment method to determine and drive sustainable improvements in the operational performance of buildings.
- Refurbishment and Fit-Out – Used to assess and mitigate sustainability-related impacts during the design and works of a refurbishment or fit out project.
Hopefully this comprehensive guide on certification and guidelines will help you in choosing the best eco-friendly products for your project, and if you need any advice or a quote please contact us.
Contact us for blind fabric enquiries:
13 Ronsons Way,
Telephone: 01727 220 007