Volume 47, Issue 7 - September 2008

From the Editor

Backing Your Claims
Get Educated on Topics to Know Where You Stand

There’s been a lot to write about news-wise lately. There’s been crucial news for the building products distribution industry, including the anticipated adoption of a federal formaldehyde emissions standard for composite products by the Environmental Protection Agency and the latest on the side-hinged exterior door standard (see related news articles beginning on page 10).

Vital Signs
And in this issue, you can also read about more topics helpful to you and your business, such as what you can expect if you are attending the AMD Convention in Kissimmee, Fla., October 11-16. You can also read about the Arkansas distributor SCI Millwork that has created its own niche in the supply channel (see related story on page 14), and get the latest news and product information on outdoor products (see related story on page 25).

Green Thumbs
But that’s not all. The “Green” topic comes up in just about every other headline lately. On page 22, SHELTER editors discuss the two wood chain-of-custody certifications available to you and suppliers, and why you and they are choosing either of them or not.

Green continues to be a buzz word, and while I believe the movement is here to stay, building products distributors should be cautious and ask questions of their suppliers to make sure that if they claim their products are green— they really are green. You won’t want to be marketing a product as green, that really doesn’t have the data to back it up.

You may be wondering what to ask your suppliers. Members of the building industry met in July as part of a public workshop hosted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to examine green claims in the building and textiles industry. One fact was certain: many companies are making general claims with no basis behind them.

The goal of the workshop, according to the FTC, was to provide an opportunity for interested parties to study green textile and building claims. Discussion topics included: consumer perceptions of environmental claims for building and textile products; the state of substantiation for green building and textile claims; and the need for additional or updated FTC guidance in these areas.

In many of the sessions some similar themes were voiced by the panelists: how to fit single attributes of a product into a whole system, such as a home or a building; the issue of metrics—how do you gauge and measure what a label says; and how do you compare the different programs in the marketplace; and how the industry can implement life cycle analysis in place of the broad sweeping claims that are made currently.

Coming to a Close
During the closing session, Roundtable on Consumer Protection Challenges and the Need for FTC Guidance, speakers agreed that some companies are making outrageous claims when it comes to green. Session moderator James Kohm, FTC associate director, Division of Enforcement, asked the panelists: What are the one or two most important things the FTC can do to help with this issue?

• “Opinions don’t count. We need data,” said Allen Blakey of the Vinyl Institute.. “Eliminate broad sweeping claims and offer life cycle data.”

• “Substantiation,” said Christine Chase of Green Seal.

• “People need to know that all certification programs are not created equal,” said John Spears, Sustainable Design Group. The FTC is accepting comments for revisions to the green guides until August 15. To view the current copy of the guides, visit http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/grnrule/guides980427.htm.

I hope you find the news and feature articles as helpful as I believe you will. Remember, if there is a topic that you would like covered in SHELTER, please e-mail me or call me at 540/720-5584, ext. 192. You can also sign up for SHELTER’s free weekly newsletter at www.sheltermagazine.com.

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