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Greenguard Certified: What It Means and Why It’s Important

Building your dream home or updating your current house to make it more functional and beautiful requires choosing appropriate materials for your design. There’s more to picking out the right materials than just honing in on your look though. After all, every homeowner wants to create a healthy space for themselves and their family. Greenguard certified products aim to make that wish a reality.

Greenguard certification can be a confusing concept for a lot of buyers simply looking for the best products they can choose for their homes. Removing some of that confusion will help you understand whether or not Greenguard certified products and materials are right for you. Use this quick primer to learn more about Greenguard certification when shopping for healthy home improvement products for your home.

Greenguard Certified Lamton Laminate – 12mm AC4 – American Ingenuity Collection in Township Oak / SKU: 15270330

Who is Greenguard, Anyway?

A third-party, not-for-profit organization, The Greenguard Environmental institute, often referred to as GEI, was founded in 2001. Started by a firm known for indoor air quality research and product development, the company offers independent certification of products designed to meet their standards.

Today the company has two product certification programs and one building certification program that outside companies can take part in.

What Does Greenguard Certified Really Mean?

greenguard certification

Products given the Greenguard certification meet certain criteria and standards for indoor air quality set forth by the company. In simple terms, a product with Greenguard certification has passed a test to show that it meets low chemical emissions limits. That should mean better indoor air quality for consumers and less concern over new materials you bring into your home.

These tests are designed to keep consumers safe and give them healthy alternatives to some potentially problematic mass-produced products. VOCs, or volatile organic compounds found in some products are a particular concern and a major part of the testing and certification process.

What are VOCs?

There’s a good chance you’ve heard about VOCs before. It’s likely you heard about them in relationship to interior paint, building materials or certain types of furniture. Do you know what they really are though?

VOCs, volatile organic compounds, are carbon-based chemicals that emit vapors and gasses into the air. When you bring items packed with VOCs into your home, those emissions end up inside your house and in the air you breathe. That means reduced indoor air quality, which can be particularly problematic for people with health problems like asthma and young children who are still developing. Some products can emit VOCs for years as well.

Knowing what products contain VOCs can be difficult for consumers without extensive research. Greenguard’s goal is to make the process of finding building materials and furniture free of airborne chemicals and particulates easier.

low voc porcelain kitchen
Low VOC Cabot Porcelain Tile – Dimensions Series in Glacier / SKU: 15195150

What’s the Certification Process Like?

Greenguard indoor air quality certification is a multi-step process that all new or existing products must go through to receive the Greenguard seal. Here’s how it works:

  • Products are field-validated to ensure that they use low chemical and emissions materials. Tests are performed in a temperature and humidity-controlled chamber to ensure accuracy. Anywhere from one day to two weeks is a common testing time for Greenguard certification.
  • Companies taking part in their building program may need to pass multiple tests through the design phase. More than 200 companies and product manufacturers take part in Greenguard certification programs as of 2020.
  • All certified products are tested annually for over 10,000 VOCs to retain certification.

Are There Different Standards?

Not all Greenguard certifications are the same. Here are some of the distinctions to understand about the different types of Greenguard certifications:

  • A product labeled as “Greenguard certified” meets basic indoor air quality requirements put forth by the company. These products produce low chemical and particle emissions.
  • “Greenguard gold” products meet even more stringent guidelines. These products produce zero or close-to-zero chemical and particle emissions. Greenguard gold products also meet certain specialty criteria put forth by the state of California.

Why Does Greenguard Certification Matter?

There’s no easy answer to this question because the fact is that there are many healthy, high-quality products you can use in your home that don’t have any sort of Greenguard certification. This isn’t always because they wouldn’t be certified, but rather that the products were not considered for testing. Remember that companies have to submit products and materials for this testing. That can be time consuming and difficult for some businesses.

However, as a consumer, Greenguard products do offer a certain peace of mind since they have been thoroughly tested to ensure basic indoor air quality in your home. If you have pets and kids or certain types of health problems this becomes particularly important.

Companies that go through the Greenguard certification process may also have an eye on sustainability. For sustainability-minded consumers, Greenguard certification can give a little more credence to claims made by manufacturers.

greenguard certified slate
Greenguard Certified Cabot Slate Tiles in Montauk Black / SKU: 15270660

What Greenguard Certified Materials Can I Use?

A renovation project can be a big task whether you’re updating one room or giving your whole home a refresh. Having to worry about buying building materials that won’t harm your family shouldn’t be part of the equation.

At BuildDirect, we have a range of Greenguard certified products for your home build, update or renovation project.

Natural Stone

Materials like marble, granite and slate can be a healthy pick for your home while adding natural, timeless style to any space.

Porcelain Tile

Ideal for wet spaces like bathrooms and kitchen, porcelain tile comes in a range of looks designed for traditional, transitional and modern homes. Porcelain is also easy to care for, making it a top pick for busy family spaces where superior style is essential.


Super-versatile and excellent for high-traffic spaces, vinyl flooring can be a potentially problematic material due its construction and composition. Greenguard certified laminate gives you all of the benefits of durable, easy-to-install and cost-effective flooring without the risks. It also comes in a range of looks that can mimic go-to materials like natural hardwood as well.

Are you beginning a building project or about to take on a home renovation? Even small updates to your home require quality building materials that are safe for you and your family.

Reach out to our trained representatives today to learn more about Greenguard certified products in our inventory. From designer flooring materials to building supplies designed to last a lifetime, we have a wide selection of healthy options for your home.