• Credit: Courtesy Wilsonart

Builders, architects, and remodelers will soon be able to help their residential clients source sustainable countertops.

NSF International and manufacturer Wilsonart are developing a Product Category Rule (PCR) for reporting the environmental effect of residential countertop products and materials throughout their entire life cycles.

“The residential countertop PCR will enable interior designers and architects to source countertops with environmentally preferable attributes using comparative data that has been gathered and reported in a standardized fashion,” said Tom Bruursema, general manager of NSF International’s sustainability division. “This is crucial in helping home builders and remodelers source products that meet their customers’ environmental goals.”

PCRs define the elements of a life cycle assessment (LCA) for a particular product group and what to include in an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), a third-party-verified report summarizing the data generated from a life cycle assessment into a simple format. LCAs measure inputs, outputs, and environmental effects of a product across its lifespan, from cradle to grave. The EPD is the third-party-verified report that presents and summarizes the data generated from a life cycle assessment in a simple format. This allows the user to analyze a single product and provides a basis of comparison among related products.

NSF Sustainability—a division of NSF International that provides sustainability standards development, testing, certification, and claims validation for commercial and consumer green products—provides EPD third-party verification by confirming that the data was collected in accordance with the applicable PCR and meets all ISO requirements. This is important as the USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) has a pilot credit that recognizes materials that have third-party verified EPDs.

Wilsonart research fellow Steve Lubowinski adds, “The Product Category Rule will provide the industry a much-needed standard for measuring and reporting the environmental attributes of residential countertops, providing a basis for improvement and a process that will enable reductions in environmental impacts over time.”