Green washing, and a plan to fight it

As a flowering example of cashing in on the green movement, consider a company called Tested Green.

Before it was censored by the Federal Trade Commission last month, Tested Green claimed to certify green products for as much as $549.95. But according to the FTC, Tested Green was merely a pay-to-play scheme. After customers paid — either $189.95 for a Rapid certification or $549.95 for a Pro certification — Tested Green gave them its logo and the link to a “certification verification page” that could be used to advertise their “certified” status. The agency charged that the respondents violated the FTC Act by providing the means to deceive consumers.

More than 100 customers paid various fees to have their products endorsed by Tested Green between February 2009 and April 2010. 

In the cease-and-desist settlement, Tested Green did not admit guilt. Still, the case stands as an example of the need for reliable verification services in an increasingly green world. And a group of LBM retailer organizations are taking the first steps with a program they’re calling “Claim Check Verification.” 

The Building Products Retailers Alliance, a group of state and regional LBM trade associations, launched the program this month with the help of Intertek, a third-party auditor with more than 1,000 labs and offices across the globe.

Bill Tucker, president of the Florida Building Material Association (FBMA), told Home Channel News that the idea for the program came from a group of pro dealers looking to certify retailers that carried green building materials.

“There was a realization that the real ‘green’ problem was ‘green washing,’ ” Tucker said. “The dealers at the meeting were confused about what was and wasn’t green and how they could determine which was which.”

After contacting Intertek about putting together a green certification program, the Chinese drywall problem surfaced, according to Tucker. “That occasioned us to think about the need for verifying claims for all types of building products,” he said. Thus the Claim Check program was born.

In addition to the FBMA, the alliance also includes the Construction Suppliers Association, the Illinois Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, the Kentucky Building Material Association, the Northwestern Lumber Association and the Southern Building Material Association.

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