Facts Certification Program
NSF/ANSI 336 – 2011:
Sustainability Assessment for Commercial Furnishings Fabric
The Definitive Sustainability Certification Program for Commercial Textiles
Facts was developed to recognize contract textiles that conform to the rigors of the multi-attribute standard NSF/ANSI 336 and are third-party certified. A Facts sustainability rating indicates a textile has been evaluated for environmental, economic and social aspects across its life cycle.
To earn the Facts certification mark, the textile must be assessed and verified by an independent third-party certification body authorized by the Association for Contract Textiles (ACT). Textiles assessed by a first or second party, or not verified by an authorized third party, cannot bear the Facts certification mark.
The Facts certification mark is owned by the Association for Contract Textiles, Inc.
Facts applies to commercial furnishings fabric used in public-occupancy settings such as office, hospitality, healthcare and institutional interiors. These textiles include but are not limited to woven, non-woven, bonded, knitted, felted and composite materials used for upholstered furniture; walls, draperies, cubicles, furniture systems and other vertical applications; and decorative top-of-bed applications such as bedspreads.
Degrees of Achievement
Facts utilizes four conformance ratings to provide ascending thresholds of sustainability. Facts certified textiles must meet all of the robust prerequisites in NSF/ANSI 336. Once a textile achieves the Facts Compliant threshold, it can be designated as a Facts Silver, Gold or Platinum rating by earning points for additional sustainability criteria.
Eight Sustainability Attributes
Facts comprehensive multi-attribute examination assesses both the composition of textiles and how they are manufactured.
Two elements that comprise half of the
evaluation focus on fiber composition:
• 20% Fiber Sourcing
• 30% Safety of Materials
Six elements that comprise the other half
scrutinize the fabric manufacturing process:
• 6% Water Conservation
• 6% Water Quality
• 12% Energy
• 2% Air Quality
• 12% Recycling Practices
• 12% Social Accountability
Additional Standards for Sustainability
Facts certification often covers criteria included in other certification programs. The Facts certification program, specifically for textiles, aligns with other industry-specific sustainability certification programs such as level® by the Business Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) and GreenSquared® by the Tile Council of North America (TCNA). ACT is pursuing strategic relationships with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the Health Product Declaration (HPD) Collaborative and other organizations in the design community to explore the possibilities of developing equal recognition programs for aspects of sustainability that overlap with Facts. In 2013, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) established Pilot Credit 80: Environmentally Preferable Interior Finishes and Furnishings. Since USGBC specifically recognized products that have been third-party certified to the ANSI/BIFMA e3 Furniture Sustainability Standard, similar recognition could possibly be granted to textiles that are Facts certified in the future.
About NSF/ANSI 336 – 2011 Standard
NSF/ANSI 336 is the principal standard used to evaluate and certify sustainability of commercial furnishings fabric over its entire product life cycle. ACT was involved from the beginning in this effort, after identifying the need for a universal sustainability standard in the commercial textile industry. In May 2011, ACT membership adopted NSF/ANSI 336 as its voluntary guideline for sustainability.
The purpose of the standard is to address the environmental, economic and social aspects of fabrics for commercial furnishings. Such fabrics can be woven, non-woven, bonded or knitted, and they can be used for upholstery (e.g., office and hotel furniture), vertical (e.g., drapery or panel systems fabric) and decorative top-of-bed applications (e.g., bedspreads) in institutional, hospitality and office settings. The standard also incorporates life cycle assessment criteria, which measure inputs, outputs and environmental impacts of textile products across their lifespan.
Based on life cycle assessment principles, NSF/ANSI 336 employs an easy-to-use point system to evaluate furnishings fabric against established prerequisite requirements, performance criteria and quantifiable metrics in eight key areas:
• Fiber Sourcing
• Safety of Materials
• Water Conservation and Water Quality
• Recycling Practices
• Air Quality in Manufacturing
• Social Accountability
Certification to NSF/ANSI 336 is based on point totals to achieve a Compliant, Silver, Gold or Platinum level. As with all ANSI standards, organizations that choose to assess their products with this standard may achieve first-party, second-party or third-party conformance.
The standard can also be used as a reference guide to sustainable production and Design for the Environment principles as they relate to commercial textiles. As a first- or second-party assessment, NSF/ANSI 336 can be met in whole or in part to internally benchmark increasingly sustainable practices or to measure the specific sustainable attributes of a product.
First-party (self-declaration) assessment is performed by the person or organization that provides the product.
Second-party assessment is performed by the person or organization that has a user or purchaser interest in the product.
Third-party assessment is performed by a person or body that’s independent of the person or organization that provides the product, and of the use or purchaser interests in that product.
In 2003, the ACT Environmental Committee surveyed existing sustainable textile standards and identified the need for a universal standard to better serve suppliers, distributors and specifiers. In early 2004, the ACT Environmental Committee selected GreenBlue* to develop a standard suitable for textiles used in commercial interiors. That fall, ACT and GreenBlue partnered with NSF International** to provide the ANSI***-certified credentials needed to build a consensus-based standard. This made NSF 336 applicable on a national level and available for a model to other areas of the textile industry. In January 2006, NSF International, ACT and other parties began building the standard, with input from manufacturers, suppliers, regulatory agencies, customers, academia and end users. Five years later, the standard NSF/ANSI 336-2011 was published.
A non-profit that equips business with the science and resources to make products more sustainable. GreenBlue is building a world where businesses are leaders for environmental stewardship and products are designed from the start with sustainability in mind. GreenBlue currently works in three program areas: chemicals, packaging, and forest products. The organization also works one-on-one with companies through GreenBlue Advisory Services. Its team of scientists, engineers, designers and business strategists translates complex scientific concepts into concrete business strategies.
NSF International has been testing and certifying products for safety, health, and the environment for more than 65 years. As an independent non-profit organization, NSF’s mission is to protect public health and the environment through standards development, inspection, testing and certification for the food, water, building materials, recall, chemical and health science industries. *Operating in more than 120 countries, NSF is committed to protecting public health worldwide.
The American National Standards Institute is a private non-profit organization that oversees the development of voluntary consensus standards for products, services, processes, systems and personnel in the United States. The organization also coordinates U.S. standards with international standards so that American products can be used worldwide.
ANSI accredits standards developed by representatives of standards developing organizations, government agencies, consumer groups, companies and others. Accredited standards ensure that the characteristics and performance of products are consistent, that people use the same definitions and terms, and that products are tested the same way.