Green Building Material Claims Not as Misleading as Other Consumer Products

According to an Ottawa marketing firm, 95% of goods are inaccurately marketed as “green” products. Many companies are making false claims about their products or misleading consumers.

According to a recent article in USA Today, the number of products marketed as “green” has increased by 73% in the last year. When in it comes down to it though, the biggest problem is that most companies are making claims without proof. According to the TerraChoice report, vague marketing claims are the second biggest problem.

The Federal Trade Commission recently proposed updating its guidelines for green advertising. The last time the guidelines were revised, marketers were warned to steer clear of broad claims like saying a product is “eco-friendly.” The FTC also advised against citing unqualified and unproven certifications.

Consumers should note, however, that green building materials and office goods were found to make fewer misleading claims, particularly when compared to baby and toy products. One of the reasons for this is that green building material producers have more experience navigating the waters of the green marketplace.

Green building material specifications:

Green building materials are made of renewable resources instead of non-renewable resources. Taking the environmental impact and expected life of the product into consideration, green materials are those that meet one or more of the following requirements:

  • Resource efficient – this refers to products that are recycled, naturally renewable, locally sourced, refurbished, reusable, and/or durable.
  • Indoor air quality – products in this category are non-toxic, moisture resistant, and/or emit low VOCs (volatile organic compounds), or require low VOCs to maintain.
  • Energy efficient – these products help reduce energy consumption.
  • Water conserving – these products limit water consumption inside buildings and landscaped areas.
  • Affordable – these products are considered green when prices are considered in terms of life-cycle cost of the building material.

Other Findings:

The TerraChoice report also found that some manufacturers are cleaning up their green act, making more truthful claims about their products. While the numbers are small at only 4.5%, the upward trend is a promising sign of things to come.

Interestingly, big box chains were more likely to offer products that made accurate green claims than small boutique shops. Experts believe this could be a result of big box stores having more influence over their suppliers.

While consumers should still be critical of green claims made by some manufacturers, they can be more confident in purchasing green building materials and supplies than in dealing with other product categories.

Top 3 Greenest Boston Condo Developments

With the green building movement in full swing it’s no surprise that Boston’s condo developers are starting to roll out some high end energy efficient buildings. While there are many developers and construction firms taking steps to “green” their projects, only a few select buildings have gone all the way to be certified with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) designation.  Put simply, to be LEED certified is to develop and operate in the highest environmentally friendly way possible, and in this article, I’ll take a closer look at the Boston condo market and discuss the area’s top 3 greenest Boston condo developments.

Boston’s Top 3 Greenest Condo Developments

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building and rating system was developed by the US Green Building council in 1998 to standardize what constitutes a green building. The system has gone though many iterations and its current form, version 3.0, consists of a point rating system covering all areas of development and operation, including sustainability, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, innovation in design, and regional priority. The rating system is setup to encourage developers to use and embrace building techniques that will benefit the environment and community as well as enhance the marketability of their projects.

The Macallen Building – Boston’s Greenest

The Macallen Building has a very unique triangular silhouette that is very prominent on the skyline of South Boston. When it was completed in 2007, the building earned LEED Gold certification and was the first residential building in Boston to do so. The building consists of 140 luxury condos with high-end finishes and all the amenities you would expect from a luxury condo building. The development team at Papas Properties went all out using all the latest eco friendly building techniques and sustainable building materials. Much of the building was constructed with recycled and non-toxic materials and all of the fixtures, appliances, and building systems are energy star rated. The most notable and unique eco friendly feature is the Macallen’s green roof system, which consists of grass like sedum that does not store solar energy, and also provides insulation and facilitates rain water collection. This was a very innovative solution and was the first large scale implementation of such a system in the Boston area. The best part about the Macallen is that when you enter the residences you really have no idea that it was designed to be eco friendly. It appears to be just another luxury downtown condo building, but it is so much more. The Macallen set the standard a high-end consumer friendly luxury lifestyle and sustainable living. I can only hope that other developers look at this shining example of how striving to be environmentally friendly can enhance a project’s overall appeal.

Macallen Building

Clarendon Back Bay – Silver LEED Certification

The next, and newest, green condo project in Boston is the Clarendon. Built by Related, a nationwide developer, the Clarendon seamlessly melds top-end luxury city living with a holistic approach to healthy living. The development team encourages making green a way of life and went to great lengths to provide a “healthy” building for not only the environment, but its residents.

The construction of the building used at least 10% recycled content and over 50% of the waste created during the construction was recycled. Over 20% of the materials used in the building were sourced within 500 miles of its Back Bay construction site, thus reducing transportation impacts and supporting the local economy. Included in the choice of construction materials was a myriad of green products and solutions, most notably; low voc paint, energy star appliances, high efficiency HVAC units, and use of a landscaped roof top to minimize heat gain and absorb storm water. Additionally, the Clarendon strives to encourage a healthy lifestyle by adding several features such as exclusive use of green cleaning products in common areas, offering a 24-hour fitness room, open roof top terrace, lots of natural light and easy access to the area’s recreational facilities.

Related is hoping to achieve LEED silver certification on the building and things are shaping up very well in their favor. Related had a third party consultant oversee the construction of the building systems to be sure that it would meet LEED standards and sources report that the Clarendon is right on track to meet the silver standards. I am confident that they will meet their goal.

Clarendon Back Bay

Bostonians Green Their Own Condos

The third, and perhaps most shocking green development, is your condo. There are hundreds of condo associations and complexes all over the city striving to “greenify” their residences and I challenge you to make your complex among the leaders! In a previous article of mine (see Top 3 Condo Energy Upgrades), I outlined a plan that will get you started on becoming a greener condo owner. If you are truly passionate about the environment and being a better neighbor, I challenge you to spearhead a movement in your complex, get some changes made, and let me know about it so we can feature the change in a future article of mine. Remember, it all starts with an energy audit!

These examples of Boston eco friendly developments are just the tip of the iceberg. More and more developers and Bostonians are realizing that to go green does not mean you have to make sacrifices in your quality of life. As more and more people become aware of this, green features will start to have a greater impact on the decision process of home buying. Keep an eye out for future projects and keep in mind, small changes can have huge impacts!