The world-wide proliferation of 'eco labels' is testament to the utility of third party certification. 

• Given the often complex data that they are based upon, labels provide simple confirmation for non-experts that products bearing a label meet with a range of environmental standards.

• Through encouraging consumer awareness, labels can exert a significant beneficial impact upon the market in environmentally preferential products and materials.
• Though there are many certificates, relatively few relate to building products and materials. Labels that include construction usually do so as one of many categories.

• Ecolabels, though mostly having developed nationally, can apply internationally. Hence some North American labels might be in use in Europe - and vice-versa. Other labels have been developed specifically for international application - the FSC label is a good example.
• ISO 14024 Type I ecolabels continue to be uncommon in the UK where the BRE's Green Guide to Specification accepts certification only from the BRE's own Eco Profiling programme

Types of ecolabel


1 Public, multi-criteria ecolabels (Type I, ISO 14024)

A 'Type I'  label is a third party assessment of a product based on a number of criteria / issues involved in the environmental impact of a product or material throughout its life cycle. These labels are the ones most used by 


'Type I environmental labelling' is defined by ISO as: 'a voluntary, multiple-criteria based, third party programme that awards a license which authorises the use of environmental labels on products indicating overall environmental preferability of a product within a particular product category based on life cycle considerations.'

Type I labelling is in use today in many parts of the world. Ecolabelling programmes that meet the requirements of ISO 14024 include:

• The European Ecolabel:
• The Nordic Swan, Scandinavia:
• The Blue Angel (Blauer Engel), Germany:
• Umweltzeichen, Austria:
• Ecomark, Japan:
• EcoLogo, Canada:

Key guiding principles of Type I labels:

• Voluntary
• A third party sets the criteria and grants licence to use the label
• Verifiable
• Criteria are set to enable products to be distinguished by measurable environmental impact(s).
• Consistent with the requirements of ISO 14020
• Criteria are set with reference to product life cycle
• Transparent process
• A product's fitness for purpose and general performance are considered
• Certificate subject to regular review

2 Public, single-issue labels

Example images

Relate to one particular environmental issue eg energy or carbon emissions

Three types of label:

1 'Pass or fail' type label linked to a specific issue. The product either meets with the standard or doesn't. Eg:

• EU Energy Star labelling the energy efficiency of office equipment:

2 'Graded' labels. Products are graded according to their environmental performance on the issue in question. Eg :

  • EU 'Energy label' which grades white goods according to their energy efficiency from A++ down to G:
3 Statement of performance. The label is non-judgemental but illustrates the measure of the issue of concern. Eg:

• Carbon Reduction Label records a products carbon footprint:

3 Private labels

Run by NGOs, industry groups or stakeholders.
Examples include:
• Forest Stewardship Council (FSC):

• British Allergy Foundation Seal of Approval :

• CertiPUR - foam block manufacturers' label: