Symbols' true meaning

More and more people start belive in eco-friendliness and energy eficiency. Raising awarnes concernig materials' and products' impact on environment has caused a need for their evaluation.

Word "eco-friendliness" is gaining popularity. It broaden its meaning, now can is used in reference to various branches and sectors of businesses. One can use it concerning food, production, technology, architecture... But how to know the true eco-friendliness of a particular thing or action? In construction industry certain energy eficiency certificates are used, food has information about its production while many products are signed with symbols.

All for whom eco-friendliness and enegy eficiency is dear, knowing meanings of symbols is a necessity. A necessity which can save funds and grant good reputation. Right symbols on products, which indicate high energy efficiency, will decrease bills in the future.

It is most important for investors to use recycled, non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and not tested on animals materials. Such products are properly marked but symbols can vary, according to product's provenance, as differnt countries and/or organisations have different (still very similar to each other) systems of certification. Use of proper materials will enable to asses the building, by international certificating organisations, positively, as desired by many investors.

Eco-friendly materials from EU are given Ecolabel which means that product uses less energy, less water, has longer lifespan and is repairable. Ecolabel is widely known as "Stokrotka" (Daisy) and was estabilished by European Comission in 1992. Nowadays 20 types of products are certified, among them: paints, light bulbs, textiles, Personal Computers, floorings, paper, and others. There are currently over 17 000 products with "Stokrotka" mark.

Another certificate is a Blue Angel (Das Blaue Engel), the oldest ecolabel in the world. It origins are in Germany and highlight products, from the same segments of the market, to be most safe to use. As much as 10 000 products are currently labeled, for example: PC's and watches. Products with Blue Angel mark are more energy efficient, are better for recycling, therefore they have lesser impact on environment. Additionally, marked products are not only eco-friendly but also designed to be more ergonomic and safer for people.

Another label can be given to a product of which, during manufacture process, side effect is high CO2 emission. If a company is financing projects concerning renevable energy, mentioned earlier product can be given Carbon Reduction Label. It firstly was awarded in 2007 to three products. Currently over 5 000 products are labelled, such as: shampoos, food, juice, light bulbs and garments.

Countries of Nordic Council (Sweden, Finland, Norway, Island, and from 1997, Dennmark) awards Nordic Swan to the products which not only are eco-friendly but also their manufacturing cycle has little environment impact. The impact is measured in three stages: production, use and utilisation. The Swan is awarded to many product, for example: paper products or home appliances.

Energy Star is very popular label. Since 1992 is awarded by US Environmental Protection Agency and US Department of Energy. The symbol can be given to: electronics, home appliances, air conditioning and heating, office equipment and illumination systems. In EU countries, Energy Star, is given since 2006.

Polish Centre for Testing and Certification, since 1998, give EKO Ecological Mark to home and foreign products. These products must not have negative impact on environment and meet certain conditions connected with natural resources usage and healthcare. Since 2005, requirements for EKO are based on Ecolabel's so that products can be awarded 2 symbols during one certification.

To be precise, there are much more "eco" symbols. They assess products' quality, manufacturing process, environmental impact, lidespan and much more. To summarise, being aware of certificates is essential for investors, developers, architects and contractors who want to ensure their buildings to be environmentally friendly. What is more, this knowledge is most important for client who wants to choose eco-friendly, energy efficient and, above all, best product.

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