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Texturglas is a PVC-free woven glass textile wall covering that is durable, flame-retardant, washable (when painted), and repairable… Read more
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  • Some materials provide a better alternative in an application dominated by products for which there are concerns about toxic constituents, intermediaries, or by-products. With the panoply of products made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants, some products are green simply because they provide an alternative. Examples of this are natural wall coverings, drain and vent piping, and roofing membranes. Some green products are free of hazards common to the product category; for example, LED lighting is inherently free of the mercury found in fluorescent lighting sources.

    However, it’s worth noting that without transparency about actual ingredients, there’s no guarantee that a product won’t have less common or less well-known hazards that the manufacturer isn’t talking about. We use Pharos’s Chemical and Material Library to assess less well-known hazards, and we encourage manufacturers to review the hazardous properties of all chemicals they use and seek out safer materials.

  • Just how low the VOC level needs to be for a given product to qualify for inclusion in GreenSpec depends on the product category. For most products, we require certification to California’s health-based emissions standard, CDPH Std Method v1.1 standard (also referred to as California Section 01350), which tests a product’s resultant VOC concentrations in the space after a given period of time. For wet-applied products like paints, caulks, and adhesives, we still also look for VOC content instead of, or in addition to, verified low emissions; this is because emissions testing doesn’t adequately test initial offgassing, and VOC content is currently the only widely available proxy.

Paula Melton
Managing Editor

Texturglas is a PVC-free woven glass textile wall covering that is durable, flame-retardant, washable (when painted), and repairable. Texturglas allows walls to breathe and is suitable for high-moisture areas to reduce the risk of mold and mildew. This product can be applied to nearly all wall surfaces, providing additional reinforcement and bridging minor imperfections and cracks. Available in a large variety of patterns and textures, Texturglas can be painted approximately 8 times without losing its texture and provides an estimated service life of over 30 years, according to the manufacturer.

The overwhelming majority of wallcoverings are flexible vinyl, laden with all the concerns that come with PVC and certain phthalate plasticizers—which make up a large percentage of these products. Although originally billed as easier to care for than painted walls, vinyl wallcoverings are not always durable, and rips cannot be repaired easily.

Even many vinyl-free wallcovering products are made from fossil fuels, but natural-fiber options rarely have the performance required for heavy-duty applications. Some fabrics and even polyolefin products may also incorporate halogenated flame retardants, antimicrobial compounds, or stain-resistant perfluorocarbon coatings; ask for an HPD or a Declare label to screen for each of these additives.

Products listed by GreenSpec are synthetic and natural-fiber alternatives to PVC-based wall coverings. GreenSpec looks for heavy-duty, durable wallcoverings with Cradle to Cradle Silver, Indoor Advantage Gold, or Greenguard Gold certification.

GreenSpec does not list light-duty wallcoverings, but recommends seeking out products that are available for light-duty applications that incorporate sustainable biobased content, such as flax, sisal, or organically grown cotton.

To prevent moisture buildup behind vapor-impermeable wallcoverings, GreenSpec recommends requesting micro-venting (perforations) from the manufacturer or specifying wallcoverings for interior walls only.

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