Certified Green RVs

Today, third party certification is more important than ever.  Just having a manufacturer or dealer show you a self-certified label just doesn't cut it anymore. More and more people are depending on third party certification on many of the items they purchase, especially when it comes to big ticket items like a house, car, and yes, even RVs. Which leads us to how do we know when an RV is eco-friendly?

Well, one surefire way is to look for the Certified Green label. To learn more about the certification process, we caught up with Mandy Leazenby, president of Certified Green RVs, and asked her to explain a little about their certification process.

Mandy Leazenby: We've got four categories. It's resource efficiency, energy efficiency, water efficiency, and indoor air quality. Just like right now, there's nothing other than my green hang tag over there that really shouts, "Hey, this is a green RV." That's why we've got a program that looks in-depth at these materials. But we look at what the floor is made out of. We look at the wall vinyls. We look at the LED lighting. I stick my head under the faucets and read the gallon per minute flow rate. I look at the showerhead.

But there's a lot of research that has to be done. I've got to sit down with somebody in purchasing 'cause there's nothing on any of these materials. I mean, this--you know, you've got some hang tags, but those are going to get ripped off as soon as, you know, the RV is purchased. And you don't want it to look cluttered with a bunch of stickers everywhere, but somebody's--like if I open up those cabinets, there might be a certification on those cabinets. But if there's not, there's an SDS sheet that goes along with those cabinets. Or the company that makes them has some information on what's going into the construction or the materials of those. So, there's a lot of research that goes into a certification of an RV, whether I'm doing it or someone in purchasing is doing it.

So now what I'm going to do is take a look around this RV. I'm going to start at the outside. But some of the things I look at when I go into an RV, whether it's for the initial certification or a green follow-up audit, I'm going to look for the kinds of stickers it has on the outside of the unit. Is it an RVIA compliant unit? Does it have Zamp solar ready? Is it already solar? I look for my little green sticker. But some of the other things I look for, how many standard awnings does it have? Those are very important as far as keeping the unit from gaining solar heat in the summer. Shading is very important, that's considered green.

I also look at the tires to see if they are nitrogen filled. Not everybody is buying into that technology. We do for our program, but it's kind of up in the air for a lot of manufacturers.

Come on inside, I'll show you some of the things I look at in here. Shaw for one, Shaw flooring, that's a great company. They use great materials, low off-gassing materials. The fact that this unit doesn't have any carpet at all except for--actually, there's not even any carpet up there. The lack of carpeting in an RV is very important because we don't want to trap a bunch of outside contaminants in the fibers of the carpet. So, this unit is all hard flooring, definitely good for indoor air quality.

Another thing I look for is obviously on the wall board, you're not going to have anything that says, "Hey, this is green." But I know from working with this company that this is a Roysons wall film, which is water-based ink. Very, very low off-gassing. In fact, the Berkeley analytical test that was done on this Roysons vinyl was that formaldehyde did not even register enough on their test.

Another thing I look at is water efficient components. This is a fancier faucet, so they really don't want to stamp anything on it. This stamp doesn't say anything about the flow rate, so I get that information from the purchasing department. I look at cabinets. Normally, they're not going to say anything 'cause they're paper wrapped, but some of the wood, some of the actual, real wood cabinets will have a KCMA certification, Kitchen Manufacturers Association certification that says it is indoor air friendly. Another thing I look at is, where are the vents? Where are the vents in the unit? If they are off the floor, that earns points on our certification.

I also look at the appliances for energy efficiency ratings. Is the microwave a convection microwave? I know Furrion is a really good company, they're building a lot of products that have a focus on energy efficiency. Some of the smaller appliances are harder to find that information. You just got to do a little bit of digging. Fabrics are a little tough. They go through so many people's hands, so many countries' hands in fact. So there's not--there are furniture certifications, but they really haven't made it to the RV industry just yet. I also look at these vents. These are natural vents.

They also are considered skylights for me. I want to make sure that those, at least one or two of those are standard in a unit. They're great for bringing in natural light, and they're great for ventilating the RV. Another thing I look at is, as far as water goes, how many gallons per minute does this shower-- does this showerhead spew? So, this is--usually it's stamped right along here, 2.5 gallons per minute. That qualifies as being low flow, especially for a shower. For a kitchen sink, we're looking at 2.0 gallons per minute. For a bathroom faucet, we're looking at 2.0-- No, excuse me, we're looking at 1.5 gallons per minute. I know that one's 2.0, so that one doesn't qualify, but that's okay. We've got another vent in there, so there's a lot of natural ventilation happening in this unit, which is very important.

We look at the flooring, the wall vinyl, the LED lighting, the efficiencies of appliances. We do look at the bed. Is it a--is there anything green about the bedding material? I always tell people just get your own stuff. I don't really know what goes into some of these soft goods. I don't really want a whole bunch of flame retardants on stuff that I sleep on. I'll give the stuff a smell. And you can kind of tell if it has a bunch of flame retardants in it or weird chemicals.

We look at the efficiency of the chassis, of the engine. I mean, if you have an argument on how great and energy efficient your chassis is, we'll take a look at that. If your unit has got an excellent miles per gallon rating, we'll look at that. But for the time being, we're certifying the box, not the actual drivetrain. There's an industry that handles that.

Find more information specific to this unit on certifiedgreenrvs.com.

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