Comparable to a private-label or store brand and similar to the ubiquitous Energy Star label, the home-improvement retailer plans to continue to expand the number of products that will carry the green, black and orange label.
With today's announcement, Home Depot has clearly taken the opportunity to be first to market with a label and is the first major retailer to seize on the surge in consumer concern about greenhouse-gases emissions.
The retailer plans to back the initiative with a national print push, including ads in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and consumer and shelter publications, according to a spokeswoman at Home Depot.
In announcing the program, Ron Jarvis, VP-environmental innovation at Home Depot, positioned the launch of Eco Options as one the home-improvement retailer alone could do.
"The Home Depot can provide the widest variety of environmentally friendly products at the best value to more people," Mr. Jarvis said. "The Home Depot is in the unique position to offer 1 billion customers more options to improve their environment than perhaps any other retailer."
That boast was one Lowe's, at least in part, took issue with, noting it carries all the same products Home Depot now is identifying as environmentally friendly through the Eco Options label.
"We don't have anything similar in labeling or a logo on our products, but we have all those products in our stores and have for years," a Lowe's spokeswoman said. "Carrying green items is not a new thing for us."
Home Depot's labeling initiative comes amid a boom in "green building," as consumers seek out environmentally friendly housing. A 2006 report by the National Association of Home Builders argued green building was no longer a marginal part of the industry and was heading mainstream. The report further identified 2007 as the "tipping point" and boasted that the "green home of today will become the standard home of tomorrow."
Although environmental groups and experts praised Home Depot's initiative as a good first step, concerns are being raised about the vagueness of the language surrounding the initiative and whether a company-run program will meet consumer expectations.
"The program has enormous potential," said Scot Case, regional VP of Canada's Terra Choice Environmental Marketing. "Because it is just being rolled out it remains to be seen whether it lives up to its full potential or not, and some of it will be driven by consumer response. If consumer response is favorable, there will be enormous pressure for them to improve."