Blog Post

Transparency in Action: Health Product Declaration Ramping Up

Life-cycle assessment, environmental product declarations, and corporate social responsibility reporting are a great start. But can we talk about health?

Life-cycle assessment, environmental product declarations, and corporate social responsibility reporting are a great start. But can we talk about health?

This sneak preview of the HPD for the imaginary "TuffStuff X42" should give you a sense of what the document will include. For a PDF of the full HPD, click here.

Here at BuildingGreen, we're pretty excited about the rise of the product transparency movement (as you may have noticed from recent coverage in January's EBN and our related blog series) but also concerned about the limitations of the environmental product declaration (EPD) framework.

So we're even more excited about the emerging health product declaration (HPD) open standard--a voluntary format for reporting building product ingredients and related health hazards--and to announce the next step in the HPD's development.

The clock is about to start ticking on a 60-day Pilot Project in which the HPD will get tested and refined. With the support of the HPD Working Group--a volunteer organization of experts from the community of designers, specifiers, and building owner/operators--thirty leading building product manufacturers will complete the draft HPD for a selection of their products.

Assa Abloy opens the door

The pilot program was initiated at the recommendation of Assa Abloy, a global manufacturer of doors, locks, and security systems. The company volunteered to contribute to the HPD effort by using the draft format to report on some of its products as a means of troubleshooting and improving the first draft, and three more firms–Interfaceflor, Scranton Products and Yolo Colorhouse paints–quickly agreed to help.

The Healthy Building Network's newsletter gives details on the HPD pilot: the full list has now grown to 30 firms!

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Why does BuildingGreen care?

Once the HPD is widely adopted, it will make one of our most challenging tasks--evaluating product composition as part of our BuildingGreen Approved screening process--much easier. More importantly, we expect that many companies will adopt cleaner formulations once product ingredients and their health hazards are widely known.

We're not just innocent bystanders here. The HPD Working Group was convened July 2011 by the Materials Research Collaborative, a joint initiative of Healthy Building Network and BuildingGreen--so we've been involved since the beginning. But we'd be excited even if we weren't involved. The HPD is designed to provide a vital missing piece in the tools available for product transparency, and we haven't seen anything else that does the trick.

This tremendous engagement and collaboration between the design and manufacturing communities show that the industry is ready. Click here (PDF) for a sneak preview of the HPD (for a completely made-up product, of course!).

Published March 15, 2012

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Comments

March 15, 2012 - 6:08 pm

Dear Friends at Building Green,

It was with great joy, some amazement and a definite feeling of relief that I read Jennifer Atlee's piece, Transparency In Action, and the discussion of the pilot program, Health Product Declaration (HPD).

As an Environmental Health Consultant and Designer since 1990, I have dedicated my work to the subject of the health ramifications of the materials we as consultants, designers and specifiers, recommend and employ in our design projects. It has always been my intent to marry beauty with "healthy life sustaining design." In 1994, as a speaker at the Los Angeles AIA Conference, I asked that we all take responsibility and tell the manufacturers to "go back to the drawing board" and begin reformulating with the intent to not make products that will have serious, toxic side effects from the outset.

Almost twenty years later, I see the possibility of this happening with HPD now on the table. The rise of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), autism, asthma, environmental illness, sick building syndrome, et al, should be getting someone's attention. The so-called Green Movement with its emphasis on recycling and sustainability, has certainly avoided the discussion of personal health. It is important to remember that recycled products are still (for the most part) recycled petrochemical materials and are still outgassing and toxic to some.

Again, with great relief, and congratulations to Building Green for partnering this very important and transformative project, Health Product Declaration, I thank you.

Sincerely,

Audrey Hoodkiss

Ecology By Design
10721 Ashton Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Tele: 310-470-8055

Email: ecologybydesign@dslextreme.com