Greenbuild 2013 LEEDv4 and Material Transparency Report : HPDs – Health Product Declarations

Posted on 12/17/2013 3:52:04 PM By Paul Bertram

Greenbuild 2013 offered many sessions related to Material Transparency and specifically to HPDs (Health Product Declarations).

The following is a summary some of the key events and discussions during Greenbuild:

HPD Collaborative Manufacturers Advisory Panel

An off-site HPD Collaborative Manufacturers Advisory Panel meeting was held prior to the beginning of Greenbuild. The Director, John Knott, of the HPD, the chairman and staff all spoke to the initiative including the history and intent. The HPD is positioned as an open standard format for reporting building product content and related health hazards. The goal is to make the HPD the accepted global standard for disclosure of chemical content and related health impacts for all materials in the built environment supporting all certification systems. The room was full of manufacturers and some raw material suppliers who were in many respects disappointed at the proceedings.

The Pros: Finally a group has been created to engage manufacturers in the discussion of HPD development.

The key message that was voiced is that the HPD Collaborative Manufacturers Advisory Panel is open to all. Currently there is no fee to participate (although dues were not ruled out in the future). The opportunity is for manufacturers and raw material suppliers to get engaged in the conversation. I highly encourage this participation.

The Cons: Too much emphasis on the mission and not enough discussion on the reporting challenges including the intended end result of HPD data in material selection or de-selection. Many manufacturers are not convinced that reporting of single chemistries as a useful effort in material evaluation because it does not include:

  • End product chemistry (those products that use single chemistries to produce a new chemistry that may or may not be in the end product)
  • The HPD does not address Risk and Exposure
  • The HPD has not pursued standard development through an established process such as ASTM, ANSI, or ISO and is largely based on the  “Precautionary Principle” one of the USGBC Guiding principles.
  • Maintain Integrity
    • USGBC will be guided by the precautionary principle in utilizing technical and scientific data to protect, preserve and restore the health of the global environment, ecosystems and species
  • The HPD has not demonstrated any useful assessment methodology in regards to a comprehensive material evaluation that includes end product application, functional performance, compliance and many other considerations of product selection or de-selection as referenced in the CSI (Construction Specifications Institute) Project Deliver Practice Guide. I would also recommend CSI’s Sustainable Design and Construction Practice Guide as related to material evaluation and specification.

For more information about the HPD Collaborative Manufacturers Advisory Panel contact Jennifer Atlee.

USGBC LEEDv4 Martial Transparency Sessions:

The basic overall message to manufacturers and raw material suppliers is that LEEDv4 Material Transparency is getting mixed reviews from the Design Professionals.

The loyal LEED followers believe that reporting single chemistries is an important responsibility and obligation to their clients regarding the topic of human health. The foundation for this belief, in their vision, is that “Human Health” is now trumping all other criteria in material evaluation.

Many Design professionals that I have been discussing  “Ingredient Transparency” reporting have expressed concerns about not being qualified or comfortable enough to make material evaluations based on chemistries as their skill sets are not in chemistry or toxicology. Many feel that lists of single chemistries that are to be crossed reference to the HPD 30 Priority Hazards Lists do not adequately represent the end product as related to functional performance and compliance as compared to single chemistries. There is also concern from a liability perspective. Issues such HPD data, in part, is information found on manufacturer’s MSDS sheets. MSDS sheets are not part of the construction documents. How then does adding HPD’s to the specifications create greater liability, if any?

There is still great resistance from the manufacturing community because of all these issues. However, it is clear that the manufacturing community is going to have to response in some way to these initiatives.

One such effort has led to the Product Transparency Declaration. This is somewhat more palatable in that it focuses on the “end product” and does more clearly deal with “risk and exposure” as opposed to a “hazards” list. 

Recommendation to ASC members

Work with ASC to develop an industry wide HPD reporting baseline as a beginning. I might also comment that the HPD should probably follow an industry wide Environmental Product Declaration.

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