Trends and Challenges to the Adhesives and Sealants Industry

Posted on 11/7/2013 12:52:19 PM By Paul Bertram

As one of 4 speakers at the ASC Fall Conference, I was disappointed at the attendance of the Education Track 2 – on Tuesday October 22 – Perspectives on LEEDv4.

This session began with an introduction by Sara Cederberg, Manager, LEED, USGBC, with a presentation on the development of LEEDv4 and specific reference to areas that impact adhesives and sealants.


Materials & Resources
MRc2: Building product disclosure and optimization
Environmental Product Declarations (EPD)

MRc3: Building product disclosure and optimization
Sourcing of raw materials

MRc4 : product disclosure and optimization
Material ingredients

EQc2: Low emitting materials
Interior adhesives and sealants applied on site (including flooring adhesive)
At least 90%, by volume, for emissions; 100% for VOC content

Sara’s session was followed by my presentation on “The Challenges of LEEDv4 and Impacts to the Specification Community – What a CTO should be thinking about before developing New Products”.

My message was CRITICAL to both end product manufacturers as well as raw material suppliers.

LEEDv4 and the Material transparency credit is helping to drive an effort to encourage the use of products and materials for which life-cycle information is available and that have environmentally, economically, and socially preferable life-cycle impacts.

To reward project teams for selecting products for which the chemical ingredients in the product are inventoried using an accepted methodology and for selecting products verified to minimize the use and generation of harmful substances. To reward raw material manufacturers who produce products verified to have improved life-cycle impacts

This is, in part, is addressing hazardous material from a risk and exposure perspective that are not part of an EPD – Environmental Product Declaration.

Per my past blog there are several pathways that LEEDv4 gives manufacturers to comply with the credit requirements.

Right after the ASC presentation, I attended another conference speaking on the same topic I gave at the ASC conference.  I was followed by an architect who is one of the market leaders driving an effort for manufacturers to report their single chemistry data by way of one of the LEEDv4 accepted pathways. This architect focused on the HPD – Health Product Declaration. His firm together with several other architectural firms developed a letter that is being sent out to manufacturers with this basic message*:

             Our expected schedule for the manufacturer representatives to submit HPDs is as

1. January 1, 2014: Manufacturers that have submitted HPDs and/or Cradle to Cradle scorecards to HDR’s design offices will be allowed to both present their products to staff informally or at lunch and learns.

2. January 1, 2015: Manufacturers who provide product transparency and health information will be given preferred status for use in specifications.

* Note this message is varies from firm to firm

Here is a list of architects that support this effort to date:

HKS, SmithGroupJJR, Cannon, Tsoi / Kobus & Associates, boora, Soloman Cordwell Buenz,WRNS Studio, SHW Group, ehdd, FXFOWLE, HDR, Siegel & Strain, Kaplan McLaughlin Diaz, GGLO, Beck Architecture, Miller Hull, Lake | Flato, Wight & Company, Yost Grube Hall, Lord Aeck Sargent, RTKL, Mahlum, Perkins + Will, Ayers Saint Gross, Sasaki

The architect at this particular conference let attendees know that they feel that their responsibility to their customers is to inform them of any hazardous materials that may be in a product or system.

When the architect was asked what he would do with a listing of single chemistries of a material, he answered by referring to the 30 chemical lists sited in the HPD Priority Hazards Lists. He would then make a decision on what materials are acceptable on a given project. This architect also referred to use of the Pharos tool. The main parts of the Pharos online tool are the Building Product Library (BPL) and the Chemical and Material Library (CML), both of which are available by subscription. Each product in the BPL is scored on several environmental and health impact categories. Per last month’s blog manufacturers and raw material suppliers should review data in this program.

What manufacturers and suppliers should be concerned about is that there is no consideration of Risk and Exposure based on chemical reactions or an end product regarding listing and evaluating single chemistries.

While there are various opinions about the legal implications for all parties regarding this chemistry reporting and evaluation it has not yet been tested in court. What are those potential liabilities?

Questions from this architect included:

  • Does this mean architectural firms need to add industrial hygenists to the staff to interpret these?
  • Does this expand the standard of care?
  • Does knowing about hazardous chemicals in the products architects and specifiers evaluate and specify make them responsible for the exposure?
  • Should architects require the HPDs be submitted during the shop drawing review?
  • What is the architect’s obligation to know whether an HPD has been published?

What are the manufacturer’s liabilities?

Manufacturers and raw material suppliers are being encouraged (?) challenged to provide this single chemistry information through a very strong movement in the architectural and green building industry. It is NOT to be ignored.

Next actions:

Make sure you have a representative of your company attend the next session on this topic

Support the ASC EPD development effort

Support ASC to develop an industry wide response to chemical makeup of products


You can be proactive or reactive. If you and the ASC don’t respond, the data will be created without your input. The possibility of being deselected also exists if no HPD or other acceptable reporting of chemistries is made available to the firms requesting this information.

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