Updates to Continuous Improvement and Material Transparency Reporting

Posted on 3/21/2016 1:55:22 PM By Paul Bertram

The demand for more information from manufacturers and their supply chain continues to grow. The US Green Building Council LEED Certification and the Material & Resource credits started the movement. As part of the MR (Materials & Resource) Tag (Technical Advisory group) there was general agreement that more information than recycled content, local/regional materials, rapidly renewable materials and certified wood was needed.

The TAG worked out a matrix of multiple attributes in Excel spread sheets and the movement began to dive deeper into material attributes. As the discussion evolved it moved to the introduction of product Life Cycle Assessment and Environmental product Declarations (EPDs) based on established ISO 14000 standards. In LEEDv4 that takes over on new project registrations this October (2016) EPDs are clearly defined as to what reporting requirements are needed in a product/industry wide EPD.

In 2010 the Heath Product Declaration was introduced at Greenbuild and the demand for Material hazards information. It was very controversial as the HPD is a Hazards only report. Further complicating the demand for this type of reporting was the fact that while following ANSI type processes, the HPD is NOT a recognized standard. This continues to be a debate as the supporters of the HPD believe it is the only standard for hazards reporting. To be clear, it is a standardized reporting format and tool.

Part of the HPD screening requires Greenscreen assessment that can only be done with single chemistries. In order to get down to a tier level where single chemistries can be identified is a major barrier to the HPD reporting process. Part of the HPD initiative and USGBC involved harmonizing various reporting tools and data sets. HPD 2.0 and the new online tool is making this more user friendly.

As an alternative to the HPD, ASTM E60 (Work Item #44075) has a working group that is developing a standard for the Product Transparency Declaration which has now been changed to Material Ingredient Report (MIR) in the latest draft.

To add to the pressure of Material Transparency reporting the Living Building Challenge Program continues to update and expand requirements regarding their Red List and Declare labeling program

Google, for their own internal reviews, developed Portico that has its own reporting requirements.

There is also an interesting group, the Design Transparency that is exploring formation of an association to take on a more formal process for a holistic approach to material evaluation and supporting data sets.

Also, at Greenbuild 2015, USGBC and the ACC (American Chemistry Council) announced an agreement on the LEEDv4 MR credit Building Disclosure and Optimization – Material Ingredients Option 3in an effort to get deeper reporting participation in the upstream supply chains. This credit, in my opinion, is really about continuous improvement and has a strong business case to consider.

I have written about all of these programs in previous ASC blogs but feel revisiting these programs is essential for manufacturers and their supply chain.

At Greenbuild in 2015 BASF, as one of the sponsors for the Material Transparency Forum, introduced ProScale as a potential resource tool for creditable data sets that would include the possibility of Risk Assessment. This would include evaluation of hazard verses exposure. Exposure to this point has not been in the discussion as most other tools are set to eliminate hazardous chemicals. The precautionary principle is in play within these groups and is one of the founding principles of LEED and USGBC.

It is also interesting to note that GreenGlobes is updating their ANSI standard and currently includes Risk Assessment. The standard is soon come to out for the second public comment periodbefore the final update is announced.

I will end this blog with this note; I believe the key is continuous improvement. This takes us back the LEEDv4 MR credit Building Disclosure and Optimization – Material Ingredients Option 3. It incorporates and recognizes established EMS programs, ISO standards like 14.000 and 18,000. These programs would include establishing a chemical inventory and evaluation for improvements.

For larger manufacturers many of these programs are already in place. Smaller firms and their supply chains will need to consider the implications of this credit to those customers requesting this information. I can speak for Kingspan that through continuous improvement, elimination ofhalogenated Flame Retardant (a Red List Chemistry) was achieved.

Human Heath is right up there with energy efficiency in design trends. The challenge is to balance functional performance and compliance along with human health considerations.