Environmental Product Declarations, Health Product Declarations Offer Standardized Data On Building Product Information

By Greg Zimmerman, Executive Editor  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Which Green Building Product Criteria Should Facility Managers Use? Pt. 2: 'Red List' Of Chemicals Can Help Guide Building Product Selection, But Will Not Be DefinitivePt. 3: LEED, Living Building Challenge Can Help Inform Product SelectionPt. 4: LEED v4 Does Not Include Chemical Red ListPt. 5: This Page

As the industry moves to greater transparency and facility managers have greater access to data, standardized ways to report (and receive) data become critical. Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) are one such standardized method. EPDs are based on an ISO standard, and report environmental impacts of a product as a result of the manufacturer conducting a life-cycle analysis of the product. Often compared to a nutrition label, it's a one-stop shop for just about everything facility managers would need to know about a product. A Health Product Declaration (HPD) is very similar to an EPD. An HPD is based on an open source standard developed by the Health Product Declaration Collaborative, and includes "product contents and health information about building products and materials."

There's no question that, for manufacturers, gathering this data on their products to complete EPDs and HPDs can be expensive and time-consuming. But, says Sturgeon, "they have a moral and ethical imperative to do so."

But there's benefit to manufacturers to doing so — they're seen as industry leaders, and the availability of such information gives them a competitive advantage, says Amatruda.

One tip both Amatruda and Baer offer to facility managers is to be willing to accept the data in the standardized format in which it is offered.

For one, "it gets manufacturers familiar with the idea that there are standardized ways to report," Amatruda says.

Secondly, adds Baer, "what causes strife for manufacturers is having to track down tailored data for how each customer wants it. That's expensive, and that expense gets passed on to product pricing."

Of course, be wary of manufacturers who refuse to release information on their products in any form. "Demand the information, but accept it in the standardized form," says Baer. "If someone says 'no,' treat them as suspect."

The move toward transparency — driven by users asking for product data, and manufacturers being willing to provide it — is no small deal. Indeed, transparency has the potential to transform the market to the point at which healthy, durable, non-toxic, high-performing products become the norm, instead of the outlier.

"If manufacturers look in the mirror and see that they're ugly, they're not going to stay ugly," says Baer. But again, this market transformation — which, as Owens says, has always been one of the goals of LEED — requires users to continue to demand the data, and use it to choose products that are best in class in terms of their effects on the health of the occupants.

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  posted on 6/14/2013   Article Use Policy

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