Use Both EDPs/HPDs and Green Product Certifications When Choosing Paint
Part 2 of a 3-part article on using new sophisticated tools to select paint products
Paul Firth, a product manager with UL Environment and an expert on EPDs and HPDs, says EDPs/HPDs and green product certifications should be complementary parts of selection process when choosing paint. “If I’m a decision-maker, I’d say I want all products to comply with a green product certification. That’s my first step. Then I’m going to have some additional metrics, and then use the transparency document to decide whether the product has specific thresholds of chemicals.”
The green product certification is about performance, and can be a thumbs-up/thumbs-down type of threshold for product selection, he says. Then facility managers can incorporate other factors that are important for their organizations, and that’s where the EPDs and HPDs enter the equation. For example, if the organization is concerned with climate change, you can look at a lower global-warming potential in the EPD as an important criterion. You also can compare the materials and threshold levels of the paint exhibited in the HPD to criteria set by the organization, if applicable.
“Give (facility managers) the idea that you’re a good product, first,” says Firth. “Then provide the rest of the data, if they want to know it — EPDs for environmental transparency and HPDs for ingredient transparency.”
Experts offer facility managers a few tips for using EPDs and HPDs effectively. These are devilishly detailed documents, and it’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole of spreadsheets and calculations. So one tip is to make sure to understand what the numbers mean for each metric. “You have to know whether a number is good or bad,” says Pedersen. “If you’re just given the raw data, which is essentially what an EPD and HPD does, it’s then up to the user to figure out what they mean and what to do with that information.” So again, understand which metrics are important, what they mean, and how they compare when looking at products in the same categories, like interior paints or exterior coatings.