The following is a guest blog from PROSOCO’s Dwayne Fuhlhage, Sustainability and Environment Director:
It’s hard to believe that the Health Product Declaration (HPD) is only 18 months old! I’ve had a front row seat in this collaborative as a participant in the original HPD Format pilot and now as co-chair of the HPD Collaborative Manufacturers Advisory Panel. The publication of PROSOCO’s 11th LEED v4 ready HPD is an opportune time for me to reflect on how far the HPD format has come, and how far it has yet to go.
Lesson #1: The HPD open format is already transforming supply chain communications and the materials ecosystem.
Many of us guessed that change would come quickly, but did not anticipate the immediate response from the architectural design and specification community. To date, 26 firms have publicly requested HPDs as shown in the GreenWizard repository.
Manufacturers respond to that level of demand, and natural competitive forces kick in. The coating and caulking sealants industry sectors were already accustomed to avoiding chemicals listed under California Proposition 65. Disclosure of potentially problematic GreenScreen Benchmark 1 hazards is a strong driver toward selecting preferable alternatives.
PROSOCO has been here before with the Living Building Challenge, and removed phthalate plasticizers from our in-house building envelope products. By our estimate, we will have eliminated over 4 million pounds of phthalates from the materials ecosystem in the next four years. If competitors react with their own innovations, the ripple at the middle may become a huge wave at the edge of the sustainable construction product pool.
Materials screening is now front and center in our product development process. We’ve put our vendors on notice that we will extend preference to materials that have been reviewed using the GreenScreen tool and strongly emphasize ingredient transparency.
Lesson #2: The HPD format, policies and procedure are evolving.
The HPD v1.0 format came into this world with a brand new non-profit organization and technical details yet to be refined through trial by fire. Since then, the HPD Collaborative has added permanent technical staff and worked diligently to refine the HPD Builder. As a power Beta tester, I am pretty good at breaking things and each wave of bug reports has yielded quick repairs. The HPD Builder has significantly improved in the last few months and is light years better than the 2012 launch version.
The HPD format is a living document and version 2.0 is already in the works for a late 2014 release. Watch for upcoming technical interpretations and updates large and small in the near future.
Lesson #3: Manufacturers are not going it alone.
With the formation of the Manufacturers Advisory Committee at GreenBuild 2013, the HPD Collaborative broadened its channels for input on working through a number of technical and supply chain challenges. Manufacturers from multiple product sectors are now working together to help the HPD open format go to scale.
As the Collaborative has matured, so have technical resources and interpretations that can be found on its website.
For the benefit of the design sector and manufacturers, Collaborative staff have worked with USGBC to verify threshold requirements for Options 1 and 2 in the LEED v4 Building product disclosure and optimization – material ingredients credit language.
Seven product sustainability service companies have partnered with the HPD Collaborative in a pilot verification and quality assurance program. A number of manufacturers are already taking advantage of these third-party HPD preparation solutions.
Lesson #4: Suppliers are getting used to transparency requests (mostly).
As a chemical management expert for a cleaning, coating and sealant product manufacturing company, I manage molecules on a daily basis to meet any number of certification and regulatory requirements. Our suppliers are accustomed to fundamental molecule management and disclosure for VOC and chemical reporting requirements. We’ve collectively worked toward streamlining Living Building Challenge Red List chemical reviews.
The HPD, however, requires a deeper dive. It is one that, frankly, pigment, dye and polymer suppliers have only dealt with tangentially due to a number of regulatory exemptions. This is the part of supply chain management that has proven the most difficult, but we are making progress. Unfortunately, there is a cost/benefit element involved. Pigments and dyes in particular go a long way and few manufacturers have the brute purchasing power to entice those suppliers to do extensive supply chain reviews of their own.
Lesson #5: The legacy materials ecosystem is complicated.
PROSOCO is not alone in discovering problematic materials as we dig through the layers of supply chain transparency. As an example, some common catalysts and pigments are designed to work with legacy plasticizers and utilize compatible carriers that we would not otherwise choose. As we encounter trace ingredients that have piggy-backed with a primary component, we prioritize replacement in our R&D workflow.
I am optimistic that the HPD Collaborative, comprised of design firms, NGOs, and manufacturers, will continue to improve the open source standard. It has taken more hours than I would like to admit, but PROSOCO has come a long way in creating representative HPDs for concrete finishes, building envelope sealants and coatings, and protective coatings for everything brick, block and stone. Materials transparency is now a megatrend that touches everything from consumer products to construction materials. I’m proud to walk alongside PROSOCO’s customers and suppliers as we work to take buildings from being less bad to more good.
Learn more about our Health Product Declaration collection.
About the author
Dwayne Fuhlhage is PROSOCO’s Sustainability and Environment Director. He is a member of USGBC’s LEED IEQ Technical Advisory Group and serves as the coatings and sealants subject matter expert in the drafting and maintenance of LEED standards. Dwayne serves as co-chair of the HPD Collaborative Manufacturers Advisory Panel and participated in the HPD pilot. He has been a stakeholder during development of the IgCC, ICC-700 and updates to CHPS and ASHRAE 189.1. Dwayne is a member of a number of chemical policy committees, including the greener chemistry-oriented NSF/GCI 355 and NSF/UL Health Based Emissions ANSI standard Joint Committees and the American Coatings Association’s Sustainability Committee and PCR Workgroup. He is a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager and holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Kansas.