Bill Walsh | March 15, 2012
Today, thirty leading building product manufacturers will open the door to the Age of Radical Transparency as they begin working with their customers to test and improve the Health Product Declaration (HPD) Open Standard, a voluntary format for disclosing product content and related health concerns that are typically not reported even when a product, or a building, is certified "green."
The HPD Pilot Program is rigorous, designed to maximize disclosure and accuracy of building product data, and ensure that it is reported in a fair and consistent manner wherever it appears. The Pilot Program challenges designers, specifiers and building owners to define the critical information that they need to make informed choices that promote healthy environments and globally sustainable materials use. The program is also designed to test the limits of what manufacturers know about the contents of their building products, and what they are willing to disclose to their customers. Nobody thinks it is going to be easy, but the participants agree that an open standard format has the potential to save everyone time and money, while improving the quality of information and decision-making.
What may be most inspiring about this Pilot Program, is that it was initiated at the recommendation of a global manufacturing enterprise, Assa Abloy, provider of doors, locks and security systems - what the company calls "door opening solutions." Upon learning that the HPD was being developed by a customer-led working group, the company volunteered to contribute to the effort by using the draft format to report on some of its product as a means of troubleshooting and improving the first draft. Three more firms - Interfaceflor, Scranton Products and Yolo Colorhouse - agreed, and joined in the public unveiling of the Draft HPD at Greenbuild 2011. The Pilot Project was on its way.
"The environment, business ethics and social responsibility are critical issues that corporations must address to be integral members of society," said Aaron Smith, Director of Sustainable Building Solutions at Assa Abloy. "Our unconditional aim is to make sustainability a central part of our business philosophy, culture and strategy. Our participation in the HPD Pilot Program will help Assa Abloy realize these objectives and enhance our position as a socially responsible market leader."
Thirty companies, manufacturing a diverse array of building products from structural components to office systems, have enrolled in the Pilot Program. (Enrollment is now closed.) Each has agreed to complete an HPD for as many as three products, and to provide the HPD Working Group with feedback. HPD Working Group members are providing the manufacturers with a Reference Guide, webinars and technical collaboration, to help refine the HPD to be reliable and actionable for end users, and reasonable and fair to all manufacturers. The companies will also receive support from the Pharos Project, a project of the Healthy Building Network, which will provide access to its extensive Chemical and Material Library through its web-based Pharos system. The Working Group will evaluate and synthesize the feedback from the participating companies, and revise the draft HPD into a final version that will be officially ratified and made available to the public later this year.
Amanda Kaminsky represents The Durst Organization, a founding endorser of the HPD, on the Pilot Project Steering Committee: "As an owner/operator and real estate developer, Durst strives to create the highest quality environment for tenants. The deep manufacturer dialogue initiated by the HPD Pilot Project provides a unique opportunity for us to 1) better understand how a current menu of building products can best contribute to this effort now, and 2) exchange feedback with manufacturers to continually optimize product ingredients for both health and performance as we progress."
This unprecedented level of collaboration between manufacturers and their customers holds great promise for accelerating the widespread adoption of the HPD, and positions the green building movement at the forefront of the product transparency revolution. This creates new incentives and possibilities for replacing unhealthy chemicals and manufacturing processes with superior alternatives that do not compromise quality or value.
Door opening solutions indeed!
Congratulations to the thirty manufacturers participating in the HPD Pilot Program:
Neil Kelly Cabinets
Paints & Coatings