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Selling Into LEED Jobs? Watch for New HPDs

Did you pay attention in chemistry class in high school (when you weren’t trying to melt Bic pens with the Bunsen Burner)?


BY: JOHN D WAGNER

Did you pay attention in chemistry class in high school (when you weren’t trying to melt Bic pens with the Bunsen Burner)?

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Well, even a basic knowledge of chemistry is going to suit you well if you sell into LEED projects. The reason? There is a new type of product declaration that’s increasingly part of LEED 4, and it’s called an HPD, or Health Product Declaration. (Don’t confuse HPDs with Environmental Product Declarations, aka EPDs. EPDs disclose the product’s impact in a life cycle assessment.)

HPDs take hazard reporting to a new level of granularity, because HPDs report on the chemicals in building products that represent any potential concern. You can tell by the HPD logo, which shows chemical bonds, that we’re now examining products at the molecular level, all in an effort to render entirely transparent the potential dangers of elements and compounds in all building products.

How do HPDs determine if a chemical is potentially hazardous? HPDs refer to “hazard” lists published by the government and scientific associations. Each HPD includes these items:

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  • Full disclosure of “intentional ingredients” and residuals or known hazards, in descending order of quantity.
  • “Certifications & Compliance,” VOC content that lists certifications and compliance for interior finish materials and any wet-applied materials.
  • “Accessory Materials,” any products required for installation or for maintenance, cleaning or operations.

As we used to say when we were kids, whenever our older sister read her rules for Hide-and-Seek: Wow, that’s strict!

Fact is, HPDs are really just a logical extension of the LEED standard, where environmental stewardship, both interior and exterior, is diligent…and that means reducing all known hazards. The first step to reducing know hazards is identifying them, so that anyone manufacturing, shipping, handling, delivering, installing or maintaining building products is aware of risks.

You can only imagine the HPDs that would’ve been issued from the garages or tool rooms where most of us grew up. Benzene (a cancer risk), creosote (a cancer risk), lead paint (a neurotoxin) and pentachlorophenol (highly toxic)…and don’t forget all the pesticides Dad used to dust the roses. We’d be awash in HPDs, just covering what went into Saturday chores around my childhood home in the 1960s.

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Central to the HPDs is the Hazardous Chemicals List, which itself has interesting origins. Chemicals used in building products are cross-referenced against other lists of hazardous chemicals, and those lists have been ranked by the GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals (http://bit.ly/1ggLHm1).

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