How to Use Health Product Declarations
Green your purchasing process with product ingredient labels
Could your furniture, flooring or finishes impact occu- pant health? The components of some common materials have been linked to headaches, asthma, long-term reproductive effects and even cancer. That’s why the focus of sustainability has turned decidedly
indoors – specifically, toward occupants – now that Health Product
Declarations (HPDs) have been recognized in LEED v4.
HPDs are a standard format for reporting product content and
associated health information of building products and materials.
Think of them as an ingredient label for construction products and
interior furnishings to help identify the impacts they may have on
If it sounds straightforward, it’s not. The market is flooded with
building products that claim to be “green” or “healthy,” making it
difficult to sift through myriad environmental claims. Compounding
the problem is the overabundance of third-party product certification programs available (such as Cradle to Cradle, ENERGY STAR,
FSC, GREENGUARD and BIFMA’s level) – none of which use a consistent method for evaluating a material’s composition or human
Why Use HPDs?
Breeze Glazer, LEED AP BD+C, Sustainable Design Leader,
Research Knowledge Manager and Senior Associate at
Perkins+Will’s New York office, says there are currently so many
building product certifications on the market that it’s difficult to
know which one to use for a particular application. “I think it makes
sense to get to that single level of standardization for reporting out
the chemical composition and health issues related to materials,” he
That’s part of the reason the USGBC made the move to reward
product disclosure by including credits in the Materials & Resources
(MR) category of LEED v4 for projects that utilize products with
HPDs. It streamlines the decision-making process and gives project
teams an apples-to-apples comparison of building products for
What Does This Mean for FMs?
First, it creates transparency in the product specification process.
By disclosing ingredients in products and furnishings, material specifiers can know with certainty what chemicals are being put into a
building. Second, it opens the door to understanding the impact
those products and chemicals have on building occupants and helps
building owners and operators make more informed decisions.
For example, while it’s commonly known that flame retardants
contain chemicals that are harmful to humans, what may be surprising is how prevalent and dangerous they really are. A recent
study from Perkins+Will titled “Healthy Environments: Strategies for
Avoiding Flame Retardants in the Built Environment” reveals the link
between flame retardants and a host of negative health effects.
Read the HPD Open Standard to familiarize yourself with how participating
manufacturers report product contents
and health information.
Click on “Search Products” to view
HPDs from top manufacturers of
products from concrete to cleaning
THE PHAROS PROJECT
Google, Perkins+Will and other industry
titans use Pharos to inform material selection. Choose from the Building Product
Library for product-specific information,
the Chemical and Material Library for substances of concern and endangered wood
species, or the Certification and Standards
library to learn more about how the environmental and health impacts of building
materials are classified.
LEARN MORE ABOUT HPDS
3 ways to account for occupant health in your purchasing process