4 Common Myths About Health Product Declarations (HPDs)

Busting HPD Myths

The Health Product Declaration (HPD) is the industry standard for reporting the material contents of building products and any health effects associated with these materials. Unfortunately, there are many myths and loads of inaccuracies about HPDs in the marketplace. It is extremely important to fight misinformation in the AEC industry and set the record straight.

Since the launch of the HPD several years ago, myths, misinformation, and fabrications have circulated about HPDs. We will review four common myths that relate to HPDs and how they have affected its adoption by the industry.

The history of HPDs goes all the way back to 2011 when the HPD Working Group released the initial draft of the HPD. A group of brave building product manufacturers volunteered to participate in a Pilot Program to test the HPD draft format. Experts from the construction industry provided crucial feedback which led to the launch of HPD Version 1.0 at Greenbuild 2012. The Health Product Declaration Collaborative (HPDC) maintains the standard as it continues to evolve.

Myth #1:
Manufacturers Have To Divulge Proprietary Information

One of the most circulated myths about HPDs is that building product manufacturers have to divulge proprietary information to the public to develop an HPD. Product manufacturers are hesitant to participate in the development of disclosure documents if their trade secrets and formulas are broadcasted throughout the industry to competitors.

While the ideal threshold for the HPD’s inventory of contents is 100% disclosure of both content identity and hazards, the HPD Open Standard supports a variety of standards when disclosure limitations exist, including intellectual property concerns. Manufacturers can opt to provide full disclosure, while other manufacturers that are concerned with intellectual property concerns may opt for less. There are mechanisms within the HPD Open Standard to protect proprietary formulations and intellectual property. It should be mentioned that major design firms will often give preference to HPDs that at least comply with the “Full Disclosure of Known Hazards” requirements.

Myth #2:
All HPDs Contribute LEED Points

There are hundreds of HPDs that are not LEED compliant. All HPDs are not created equal. A LEED v4 compliant HPD can contribute points for the LEED MR credit Building product disclosure and optimization – material ingredients. HPDs must meet the mandatory requirements for the LEED v4 credit in order to qualify. Manufacturers make common mistakes when developing HPDs. Many manufacturers don’t meet the minimum content inventory threshold of 1,000 ppm. For example, if you manufacture a paint and your product ingredients are per an OSHA MSDS at 10,000 ppm, you will fail to meet the LEED credit requirements.

Another mistake some manufacturers make is assuming that they have a LEED v4 compliant HPD that contributes points when it does not. The LEED Pre-Check Indicator is a preliminary indicator of whether specific requirements of the LEED v4 Material Ingredients Disclosure and Optimization credit have been completed. However, additional checks are required to determine full compliance with the LEED credit.

Myth #3:
HPDs Will Go Away

Another myth circulated at tradeshows, conferences, and networking events is that HPDs are a fad and will disappear in a few years. This couldn’t be farther from the truth and manufacturers who don’t develop HPDs are likely to suffer consequences and lose jobs in the future. HPDs are routine specification tools used by firms like HKS, Perkins + Will, ZGF, and many others. There are now thousands of HPDs publicly available for AEC firms to use.

Manufacturers who delay developing HPDs are only reducing their chances of being specified on LEED, WELL, and LBC projects. LEED isn’t going away, and neither are HPDs, 3-part guide specs, or architects. Bite the bullet, invest the money, and develop HPDs before your competition leaves you behind.

Myth #4:
HPDs Are Expensive

Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) are expensive. The cost of developing an HPD pales in comparison. Do you think an architect is going to specify your product if you lack 3 part guide specs? How is a LEED project team going to specify you without an HPD? Developing HPDs is part of the price of working on LEED, WELL, CHPS, and LBC projects.

For a modest fee, your company can invest in developing transparency documentation that will last many years. Doors that were closed will now be open. The ROI of an HPD is significant for any manufacturer being specified on green building projects. In the near future, its likely no product will be specified for a LEED project unless it has an HPD or comparable documentation like a Declare Label. Developing an HPD is the cost of doing business.

Has your company gained specification opportunities by having HPDs? Has your company lost jobs due to not having HPDs? ▪

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