The Health Product Declaration (HPD) Open Standard Overview: PART ONE

Health Product Declarations (HPDs) are one of the primary specification tools for AEC firms working on LEED v4 projects. The most influential design firms in the country request HPDs for projects and in some cases demand them for specification! Building product manufacturers who have complied with HPD requests find an increased opportunity for specification. Thousands of HPDs have now been published and are available on the HPDC Public Repository.

LEED v4 was launched by the USGBC in 2013, however many building product manufacturers are still confused about LEED credits, specific requirements, and product documentation.

Companies without a Sustainability Champion or LEED Expert have been left on their own to navigate the complexities of LEED. HPDs have become a significant specification tool and therefore deserve critical analysis for manufacturers, designers, and consultants to fully understand.

In this new series, our team will provide an in-depth examination of Health Product Declaration Open Standard. Our goal is to decipher the scientific language, technical jargon, and obscure terms within the standard and provide an accessible overview of the information. The best way to understand the HPD Open Standard is by breaking it into building blocks that can be digested easily. This is not a succinct “cliff notes” version of the standard. We encourage manufacturers needing something quick and easy to review our other resources.


HPDC Technical Committee

The latest version of the HPD Open Standard Version 2.2 was launched on May 7th, 2019. The HPD Open Standard is developed and maintained by the HPDC’s Technical Committee. Committee members serve two-year terms and are selected every year by the HPDC Board of Directors. HPDC seek applications from members annually.

The HPD Open Standard development process is also carried out by Technical Sub-Groups, or TSGs, which are supervised by the Technical Committee. Subgroup members are chosen based on their experience in the specific topic to be addressed. HPDC also manages a Manufacturers Advisory Panel and a User Advisory Panel that are open to all members. While they do not play a direct role in development of the standard, they offer pragmatic feedback to the Technical Committee.

The main role of the HPDC Technical Committee is to preserve the integrity of the content in the Health Product Declaration. Responsibilities include interpretation, revision and expansion of the tool. In particular, subject matter experts are knowledgeable in the following areas:  authoritative hazard lists, assessment tool creation, compliance and certification, chemicals policy, materials chemistry, product specification, and many other topics.

Bottom Line: The HPDC Board of Directors, Technical Committee, and TSGs are running the show. If you’re a building product manufacturer and want to have a say and influence the direction of HPDs in the industry, become an HPDC Member and apply for a Panel position.


Overview of the HPD Open Standard

The Health Product Declaration (HPD) Open Standard offers a structure for building product manufacturers and their ingredient suppliers to report and disclose information about product contents and associated health information. The HPD Open Standard is a consensus, stakeholder standard, governed by the HPD Collaborative, a not-for-profit member organization.

The HPD Open Standard is comprised of three segments: instructions, the standard format, and best practices guidance. Documentation that complies with the HPD Open Standard is referred to as a Health Product Declaration. HPD reports include Product HPDs, for complete products as delivered to the job site, and Supplier HPDs, for ingredients as delivered to a manufacturer.


HPD Instructions

The HPD Open Standard provides instructions to guide a company to prepare an HPD. The instructions provide guidance for requirements for data, how to create a compliant HPD, a checklist for HPD compliance, a glossary of terms, information about hazard types and lists, and information about VOC emissions testing standards. In addition, there is best practices guidance on hazard screenings, residuals and impurities, material and substance characterization, Supplier HPD instructions and pre-checks for programs.

Per the HPD instructions, the Health Product Declaration Open Standard is the only authoritative reference for preparation of a Health Product Declaration. When the HPD launched several years ago, there were actually manufacturers making their own HPDs using a bizarre Frankenstein approach that included components of EPDs, LCAs, and greenwashing misstatements. Those days are long gone but manufacturers should pay attention to the specifics of the instructions as it will guide the entire process.

The HPD Open Standard is a specification tool, not an assessment of exposure or risk associated with a product’s use. A manufacturer many disclose life cycle information and risk assessments, however this is not mandated in the standard.


HPD Development Process

Manufacturers may develop HPDs on their own or use a third-party consultant to prepare or verify an HPD. The HPDC has developed an Approved Preparer program . Approved third-party consultants have been vetted by the HPDC to help manufacturers develop their HPDs. Complex products with multiple chemicals are prime candidates for this type of program. Ultimately, the manufacturer is still responsible for the HPD content, but the preparer helps the manufacturer follow the rules, obtain supplier data through NDAs, and deliver a LEED v4 compliant HPD.

An HPD Approved Preparer does not conduct lab tests, VOCs emissions testing, provide verification services, or create greenwashing content. Then main benefit of working with a third-party Approved Preparer is developing a compliant HPD when your team is too busy, doesn’t have the knowledge base, doesn’t understand the LEED v4 requirements, and lacks a hard science degree for complex building products. Currently, there are only four Approved Preparers in North America.

Bottom Line: If a manufacturer wants to develop an HPD to contribute points for LEED v4 and doesn’t have the time or scientific background to publish an HPD, a third-party Approved Preparer is a cost-effective strategy to accomplish these goals.

The next part of our series will dive into the format sections and offer guidance on navigating the complexities of the HPD Open Standard.

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