Doing it the Right Way-Transparency in Sustainable Products
When a trend or a movement gains popularity there’s usually an unfortunate offshoot. Bad actors jump in and try and take advantage of the good will by usually exploiting the positive emotions of the buying public. The concept of “green” brings that example to light as more and more people realized the utter importance of doing things in a sustainable nature, the other side decided to jump in as well- and in this specific case the term “greenwashing” was spawned.
Posted by Danik Dancause on 11/27/2017
So what were responsible companies supposed to do when seemingly everyone claimed their products to be green but there was little to no proof to show? One pathway was to go through a very intense transparency process that would lead to an independent 3rd party Health Product Declaration (HPD) and Environmental Product Declaration (EPD).
These documents are crucial in showing a real commitment to sustainability and Walker Glass decided to take the lead and be the first in the glass industry to produce HPD/EDP’s for acid etched glass and mirror as well as un-etched mirror. These moves came from within Walker’s intense desire to continue to do things the right way.
“Walker is fully committed to the diligent protection of both the environment and the health and safety of its workers and its customers’ workers. This commitment is one of transparency regarding our practice and selection of materials. It is our small contribution towards building a better tomorrow for generations to come,” said Marc Deschamps, Business Development Manager, Walker Glass.
The ability to gain these declarations is not easy. There are several steps on both. For the Health Product Declaration there were four main areas that Walker had to work within to get the independent verification. They included:
- Summary of the product contents and potential hazards.
- Ability to meet the Health Product Declaration Collaborative (HPDC) standard
- Intense focus on the toxicity of components not the final product
- Self declaration validated by third party
To acquire the Environment Product Declaration the path was much more daunting. It included:
- Environmental data reported over the life cycle of products
- Meeting of the ISO 14025 standard
- Independent party audit
- Approval by an independent program operator
Before you could get the declaration the process had the additional steps of following Product Category Rules (PCRs) and Life Cycle Analysis (LCA).
Those areas are obviously extremely important. The PCRs are uniform rules specific to a product group used to assess inherent environmental performance. The LCA is what it’s initials stand for- a look at the life of the product, so it assesses the environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product's existence. Examples would be studies like cradle to grave that look at the material from resource extraction through all of the steps of manufacturing.
The end result is massive peace of mind for the architect and occupant. These are products that have the pedigree to be sustainable thanks to the declaration process. In addition, various green building rating programs all look for HPD/EDP in their structure, meaning whether you use LEED v4, WELL Building Standard or the Living Building Challenge, these documents play an important role.
The ability to truly build green is here and thanks to the processes outlined above there’s a checkpoint to guard against the greenwashing and bad actors trying to misrepresent what they provide.