Nov 18, 201306:09 PMPoint of View

Stand Up for Material Health

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KG:  Stacy, can you talk about how Cradle to Cradle Certification fits in to this landscape?

SG:  Cradle to Cradle Certification embodies this whole process. It is a multi-attribute assessment and indication of achievement against Cradle to Cradle ideals; the attributes we measure are Material Health, Material Reutilization, Water Stewardship, Renewable Energy, and Social Fairness. In the Material Health attribute, the first step is working with an accredited third-party assessor to create an accurate reporting of ingredients to the 100 parts per million.  In this inventory stage, an accredited assessor helps manufacturers collect formulations and proprietary ingredients throughout their supply chain. 

Following the deep inventory, each ingredient is assessed for its toxicity to human and environmental health against 24 end points, assessed for exposure potential, and cycle-ability as a biological or technical nutrient.  All intentional inputs are considered, including recycled content.  The Cradle to Cradle Certified scorecard indicates how optimized a product is from a chemical perspective as well as an indication of achievement on the other four attributes.  The goal of the Cradle to Cradle material health attribute is for a product to have 100 percent positive chemistry and that is indicated at the Gold level of certification and above.

KG: So that we understand how and why these groups are working together at this time, Eden, can you describe the purpose and attributes of the Health Product Declaration? 

Eden Brukman:  The Health Product DeclarationTM (HPDTM) is an objective tool for the accurate reporting of product contents and how each ingredient relates to the bigger picture for ecological health. It offers a framework—a platform—for manufacturers to share information and gives a context towards a better understanding of the many variables in play for that seemingly simple question, “What is in your product?” 

Manufacturers can indicate the level of disclosure based on what is documented and communicate other relevant details that could otherwise be overlooked. It allows for disclosure to 100 ppm, though this level of reporting is not required. Because the HPD is a format, it supports a range of disclosure levels and doesn’t apply a value judgment. Rather, it educates about the language of the inventory process so we can be consistent with our intentions for transparency in the building materials ecosystem. Once a product has a compliant HPD, an assessment tool like Cradle to Cradle can be used to determine how well the product aligns with a particular set of priorities.

KG: HPD is new; are there common misconceptions about the format?

EB:  Some people have yet to explore the many ways that the HPD is flexible; it aims to meet manufacturers where they are on the path of continuous improvement for clarity about the nature of building products. If an ingredient name needs to be masked due to proprietary concerns, it can be listed as “undisclosed” and other characteristics can still be noted, such as health hazards. For some consumers, this information is more meaningful than the ingredient name itself.

The HPD also has dedicated space under each ingredient to explain the role it plays and other notable particulars. These prompts can be used to account for the health hazards associated with the ingredient. Here, it is worth differentiating between hazard and risk: the HPD inventories hazard, or the intrinsic possibility of something causing harm. It does not index risk, which is the chance or probability that there will be harm based on exposure to the hazard—this can be more subjective. Yet, manufacturers are welcome to include data about degree of risk in the ingredient notes, and are encouraged to reference other specific chemicals assessments, too.

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