As LEED v4 begins to permeate the commercial buildings market, you’ll be hearing more about Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and Health Product Declarations (HPDs). With LEED v4, there is now an easy way that enterprise data cable can contribute to LEED points in your building projects. Materials & Resources Credits can be earned for using at least 20 different permanently installed products (including cable) from at least five different manufacturers that offer EPDs and/or HPDs.
Our recent blog focused on ways that cable can contribute to LEED certification through EPDs and HPDs. Whereas EPDs communicate the results of a product’s lifecycle assessment, HPDs are documents that identify the ingredients a material is made of and the impacts they can have.
Created using the Health Product Declaration Open Standard, sponsored by the Health Product Declaration Collaborative (HPDC), HPD documents conform to a specific format, contain material content and health information about products, and contribute to a LEED point through LEED v4’s Material & Resources Credit.
What Are HPDs?
HPDs are basically material content lists with associated human and environmental health hazards as identified by the MSDS/SDS or other screening lists (the HPD Priority Hazard List or the GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals® list, for example). A product’s ingredients are listed by CAS (Chemical Abstracts Service) number in order of usage by weight. (For this reason, a chemical assessor should be involved in the HPD process.)
The quality of an HPD depends on three things:
- The level of disclosure
- The method used to assess or screen the material
- Whether or not the content is verified by a third party
What Do HPDs Disclose?
An HPD should disclose hazards down to 100 ppm (parts per million), and be a full disclosure of ingredients. Some HPDs seem to be compiled quickly, containing just enough information to qualify for the LEED point. But does this really help you identify all the health hazards lurking within the product? It does not.
A disclosure level of 1,000 ppm is required for an HPD to qualify for LEED points. The HPDC (and many building owners and end-users) prefer a disclosure level of 100 ppm. Several manufacturers target 1,000 ppm to avoid having to drill down further into their supply chain. As an example, for cable, that’s the difference between disclosing colorants or not. Colorants can have screened materials in them. At 1,000 ppm, these colorants wouldn’t even be assessed.
To accomplish 100 ppm, a cable manufacturer needs to address its suppliers’ unwillingness to share the “secret sauce” in its products. To help with this process, Belden has partnered with UL Environment, which deals directly with our suppliers. Belden suppliers sign non-disclosure agreements with UL Environment and then provide their formulas directly to the organization. UL Environment assesses the hazards and reports them on the HPD without disclosing the actual ingredient. This is one reason HPD content lists have “unknown” ingredients listed.
Materials should be benchmarked against a screening list, which is where a chemical assessor is used. Especially for the “unknown” ingredients, where a manufacturer’s suppliers are declaring no hazards, the HPD should include a statement clearly defining that the list was used to screen the material. Simply stating “health hazards have been disclosed” is not acceptable; stating “health hazards have been disclosed according to the HPD Priority List” is acceptable. Since Belden uses UL Environment, all materials are assessed according to the HPD Priority List and a materials health assessment methodology.
Having a third party verify results has many merits. One major benefit, which facilitates chemical disclosure to a 100 ppm level, is that the third party acts as a buffer between manufacturers and suppliers. Having an expert chemical assessment of the materials is another primary benefit. Finally, a third benefit is assurance of accuracy.
HPD 1.0 vs. HPD 2.0
There are currently two versions of the HPD standard: 1.0 and 2.0. The key differences between 1.0 and 2.0, according to the Health Product Declaration Collaborative, are:
- In HPD standard 2.0, the content inventory is organized by materials that make up the product, with substances listed under each material. This approach reflects how products are made, as well as how manufacturers think about products and assess alternatives.
- In HPD standard 2.0, hazards are associated with substances within the materials rather than presenting them as a single list in the summary. This provides important context.
- Residuals and impurities are not included in thresholds in HPD standard 2.0. Thresholds are provided for each material, and the product can include materials with different thresholds.
- The degree of disclosure is defined more fully in HPD standard 2.0, providing you with more information and enabling manufacturers to prepare an HPD without disclosing the name or CAS number of all substances – as long as all substances are characterized and screened for hazards.
The HPDC recommends using HPD 2.0; HPD 1.0 documents can only be created until Sept. 30, 2016. The HPD 1.0 documents will only be good until Sept. 30, 2018 (one year less than the three years given to documents created with HPD 2.0).
Earning LEED Points
Ultimately, the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) determines whether an HPD is acceptable toward LEED v4 credit points. A self-declared document may or may not meet the criteria. HPDs with third-party verified results and process are a foolproof way of assuring customers that the HPD document being submitted will not get rejected due to its lack of content. Belden has taken the extra step of utilizing a trusted third party, UL Environment, to produce HPDs, ensuring thoroughness and credibility.
How Belden Approaches HPDs
If prepared properly, HPDs can give a clear picture of a product’s make-up and health hazards; however, we know that you want information regarding where the risks exist within the useful life of the product, as well as the risk level and relevant exposure routes. Belden’s HPDs certainly meet the criteria to acquire LEED points, but will evolve into documents that will also better provide the information you desire.
We currently offer HPDs for the following Belden codes:
Several other Belden codes are covered as well. For additional information, click here.
Are HPDs important to you as you select products for your projects?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!
Greg is Belden’s Global Product Line Manager for copper data cables. He has 33yrs in the telecommunications industry, holds three patents, and has contributed to various standards committees. Greg graduated from Purdue University's School of Technology, and is RCDD certified.