New Tool Facilitates Informed Choices in Building Design
Health Product

The Health Product Declaration (HPD) Open Standard is a leading tool for reporting and disclosing the contents of building products and associated health information. Akin to, but more detailed and comprehensive than, a Safety Data Sheet (SDS), the HPD helps architects and building design teams make informed choices and avoid inherent chemical hazards. By providing for a single reporting standard that is open for everyone to use, it also reduces the burden for manufacturers, who to date have been fielding a host of unique requests from designers regarding the composition of their products.
As of November 1, design teams pursuing LEED certification for their new buildings will register them under LEEDv4, which rewards (but doesn’t mandate) selecting products whose manufacturers have publicly available HPDs. HPDs are also recognized in Google’s Healthy Materials Program’s Portico database, in the DELOS WELL Building Feature 97, and other similar tools.
The HPD initiative is managed and supported by the HPD Collaborative (HPDC), a nonprofit member organization representing a broad cross-section of building industry participants. HPDC collaborates with organizations such as Clean Production Action, Healthy Building Network, the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), and the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (C2CPII). HPD reports can feed into Google’s Portico tool and Cradle to Cradle assessments, and can also provide inventory to support ILFI’s Declare labels.
Completing an HPD is the first step in subsequent product assessment and optimization efforts. The long-term goal is to spur building owners and designers to work with manufacturers to help our industry develop more products, and to know more about the materials used in the products they specify. As they become more informed, product specifiers and buyers will be better able to find products with reduced chemical footprints that have equal or better performance. Witness PROSOCO, the waterproofing manufacturer, which developed phthalate-free coatings first for the Bullitt Center in Seattle, a Living Building Challenge project, and has gone on to make this safer formulation standard in its product lines.
An SDS is a document that provides information on the properties of specific types of hazardous chemicals and how they affect health and safety in the workplace, consistent with the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). For chemical manufacturers and importers based in the United States, OSHA’s hazard communication standard requires SDSs to report potential hazardous chemicals present at or above specific cut-off values or concentrations. The reporting threshold for reproductive toxicants, carcinogens, and category 1 mutagens is 1,000 ppm. For all other hazard categories, the threshold is 10,000 ppm.
For these chemicals, SDSs list key employee-relevant data such as physical and chemical properties, safe handling and storage, incompatibilities, stability/reactivity, first aid, and measures for fighting fires and responding to accidental releases.
By comparison, HPDs go beyond the workplace to provide a more comprehensive understanding of a product’s health attributes. The HPD Open Standard development process is relatively flexible and can incorporate current information. The process enables users of HPDs to have a constructive dialogue with manufacturers about their needs for information and how these can be best reflected in HPDs. As a voluntary standard, HPDs allow manufacturers to disclose information to the level they choose or based on the information they have, ranging from minimal requirements to full disclosure and transparency. Some areas in which the information in HPDs goes beyond SDSs include items of particular interest to designers, such as VOC emissions from the finished product, whether ultra-low VOC tints are available (for paints, for example), whether nanomaterials are in the product, the presence of recycled content, and how the product’s contents have scored on hazard assessments.
Disadvantages of being unacclimatized:
  • Readily show signs of heat stress when exposed to hot environments.
  • Difficulty replacing all of the water lost in sweat.
  • Failure to replace the water lost will slow or prevent acclimatization.
Benefits of acclimatization:
  • Increased sweating efficiency (earlier onset of sweating, greater sweat production, and reduced electrolyte loss in sweat).
  • Stabilization of the circulation.
  • Work is performed with lower core temperature and heart rate.
  • Increased skin blood flow at a given core temperature.
Acclimatization plan:
  • Gradually increase exposure time in hot environmental conditions over a period of 7 to 14 days.
  • For new workers, the schedule should be no more than 20% of the usual duration of work in the hot environment on day 1 and a no more than 20% increase on each additional day.
  • For workers who have had previous experience with the job, the acclimatization regimen should be no more than 50% of the usual duration of work in the hot environment on day 1, 60% on day 2, 80% on day 3, and 100% on day 4.
  • The time required for non–physically fit individuals to develop acclimatization is about 50% greater than for the physically fit.
Level of acclimatization:
  • Relative to the initial level of physical fitness and the total heat stress experienced by the individual.
Maintaining acclimatization:
  • Can be maintained for a few days of non-heat exposure.
  • Absence from work in the heat for a week or more results in a significant loss in the beneficial adaptations leading to an increase likelihood of acute dehydration, illness, or fatigue.
  • Can be regained in 2 to 3 days upon return to a hot job.
  • Appears to be better maintained by those who are physically fit.
  • Seasonal shifts in temperatures may result in difficulties.
  • Working in hot, humid environments provides adaptive benefits that also apply in hot, desert environments, and vice versa.
  • Air conditioning will not affect acclimatization.
Acclimatization in Workers