Product Manufacturers Take Notice of Perkins + Will’s Precautionary List

Posted On: 
Sep 26, 2017
Product Manufacturers Take Notice of Perkins + Will’s Precautionary List

In 2009 Perkins + Will launched the Precautionary List. This giant in the industry ranked 4th in the world in 2017 according to ArchDaily, and has long led the way in the transparency branch of the green movement. This list was set forth to begin providing the basis for a thorough knowledge of the potentially harmful chemicals and ingredients that make up the materials in our build environment.

This is based on the idea of the precautionary principle. This principle states, in part, that “if an action has a suspected risk of causing harm to humans or to the environment, that the action is harmful.” The list was not meant to be a Red List, but a list of ingredients that are detrimental to humans and the environment. Having a list of damaging ingredients gives specifiers and builders an opportunity to find a suitable alternative. Desiring to give all parties the ability to make informed decisions, the firm decided to make a constantly growing list that was searchable and easy to understand. The list is searchable alphabetically, by category, by the health effects, and by the divisions and sections that the materials might be in; such as openings, or finishes.

Just One Tool of Many

The Precautionary List is one tool in the box that every architect and design professional has. At the 2013 discussion panel Chemicals of Concern in the Built Environment, the powerhouses of the architecture industry met to discuss the major tools that they would be using to continue their quest to a build a sustainable world. This included HPDs, the Precautionary List, and the LEED v4 healthy material credits.

For product manufacturers, there are so many options that it can seem like the design professionals aren’t thinking about anyone or anything but their green bottom line. Take the Declare Label, for instance. The Declare Label is a powerful tool to use for transparency. It’s affordable, and the standard of transparency that it shows is one of the highest available. However, there is one major issue that some manufacturers have that keep them from getting a Declare Label. That is the requirement to “Include all intentionally added ingredients plus residuals up to 100ppm in the final product, including the chemical name, CAS numbers, and the percentage range by weight for each ingredient.” This causes alarm for some manufacturer’s due to the disclosure of proprietary ingredients.

A Different Direction

The LEED v4 Credit Building product disclosure and optimization - material ingredients requires only “Materials defined as trade secret or intellectual property may withhold the name and/or CASRN/EC Number but must disclose role, amount and hazard screen…”. Why would you reveal proprietary information that you don’t have to? So, the question becomes ‘How do I provide credits to a project, and show that I am viable in the green building industry?’.

The HPD is your answer. The HPD allows for “a variety of threshold standards for disclosure of intentional ingredients or residuals are supported, including limiting the disclosure to only the functional role and associated health impacts in order to protect proprietary chemicals or materials.” This allows you to contribute under LEED v4, be transparent as to the hazards that you may have in your product, and still keep your information proprietary.

As indicated in the article by Robert Nieminen about the purchasing process with product ingredient labels, the USGBC added credits to reward projects that utilize HPDs because “It streamlines the decision-making process and gives project teams an apples-to-apples comparison of building products for LEED projects.” The HPD is supported by the USGBC, the heaviest hitters in the architectural world, and still lets you keep your secrets. It is the most cost-effective and simple way to participate.

How do your product’s ingredients stand up against the Precautionary List? Will your product stand up against the 1, 2, 3 punch of the Precautionary List, HPD, and LEED v4 Material Ingredients credit knockout?

For more information or to discuss the topic of this blog, please contact Brad Blank