The Healthy Materials Initiative and the Importance of Transparency in Sustainable Digital Building Systems
May 3, 2021
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Part 3 of 4 in our series on the ways that smart building technology creates sustainable environments.
When it comes to creating healthy building materials, the proof is in the paperwork. Of course, creating and offering optimized, sustainable products is essential to meeting healthy material initiatives. But, third-party provided product transparency documentation such as EPDs, HPDs and Declare and Living Product Challenge Labels proves that a material’s claim to sustainable fame is actually quantifiable.
C’mon, Get Healthy
Many building materials in the market today contain high levels of harmful chemicals. That sad fact is precisely why the goal of the healthy materials initiative is this: To improve human and environmental health by advocating for product transparency and the reduction of “chemicals of concern” inside building materials. Oh, and to be able to prove the elimination of those harmful chemicals with transparency documentation as well.
Furthermore, when specifying products for a building project, it’s also important to consider the health impacts of the materials used in the products hidden behind the walls of the building – not just those products you can see and feel – such as cabling and connectivity.
Currently, only a limited number of manufacturers participate in the healthy materials initiative, especially those operating within the electrical, MEP and digital infrastructure space. However, there are a few who’ve answered the call for sustainable communications products. In fact, Superior Essex and Legrand have been pioneering and leading the sustainability charge in this arena for over 15 years now (and they’ve got the sustainable certifications to prove it, too).
That’s why researching, selecting and specifying products from smart building partners that manufacture them sustainably is so critical. Not only do they help protect the environment, but they also help companies achieve their project goals for healthy materials by contributing credits toward building projects earning green-building certifications.
Creating Certifiably Green Products and Buildings
Green building standards including LEED, WELL and the Living Building Challenge have a large focus on healthy materials. Selecting products with healthy materials contributes to earning these certifications for buildings.
Specifically, products that feature a Health Product Declaration (HPD) or Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) to support transparency and disclosure goals. Check out the table below for more information on these standards and the credits that Superior Essex sustainable cabling products can contribute toward.
While this may all seem a bit overwhelming at first, thankfully, platforms such as mindful MATERIALS exist to provide a repository of aggregated transparency information on human health and environmental impacts for products from leading manufacturers. The data has been vetted by experts to make the finding and selecting of healthy materials easier, so be sure to use this tool and others to your advantage when sourcing sustainable products for your next project.
To review, healthy buildings require healthy materials, so finding smart building partners whose values align with your company’s goals – and who can provide sustainable products with the necessary transparency documentation – will help you design and create a building built for our shared, sustainable future.