Building product label offers radical transparency into a product’s ingredients, setting a new standard for manufacturer product disclosure
TORONTO—Construction Specialties (C/S), a manufacturer of commercial architectural products, and design firm Perkins+Will, revealed the industry’s first building product transparency label detailing the complete make-up of a product, highlighting critical life-cycle information and potential human health impacts. This intensive effort, launched at Greenbuild 2011 in Toronto, Canada, is a collaborative step toward market transformation through increased disclosure on the part of building product manufacturers.
C/S and Perkins+Will identified the industry need for such a product label based on the belief that chemicals generally harmful to humans, animals and the environment should be avoided in building products when there are reasonable alternatives. To that end, the team sought to create a means to allow people to make informed decisions when they fabricate, specify, install, use and dispose of building products.
Designed to make environmental and health disclosure easier for any manufacturer who chooses to adopt the template, the label offers a forthright declaration of the make‐up of a product and its potential impacts in multiple formats. Attendees at the Greenbuild conference in Toronto were able to view the label affixed to C/S’ MBDC Cradle to Cradle-certified Entrance Flooring product PediTred® G4 on display at the Construction Specialties booth; all may view the companion website at http://transparency.c-sgroup.com. The label identifies general product information, product content, ecological benchmarks, packaging information, the design process that went into the product and information on the product’s recyclability.
“With this Building Product Transparency Project, in collaboration with Perkins+Will, we hope to expand the conversation about manufacturer behavior and material health, recognizing a building product’s associated impacts on people and the environment,” says C/S Marketing and Product Development Manager Curt Fessler, LEED AP BD+C. “At C/S we have made a conscious decision to re‐examine the notion of what product information should be expected from a manufacturer, and we hope this effort helps to reset the limits of transparency.”
The Building Product Transparency Project is symbiotic with the “Precautionary List” developed by Perkins+Will in 2009, a list that highlights chemicals listed by government agencies as having negative health issues and the classes of building materials where they might commonly be found. The firm has made transparency about health information related to products (both known and suspected impacts on human health) a long-standing priority.
“Although at Perkins+Will we have been advocating for transparency to this degree for many years, the level of vulnerability required by a manufacturer in disclosing this information has made it challenging to find a partner willing to step forward,” says Peter Syrett, AIA, LEED AP and associate principal at Perkins+Will. “We commend C/S for this contribution. We hope that this project catalyzes more academic research on the topic of the human health impacts of products and addresses an industry-wide gap in our knowledge.”
C/S, a leader in the building products manufacturing industry, produces a wide range of products for high-traffic buildings such as health care facilities, schools, corporate offices and mass transit facilities. All C/S Pedisystems PediTred® G4 products will feature the label by the beginning of 2012, and the label template will be made available for all manufacturers who request it.