Green Building 101: EPDs and HPDs

Green building is a growing trend, due in part to increasing concerns over sustainability efforts and consumer demands for green living. Learn more here.

Courtesy of LEED

The rise of “green building”

Green building is a growing trend, due in part to increasing concerns over sustainability efforts and consumer demands for green living. To meet this demand, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification process was established as a third-party verification system to help create an industry standard for contractors, builders and remodelers to adhere to when undertaking a project. Building with LEED certification in mind has many benefits, resulting in projects that produce less waste and are more efficient overall in terms of energy consumption and impact on occupants.

For contractors, this means that providing a level of transparency in the products used on a project is critical in achieving LEED certification. Under LEED, builders must prove that the building products they’ve selected are transparent, environmentally-friendly and are third-party verified. To qualify for LEED certification credits, contractors should seek to evaluate products with available EPDs and HPDs.

What are EPDs?

An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is a published examination of a product or product family’s environmental impact. The manufacturers that create these products conduct a life cycle assessment on each product and then get certified from an independent party for added credibility. Manufacturers can take multiple approaches to this certification. Some, for example, take a “cradle-to-grave” approach, which looks at a product’s full life cycle – from raw material extraction through its eventual impact at the end of the product’s life. By choosing products with sustainable attributes, builders can then align their projects with LEED certification.

What are HPDs?

An added level of customer transparency is achieved through Health Product Declarations (HPDs). An HPD is a document shared by manufacturers that lists product ingredients and chemicals. It also discloses any potential health risks associated with the products and reports on exposure hazards. In addition to EPDs, HPDs help achieve certain levels of LEED criteria. By choosing products with HPDs, contractors are not only achieving LEED certification, but they are taking steps to address a building’s potential impact on health – which is of increasing importance as the building industry evolves.

CertainTeed Gypsum was the first gypsum manufacturer to provide total product transparency with product-speci­fic EPDs and HPDs. However, it can be difficult for contractors to discern these certifications without proper resources. Fortunately, CertainTeed Gypsum’s ecoScorecard site gives contractors the ability to search and evaluate products based on environmental characteristics, including EPDs and HPDs, across 20 green building rating systems. The online system processes LEED letters for specific CertainTeed products and updates as rating systems change, offering easy access to the documentation required for project submittals. The tool helps to eliminate the laborious hours of generating LEED documentation in an updated user-friendly interface.

About the Author

Mitchell Schittler is a Technical Marketing Manager for CertainTeed, a North American manufacturer of building products headquartered in Malvern, Pennsylvania. Mitchell has been in the building materials industry for 17 years, 8 of which have been at CertainTeed. In his role, Mitchell is responsible for handling technical inquiries related to gypsum and finishing products, which includes fire safety, acoustics and moisture management. Mitchell is also a LEED® AP with BD+C Specialty.

About CertainTeed

Through the responsible development of innovative and sustainable building products, CertainTeed, headquartered in Malvern, Pennsylvania, has helped shape the building products industry for 115 years. Today, CertainTeed is a leading North American brand of interior and exterior building products, ideal for every application, whether commercial or residential. Click here to see our previous article on Choosing the Right Drywall.