The missing link: you
No matter what role you play in the design, construction or real estate management industries, you have a role to play in improving the future of the built environment and the living things that share our world with it. By taking a few simple steps, you and other professionals like you can promote an environment of healthy transparency and create a more sustainable world for future generations.
Step 1: Insist upon full disclosure.
If you specify building materials, demand the information found in both the EPD and the Health Product Declaration (HPD). Ask for full transparency. If your request isn’t met, ask why. If you are on the manufacturing side of the equation, advocate for greater transparency. Your career and your company’s future could someday depend on it. Owners or lessors of buildings can make transparency and product toxicity criteria in purchasing or leasing decisions.
Step 2: Ask yourself the tough questions..
Before you make a decision on a building material, be willing to consider all the ways it could contribute to a healthy environment. Is it sourced from sustainable materials, and designed to minimize construction waste? Does it emit compounds that might impact human health? Are excessive amounts of energy or scarce raw materials used in its creation? Can it be safely removed and naturally recycled at the end of its working life?
Step 3: Be an advocate within your industry. .
By willingly speaking to others in your company about the need to pay attention to ecotoxicity and human toxicity, you can use your influence to spread the word. Be willing to network with your colleagues in other firms about the issues, and work to create an ongoing dialog. Ramp up your commitment by making your voice heard in industry forums. Get involved in trade or professional organizations to advance the goal of transparency. Consider getting in the ongoing effort to establish effective standards. A great place to start is www.hpdworkinggroup.org
Demand Full Transparency from all of your product manufacturer’s when specifying building materials.
Ask product representatives if their company supports full disclosure of chemicals of concern to its customers.
Ask if their products emit compounds that might impact human health and the environment.
Be willing to consider all the ways a product could contribute to a healthy environment.