It’s easier for the market and consumers to stay with the status quo, but if designers and builders start asking for less toxic building products & materials, manufactures will respond by developing and selling those products – thus establishing a new market.
Why Should My Company Participate in a Product Inquiry?
Integrated Eco Strategy works with manufacturers as part of the Living Building Challenge (LBC) program, using our Red2Green product database to help create healthier buildings using products and materials free of the worst-in-class toxins. (See our FAQ section below.)
LBC, and its related Declare program, assists manufacturers who want to develop and promote healthier products. Some manufacturers who are unfamiliar with the process and the reasons behind it may feel that product disclosure wastes their time or will impede their business. This not the case. As institutions, businesses and individuals realize the myriad benefits of avoiding toxins in day-to-day life, they start to require products that reflect this desire.
For a manufacturer’s perspective on this, see what high-performance construction products manufacturer Prosoco discovered, in their short video “Buildings Can Give More Than They Take.”
Another common concern is that disclosing the presence of Red List ingredients will mean a product cannot be used. Again, this not the case. While the elimination of Red List ingredients is important, this is not always attainable for a variety of reasons. Manufacturers’ level of disclosure and transparency, the place of final manufacture, end of life options and other unique, case-by-case factors can also have a bearing on the ultimate product choices.
Our role, and goal, is simple: To simplify manufacturer participation in the Living Building Challenge certification process, and to provide a transparent process for environmentally responsible architects, engineers, builders and their clients to source the healthiest products available.
The team at Integrated Eco Strategy does this work impartially, providing each manufacturer ample opportunity to reach the highest level of product disclosure and provide healthy material choices. We stand ready to assist in any way possible.
Who We Are, the Red List, and the Vetting Process
Q: What is Integrated Eco Strategy and what role do you play in Living Building Challenge potential projects?
A: We are a consulting firm operating collaboratively but independently from Living Building Challenge (LBC) and its parent organization, International Living Future Institute. We wholeheartedly support the program but work directly for our clients who range from universities to contractors.
Q: Why are you contacting our company?
A: Your product is being considered for a project pursuing LBC. Our job to determine whether it complies with the Living Building Challenge rules for building materials.
Q: What is the Red List?
A: The Red List is what LBC calls the worst-in-class chemical families, prevalent in building materials. The Red List contains 800+ chemicals that are harmful for human health and the environment. Ideally, an LBC project will not contain any Red List ingredients.
Q: Why should I give you this information if it’s not required by law (generally OSHA)?
A: So that project teams like ours can know whether we can use your products. LBC is just one of the green building certifications programs (LEED and WELL are the two others) concerned about transparency and toxicity. Further, we as consumers (and occupants of buildings) have a right to know about the toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis.
VOCs, Documentation, Declare
Q: What is CDPH compliance / how do we get our product to be CDPH compliant?
A: The California Department of Public Health established testing criteria to determine how much products off-gas. Here are two labs that will test your products to determine compliance with the standard.
Q: How long do I have to provide product disclosure for my company’s product?
A: The sooner the better. We typically have 3 weeks to make a determination on LBC compliance on a product for our clients. We understand sometimes this process will take longer (if the product is very complex or you need to speak with people outside your factory), so we ask that you get us as much information as you can immediately, and if information trickles in later, forward it to us.
Q: What sort of documentation do I need to provide for my company’s product?
A. We have created a simple disclosure form for you. If you’d like to submit something else, that’s fine as long as it covers all the same information.
Q: We don’t want to give away our secret recipe, can we withhold a few ingredients?
A: Our goal is to get 100% ingredient transparency. However, If you cannot tell us the name of the ingredients but you know that they are not on the Red List, then we’ll have you sign a Proprietary Ingredient Affidavit stating so. Keep in mind that our preference will always be to use products where the Manufacturer has been transparent about ingredient composition.
Q: Who uses the information that I provide about my company’s product?
A. Our project team uses it to determine LBC compliance. Through our proprietary database, other LBC project teams will have access any public information you share with us. If you share documents with us that you don’t want anyone else to see, we will keep those documents and that information confidential.
Q: Can I provide you ingredient information but have it remain confidential?
A: Yes. Outside our project team, ingredient information will only be made available the overall LBC auditor. Any other information can remain confidential at your request.
Q: Does this process cost us anything?
A: No. Working with us at Integrated Eco Strategy to research a product is free.
Q: What is Declare and how much does it cost?
A. A Declare label on a product states where the product is made, what its made of and where it needs to go at the end of its life. All products with Declare labels can be found on a website. More information, including the cost to “declare” a product can be found here.
Q: If no single component weighs more than 10% of the total weight of the unit, do we need to disclose a material declaration for anything?
A: Yes. Our goal is learn what all ingredients are, even if they are a small percentage of the whole.
Q: Why is _____ ingredient on the red list?
A: This guide from ILFI gives a brief explanation of all the red list ingredients.
Q: What is the end goal of these manufacturer-vetter dialogues?
A: The end goal is to push the materials marketplace toward ingredient transparency and benign ingredients. We do this work to promote healthy and sustainable building projects. “Better building. Better world.”
Q: Has this been done before?
A. Yes. There are many certified Living Building Projects. A project that our office worked on was certified and will soon appear on this page of case studies.