MCA is part of a Zinc Coalition that was formed by IZA in the aftermath of the Washington Department of Ecology rainwater runoff project that was concluded in 2014. Misuse of the information related to zinc from the runoff report is influencing the Governor’s office and the legislative bodies.
Letter-writing advocacy, with guidance from IZA, is showing positive impacts. Several meetings have been scheduled with IZA and Coalition members to discuss the shortcomings in the runoff report and the outdated clean water regulations. MCA members that have facilities in Washington were asked to get involved in the effort. Similar issues are being seen in California, the Great Lakes region and in Canada.
MCA is conducting research at the University of Florida to evaluate the performance of discontinuous metal panels, such as modular metal panels and snap-together standing seam. From that evaluation we will be investigating how to characterize the air permeability of these types of roof panels in order to develop a new test method to more realistically reflect the wind uplift that these systems can withstand. The main test to be utilized for the work is the UL 1897 in static and dynamic mode. Wind tunnel testing and variations to existing industry test methods will be used. An industry Advisory Panel has been created and a literature search has been summarized. Recently the Experimental Research Plan was shared with the Advisory Panel for their input. Test materials are being collected and shipped to the University of Florida for testing to commence in July. This is a significant research project, and is being conducted over three calendar years.
In a recent webinar, Dr. Jim Hoff of the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing noted several benefits and limitations of the Health Product Declaration (HPD), and even looked beyond it to newer alternative documents.
Hoff said that on the upside, the HPD document itself is relatively simple and straightforward— “it looks like a Material Safety Data Sheet (SDS),” —and is inexpensive, especially compared to Environmental Product Declarations. Still, he noted the HPD
uses little or no formal consensus review. “As a building envelope researcher and a longtime participant in standards processes throughout the world, I believe it certainly is a limitation to have a development process that is an ad-hoc process, developed outside a recognized consensus standard,” he said. “The development process does not include all stakeholders that are typically included in ANSI and ASTM processes. For example, building material manufacturers are not included in specific decision-making committees,” he said.
identifies hazard without assessing risk.
identifies chemicals of concern using many different sources with varying thresholds. Hoff cited examples of hazard warnings, such as the U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) list of known or likely carcinogen, but also pointed to what he considers “less authoritative” warnings. For example, “California Proposition 65 includes many chemicals hazardous only as precursors or during manufacturing,” he said. “When you’re looking at materials that are key ingredients in many common roofing materials [i.e., titanium dioxide, carbon black, wood dust, and bitumen], they are not generally considered to be hazardous in their finished form.”
Other newer alternative documents may offer better information, he said. “There is a whole new generation of MSDSs that are starting in 2014 that are based on a very, very rigorous, globally harmonized system, now endorsed through international treaties and endorsed and integrated by the U.S. EPA.” The new SDSs offer hazard information in a very similar methodology to HPDs and will be available much more rapidly, he said.
Another new product is the Product Transparency Declaration (PTD), which addresses risk as well as hazard assessment. “PTDs take a look at threshold levels and paths for exposure that are important in many products,” he said. Developed by the Resilient Floor Covering Institute and submitted to become an ASTM standard, the PTD could be available to a wide variety of products, Hoff said.
Meanwhile, Hoff stressed that HPDs are included in LEED v4 and are likely to be proposed for next version of International Green Construction Code. As such, he calls on material suppliers to
be proactive and engaged.
develop a uniform approach and promote industry-wide initiatives to develop consistent reporting.
use the Notes section of HPDs to explain or tell the whole story of their products.
promote alternatives to HPDs that include risk assessment in addition to hazard identification.
Transparency is a common theme in design and construction these days, and product disclosure is quickly becoming a key issue for the building materials industry. Increasingly, Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) are being required by designers and specifiers, and the findings of these reports are playing a more prominent role in how materials are chosen for projects.
Speaking primarily to material manufacturers and building designers, Hoff noted that the concept of product disclosure is moving very rapidly into the construction marketplace and is being driven by several market forces, including the green-building press, green data aggregators, and by leading architecture-engineering firms that are participating in a disclosure campaign.
Product disclosure continues to emerge in building standards and codes as well, including LEED, ASHRAE 189.1, and the International Green Construction Code. “Although the concept of disclosure is relatively new, material disclosure has or will be adopted in every major green building standard and code, and it is being introduced at almost at an unprecedented pace,” he said. Hoff explained that EPDs help disclose well known environmental impacts (i.e., global warming and ozone depletion) using established metrics and standardized processes. “It’s a very quantifiable process based on good science,” he said. He further emphasized that EPDs use a well vetted, standardized format based on global ISO consensus standards and a scientific approach over the entire product life cycle. They also provide quantitative measures of key environmental impacts.
“Of course these benefits come at a certain price,” he said. “In fact, price itself is a primary limitation of EPDs today. In my consulting practice, I’ve been involved in the development of several Life Cycle Assessments and EPDs. The order of magnitude for a typical roofing material could easily be in the six figures by the time all is said and done.” He further noted that EPDs
pose difficulties in integrating products with varying service lives.
fail to address energy efficiency contributions. “When you’re looking at the environment impacts of thermal insulation or a cool roofing membrane, you [may] not be looking at environment contributions of those products, which could offset many of those impacts.”
fail to address health impacts. “EPDs today primarily address measurements of environment burden, but they do not specifically and are currently not designed to address the potential for health and safety burdens of materials.”
There are also challenges with limited underlying data, which may lead different practitioners to obtain different results.
Hoff encourages material suppliers to consider jointly developing generic EPDs for key industry product segments. “I think there’s a real value in that,” he said. “First, you’ll learn a lot more about the process yourself and, secondly, you’ll be able to provide much broader information that can be very helpful in the marketplace.” Then, he said, get the information to data integrators, but first make sure you are using the best information available.
Overall, “increased product transparency is good because it provides a better understanding of ingredients and supply chain impacts and a strong incentive for continuous improvement,” Hoff said. But, he adds, comparisons among products will remain difficult and unpredictable. Risks include overlooking important factors and trade-offs, and arbitrarily excluding excellent products and suppliers.
Hoff’s comments on Health Product Declarations will be featured in an upcoming blog. For questions on EPDs, contact Dr. Hoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EPDs provide life-cycle assessment information and details about the product’s environmental impact (i.e., raw-material extraction, transportation, packaging, and disposal). As such, EPDs assist purchasers and users in making informed comparisons among products.
“With the recent approval of LEED v4 rating system, we expect to see more members of the design community looking for EPDs as part of an overall emphasis on transparency,” notes MCA Technical Director Scott Kriner. “The EPD for IMPs is based on the life-cycle assessment of this product category. It is a major step forward for the metal construction industry in reporting the environmental impact of IMPs.”
IMPs are composed of rigid foam that is sandwiched between two sheets of coated metal. Their steel or aluminum panel facings create a vapor, air, and moisture barrier that provide long-term thermal stability. According to MCA-member manufacturers, IMPs
offer long-term durability
come in a multitude of colors and finishes
offer cost-competitive construction advantages and long-term high performance to help lower operating costs for building owners in any construction market.