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.
We may know the start of 2014 down to the exact second, but the lines between old and new metal design and building materials will continue to blur well into the New Year and beyond. Here are two examples of how metal manufacturers are helping to redefine the true age of metal roofs in a green world.
First, let’s look to Europe where 100-year-old zinc roofs are commonplace, and in particular, at the recently renovated 120-year-old zinc roof on St. Catherine’s Church in Reutlingen, Germany. This roof restoration called for dismantling and removing all the zinc tiles from the roof in order to inspect, clean, and salvage as many as possible. Tiles that were too damaged for reuse were recycled, but inspectors found the tiles that were not exposed to the main west-facing wind and weather were nearly all reusable. The remaining roof was re-clad with RHEINZINK 0.7mm square tiles, using 1,500 PrePATINA blue-grey 330mm x 330mm tiles.
Located at the old cemetery, the Gothic Revival-style church is now preserved to its original state, circa 1890. RHEINZINK says that with the service life of zinc products expected to last 80–100 years for roofs and 200–300 years for walls, the roof tiles will be around for New Year celebrations for generations.
Stateside, a new LEED Platinum home in Glencoe, IL, features an unusual look for a LEED home—traditional rather than modernist design, allowing the home to complement its neighborhood. The standing seam metal roof was a key element of the sustainable design. About 600 sq ft of 24-gauge PAC-CLAD material from Petersen Aluminum, Elk Grove Village, IL was used. The Silver Metallic Kynar 500 coating offers high reflectivity and SRI (solar reflectance index) ratings and is Energy Star approved.
The roof provides many green features. Its shape is asymmetrically arranged to collect as much storm water as possible. It is also sloped at two different angles—a summer and a winter angle. The steeper, south facing roof supports solar thermal panels, which are optimal for the low winter sun. The shallower south facing section of the roof includes solar PV panels, which maximize electrical production during hot summer days.
“When our client said ‘give me a roof that I will never have to replace,’ we thought metal immediately,” said Nathan Kipnis, AIA, principal of Kipnis Architecture and Planning, Evanston, IL. Meanwhile, general contractor, Scott Simpson, president of Scott Simpson Builders in Northbrook, IL, says that, beyond this project, he recently used an old metal barn roof on the interior walls of a renovated—and much beloved—bakery in Evanston.
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.
Pose this question to Robert J. Whitcomb, AIA, RRC, of C. B. Goldsmith and Associates, Inc., who served as designer on the RoofPoint-recognized East Lake High School roof-replacement project in Tarpon Springs, FL, and he will answer with a resounding yes.
“Having a program to evaluate, approve, and certify our roofing work has value if just to show our clients that the design was peer-reviewed and found to be sustainable,” says Whitcomb, who, not surprisingly, plans to incorporate the same sustainable strategies used in this project on other future projects.
Like many metal manufacturers, Whitcomb learned about RoofPoint only recently, upon completing the 216,283-sq. ft. high school roof and exterior-renovation project in spring 2012. After familiarizing himself with RoofPoint’s roof rating system, he applied for and received a Roofpoint certificate of recognition for the project.
“Our first impression of RoofPoint was that it is similar to LEED, but for roofing,” Whitcomb says. “We thought it was great that there was a program now in place to recognize our efforts. The validation came when our application [for this project] was approved, and we received our certificate of recognition.”
Whitcomb says that from the start, the school roof project was focused on sustainability, and that aim influenced all decisions, from material selection to phasing and scheduling. The high school’s new roof features a Drexel DMC 175S 0.040‐in. aluminum standing seam (snap lock) metal roof system with custom flashings and details and solar reflective roof coatings over the existing modified roofs, among other features.
What is RoofPoint? RoofPoint is a voluntary, consensus-based green rating system that helps building owners and designers select nonresidential roof systems based on long-term energy and environmental benefits. It was developed by the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing (CEIR), Washington, DC, a not-for-profit organization focused on the development and use of environmentally responsible roofing systems and technologies.
Word of RoofPoint is spreading. According to CEIR’s James Hoff, DBA, vice-president of research, and Jim Kirby, AIA, vice-president of sustainability, more than 1,000 roof-project applications are expected by the end of this year, and that number is expected to grow 10-fold in just 5 years. They stress that RoofPoint is particularly applicable to metal roofing systems and that the program
• is suitable for both low-slope and steep slope roofs, including architectural metal systems.
• provides credit for thermal break clips used with many metal roofing systems.
• recognizes a wide variety of roof surface colors other than just white as an appropriate cool roof surface.
• contains credits that help recognize metal roofing’s unique durability and life cycle features.
• recognizes both recycled content and material reuse, which are both very easy with metal.
According to its website, RoofPoint provides a simple, transparent, and professional measure to ensure that new and replacement roof systems are designed, installed, and maintained in accordance with the best sustainable practices available today. For more information on the program, visit www.roofpoint.org.
With the help of zinc wall panels, you’d never guess that this retail building, located in Hyde Park on the south side of Chicago, was formerly a Borders bookstore. The black and patina-blue VMZinc flat lock panels are not only versatile and extremely durable, but they add visual interest, even an edginess, to the building design, say Jim Tuschall of Tuschall Engineering Company Inc., Burr Ridge, IL, and architect Wil Bruchmann of Antunovich Associates, Chicago.
The project serves as an anchor to a revitalized retail street corridor near the University of Chicago campus. Slated to open in June, the building houses a women’s clothing store and yoga studio in the front portion colored blue, and a high-end restaurant and music venue in the black- colored back.
“I was drawn to the patinaed zinc because its color changes slightly with the time of day, weather, and seasons. Every time you look at the building, it has a whole different color that can range from gray to aqua blue to anywhere in between,” says Bruchmann. “The panels are uniform height but random lengths. Adding detail to the wall also created a dynamic transition between the two colors, which mimic the differing uses within the building.”
Bruchmann also notes the long life of zinc. “It ages well over time and is very resilient,” he says. “There’s no question in mind that this was the best product for this particular project. There’s no other material out there that could create this sort of look and feel.”