One of the most challenging tasks for LBC project teams is sourcing materials, and finding the documentation to show that those materials meet the program’s stringent requirements. The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) launched its Declare initiative to facilitate this process, touting it as a “nutritional label” for building products. To qualify for the Declare label, a company must state what its product is made of, where its component materials come from, and where it will end up after its useful life—and pay a license fee.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to get information from a manufacturer,” says Vidas, who has kept meticulous materials records for the Desert Rain project. Although companies must create material safety data sheets for their products, they’re only required to disclose hazardous materials. “And sometimes a percentage of a product will be made up of proprietary materials,” she says. “We’re trying to encourage transparency.”
Encourage—and reward. As the LBC grows, so will demand for Declare products, which should create a positive feedback loop by giving participating companies an edge. The program includes three tiers:
- LBC Red List-Free products have disclosed all of their ingredients, and contain none of the chemicals or materials on the LBC’s Red List.
- Products that are LBC Compliant meet the requirements of the Red List imperative due to a temporary exception. For example, low-mercury fluorescent lighting is a product that qualifies as LBC Compliant.
- Declared products may contain Red List ingredients but have voluntarily self-disclosed at least 99% of their ingredients. Although Declared products can’t be used on LBC projects, they still contribute toward increased transparency.
Declare was created to directly support the LBC, but anyone can access the database (declareproducts.com). While the list of products is still short, comprising mostly American companies, there are also Declare products from Portugal, Australia, and the Netherlands.
In the fall of 2013, the ILFI launched a second label protocol called Just, which asks for in-depth information on 20 aspects of workplace equity and justice. These include pay-scale equity, gender pay equity, employer-provided health insurance, and worker safety.