FAQs – USGBC and HPDC Announce Strategic Partnership Agreement – November 13, 2018

The Health Product Declaration® Collaborative (HPDC) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced the formation of a new strategic partnership on November 13, 2018 during the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building.

  1. What has been announced? What does “Strategic Partnership” mean?
    • USGBC and HPDC have announced an enhanced collaboration with the goal of accelerating the global development and use of healthier materials in our buildings and communities
    • Strategic partnership means that USGBC and HPDC will work together to define, develop and implement programs to further this goal. The intent is to collaborate in these efforts over a multi-year period.
  2. What are “transparency” and “material health?”
    • In our work, “Transparency” refers to a manufacturer publicly sharing information about a product’s contents and associated health information. Doing so enables someone selecting, specifying or using the product to know what is in it, and make a more informed decision.
    • In our work, “Material Health” refers to an emerging technical field that is focused on understanding the relationship between the contents of a product and how those contents may affect human and environmental health, throughout the life cycle of the contents and the products. A major objective of participants is to develop analytical and decision-making methods to help reduce the presence and use of toxins and hazards.  It includes a framework and methods for Content Inventory Reporting, Hazard Screening and Assessment, Exposure and Risk Assessment.  Analytical methods to compare characteristics of products is also an active area of development in the field.  It is cross-disciplinary, with participants drawn from fields such as toxicology, materials science, chemistry, environmental and public health and industrial hygiene.  Many design professionals in architecture and design firms, and building owners are involved to help shape the application of these emerging methods to use in the built environment.  Similarly, many manufacturers have developed specialization within supply chain and product development organizations.
  3. At what stage is the strategic partnership at this time?
    • USGBC and HPDC have been in discussions to develop the concept of this agreement. We are in the process of working together to define specific program elements of the partnership.
  4. Is USGBC acquiring HPDC? Will there be any changes to HPDC’s organization or governance of the HPD Open Standard as a result of this agreement?
    • This agreement is only a collaborative working arrangement.  There are no changes to HPDC organization or HPD Open Standard governance.  The agreement is called a “strategic partnership” to convey our intention to work together toward important, shared goals over an extended time period.
  5. Have any topic areas been identified at this time?
    • Yes, four broad categories of activities have been identified: 1) Program Harmonization around Core Standards, 2) Information Technology, 3) Education and Credentialing, and 4) Communications and Support.
  6. What are the outcomes that are sought through the strategic partnership?
    • The most important outcome is to identify and address impediments to more rapid adoption of transparency and material health practices among design professionals, as well as manufacturers. While there has been relatively rapid increase in the last several years, there are still significant gaps in the solutions that are available.  Working with our ecosystem partners, we want to focus on identifying and closing these gaps.  We also want to reduce the cost and complexity of existing solutions, which we believe can be helped through an increased focus on greater harmonization and scale.
  7. There are lots of efforts ongoing in this area of transparency and material health – will this partnership just introduce another one?
    • USGBC and HPDC initiated their joint collaboration some years ago and are now expanding our collaborative efforts.  This agreement is not about creating new initiatives, it is about, making our existing programs more effective through stronger focus and collaboration.
  8. What do USGBC and HPDC have in common that makes a strategic partnership make sense for you?
    • Both USGBC and HPDC are dedicated to accelerating the growth of transparency and material health practice. We share a common view that an open innovation collaborative model, engaging a diverse and growing ecosystem of participants, is an effective approach to accelerate innovation.  By collaborating in these efforts, combining the expertise and scale of our respective member communities and working closely with ecosystem partners, we believe we can significantly accelerate broad adoption of transparency and material health practices.
  9. Will this strategic partnership change HPD Open Standard governance or how HPDC committees function? Is there any change to the HPDC organization?
    • This strategic partnership is about collaborating in the areas identified, with the primary goal of better supporting the growing, diverse ecosystem of participants and providing greater reach and scale for these efforts.
  10. You’ve mentioned “ecosystem partners” as key participants in your efforts. Who are the ecosystem partners you work with? 
    • There is a diverse and growing ecosystem of participants in this field. We have long-standing working relationships with quite a number of organizations.
  11. When can we expect to see the initial results from these efforts?
    • Since we are building on – expanding – our existing collaboration, we will be moving forward quickly with existing efforts in all areas. For the most part, our goal is to make existing efforts more effective and increase their impact.  One area that is of particular interest is supporting growth outside our current focus in North America.  As we further develop our plans, we will provide more specificity in future announcements.
  12. Who is leading this effort in your organizations?
    • USGBC, Melissa Baker Senior Vice President for Technical Core. HPDC, Wendy Vittori, Executive Director.