In addition to our Internal Sustainability Policies & Initiatives Program, HKP Architects has launched our Product Transparency Guidelines. At HKP, we understand that architects play an important role in safeguarding the health, safety, and wellness of all building occupants, reducing negative impacts on the environment amid our current climate crisis, and helping to educate owners on what goes into their building. Access to information on the potential health and environmental impact of building products is crucial to making responsible material choices where possible.
Transparency is becoming the new normal. It is a key component in the latest versions of green building certifications such as LEED, WELL, and the Living Building Challenge. HKP seeks to position ourselves at the leading edge of these efforts and continue to drive the market toward using healthier materials.
Asking about the ingredients in a product has the potential to support innovation in green chemistry and encourage manufacturers to eliminate unnecessary hazardous chemicals from their supply chains, or replace them with substances that are safer for the environment.
These steps are further encouraged by the AIA. In 2014, the AIA adopted the Materials and the Built Environment position statement:
“The AIA recognizes that building materials impact the environment and human health before, during, and after their use. Knowledge of the life cycle impacts of building materials is integral to improving the craft, science, and art of architecture. The AIA encourages architects to promote transparency in materials’ contents and in their environmental and human health impacts.”
As specifiers, we take this role seriously. HKP already strives to design buildings that will reduce energy consumption, but new types of information are now necessary to help inform our decision-making process and understand our environmental impact more broadly.
For example, do the expected energy savings during a product’s use outweigh the potential exposure to unhealthy chemicals or the release of greenhouse gasses during the manufacturing process? Questions like this cannot be fully answered without transparency from manufacturers.
That is why, with all new projects, HKP will begin requesting that manufacturers provide information on material content and sourcing. In doing so, we wish to promote human and environmental health as important factors in product selection.
The information we collect will be provided to our clients in an effort to educate and challenge them to consider their own material health goals. Our material transparency policy together with our Triple Bottom Lens on sustainability, HKP aims to create environments that are regenerative and tread lightly on the Earth.