This week, I’m in downtown Philadelphia for Greenbuild 2013, which attracts more than 30,000 building and design professionals from around the world. The event also serves as the platform for the official launch of the U.S. Green Building Council’s new LEED®v4 standard, which calls for further environmental transparency in the built environment. While much of the buzz around LEEDv4 is within the green building community, I believe that the average consumer will benefit greatly from these new standards. Why? Because increased transparency translates into a more empowered consumer base.
Take the food industry as an example. For the most part, today’s consumers are label readers and are increasingly conscious of what is deemed healthy and what is not. They are demanding more disclosure of food ingredients such as trans fat. They are thinking twice about eating foods that are impossible to pronounce. They are the reason that most super markets have growing in-store real estate dedicated to organic foods.
How can we harness this energy and apply it to the physical environment where we live, work and play? I believe that Health Product Declarations (HPDs), which play a key role in LEEDv4, are a great start. HPDs comprehensively report information about the health impacts of each ingredient used to manufacture a building product. With this, architects, designers and contractors — as well as end users and consumers— will be equipped with valuable information about their surroundings.