Processed foods and beauty products have long had their ingredients scrutinized and made public through appropriate labeling. Now it’s the building, construction and design industry’s turn.
The fourth iteration of the LEED ratings system, v4, launched in November 2013, focuses largely on transparency, particularly when it comes to material credits. Points will be awarded for companies’ disclosure to the public about what materials their products are comprised of and how their products are made. It’s sort of like nutrition labeling for building products.
Although some may feel this creates undue stress on certain players in the industry, it actually can serve as a wealth of opportunity for consumers. The more consumers understand about a product, its origins and how it can potentially impact them directly, the more likely they will be inclined to purchase that product. Knowledge, for consumers, is power.
To leverage your product’s position within the LEED v4 rating system, it’s important to disclose three key things:
How your product is made, which includes base materials and/or ingredients used
Extraction point of the raw material
Location of manufacturing
Many opportunities exist for building products companies to be transparent about their product offerings. However, the building products and design industry is not totally in agreement about the best ways to convey that transparency.
Some believe environmental product declarations are the best way to go while others opt for health product declarations, which are similar to safety data sheets, and then there’s the product transparency declaration. Each of these has its limitations, but all strive to give a more comprehensive understanding of the product.
Whatever method you choose for disclosure, ensure that you don’t oversimplify any challenges and continue to perform best practices and ongoing education to give consumers the proper tools they need to select the appropriate building products for their needs.
The industry will soon accept LEED v4 as the standard. When that happens, building products marketers who have invested time and resources in educating buyers about their brand’s own green conscience through product transparency will be well prepared. In fact, they may find that they have blazed a clear path to success.
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