Glossary of Green Terminologies

The following is a quick reference guide to get you started understanding the jargon associated with green design and construction. We hope you find it useful.

1,000 ppm

One thousandth parts per million is the minimum disclosure threshold. Manufacturer measures and discloses all intentionally added ingredients and residuals that exist in the product at 1000 ppm (0.1%) or greater. These may  trigger a GreenScreen Benchmark (BM-1 or LT-1) or Possible Benchmark 1 (BM-P1 or LT-P1).

10,000 ppm (As per MSDS)

Manufacturer discloses all intentionally added ingredients and residuals that exist in a product. This is the threshold that is required by current MSDS standards

100 ppm

One hundred parts per million is the ideal disclosure threshold. Manufacturer measures and discloses all intentionally added ingredients and residuals that exist in the product at 100 ppm (0.01%) or greater. These may trigger a GreenScreen Benchmark (BM-1 or LT-1) or Possible Benchmark 1 (BM-P1 or LT-P1).

Accessory Materials

Used for the installation, maintenance , cleaning and operations materials; including materials recommended by warranty. For example, if a carpet requires a specific type of adhesive. The adhesive would be the accessory materials.

Assessment

the evaluation of the toxicological properties (hazards) of chemicals; evaluates exposure and risk assessment in relation to both environmental and human health scenarios.

Associated Hazard

disclosure of the health hazards associated with each ingredient; Portico uses a minimum set of authoritative chemical hazard lists against which ingredients are screened for human health and environmental hazards.

Asthmagen

Asthmagens are substances that are known to cause or exacerbate asthma. Asthma is a complex disease, and there is not enough evidence to point to any single cause. Public health agencies often report dust, pet dander, environmental air pollution, tobacco smoke, respiratory infections, mold, exercise, and stress as common triggers of asthma attacks.

Health organizations have also identified a number chemical asthmagens, including many that are commonly used in building materials, such as floorings, insulations and cabinet substrates. These chemicals include: formaldehyde, toluene, styrene, BPA and certain phthalate plasticizers.

Despite better management of asthma through medication, improved outdoor air quality and a dramatic decline in tobacco smoking, the incidence of asthma has continued to rise, especially in children — and in particular among children who are living in poverty.

Authoritative chemical hazard lists

a list of chemicals and their association to human health or environmental hazards. These lists are created by an expert assessment of scientific evidence by a recognized authoritative body.

Biobased

“Biobased” is a term used in the marketing materials of many types of products. While biobased technically describes a product made from a living material (soybean oil, wool, etc.) marketing materials may stretch this definition to include minerals or other naturally occurring materials that aren’t renewable, or suggest that an entire product is made of biobased materials, when in fact only a small percentage of the product is.

Blowing Agent

A class of chemicals that can generate foam in materials, such as those used in insulation, which later harden or solidify into long-lasting structures. Many are known to possess extremely high global warming potential; chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) have been mostly eliminated from new production since the 2000s, but hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are still prevalent. Blowing agents, as a class of products used in building product manufacture, are in an active transition toward healthier and more environmentally friendly options.

CAS Number

chemical abstract service number is a unique numerical identifier for every chemical described in open scientific literature of elements, chemical compounds, polymers and other substances.

Carcinogen/Cancer

Can cause or contribute to the development of cancer.

Characterization

identification and disclosure of ingredients and all hazards associated with ingredient components in the product/material formulation.

Common Product Profile

A profile of a generic, non-manufacturer-specific product type that contains: a brief description of the product type, the expected composition of the product based on publicly available sources, and corresponding health hazards inherent to this composition. Common Product Profiles (CPs) developed as part of the Quartz Project include additional information about the life cycle of the product, such as its contribution to global warming. See http://www.quartzproject.org/ for more information on CPs.

Developmental Toxicant

Can cause harm to a developing child, including birth defects, low birth weight, and biological or behavioral problems that appear as the child grows.

Disclosure Threshold

the level at which all intentionally added ingredients and residuals in the product/material formulation are disclosed (1,000 ppm, 100 ppm, or other). Different standards require specific disclosure threshold. MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheets require minimum of 10,000ppm.

Endocrine/Hormone Disruptor

Can interfere with hormone communication between cells which controls metabolism, development, growth, reproduction, and behavior (the endocrine system). Linked to health effects such as obesity, diabetes, male reproductive disorders, and altered brain development.

Environmental Attributes

this information can be found in an EPD, LCA, or other studies of global warming impact, carbon content, and embodied energy. We recommend providing this information (when available) because it will be helpful for LEED and LBC regional credit documentation and carbon accounting.

Flame Retardants

Flame retardants are chemical additives to building products that reduce their flammability. They are commonly found in textiles, plastics, coatings, finishes and foams. Halogenated flame retardants – those made with chlorine or bromine – are particularly toxic to human health, and the planet.

Flue-Gas Desulfurization (FGD)

Flue-gas desulfurization is an environmental control technology installed in the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants designed to remove pollutants from the air. These controls are also called “scrubbers”. Once the scrubbers are full of sulfur dioxide, they are often used to create synthetic gypsum. FGD gypsum can be used in drywall, but also in concrete and other applications where mined gypsum can be used. FGD can contain heavy metals such as mercury that can be released into the air when it is incorporated into these products.

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a colorless gas used as a preservative and disinfectant in the building industry, and in the manufacture of polymers. Formaldehyde is carcinogenic, irritates the eyes, nose, and lungs, and is known to react with other atmospheric chemicals to produce the deadly gas carbon monoxide. Formaldehyde is used in some paints and adhesives, in some fabric treatments, and, significantly, in the manufacture of polymeric binding resins used in a wide variety of building products. Phenol formaldehyde, urea formaldehyde, and melamine formaldehyde are all known to release formaldehyde over time long after product installation in residential and commercial spaces.

Global Warming

Can absorb thermal radiation, increasing the temperature of the atmosphere and contributing to climate change.

Global Warming Potential (GWP)

Known as “greenhouse gasses,” certain gasses have the ability to warm the earth by absorbing heat from the sun and trapping it the atmosphere. Global Warming Potential is a tool that allows scientists to compare the severity of greenhouse gasses based on how much heat they can trap, and how long they remain in the atmosphere. By using carbon dioxide for each comparison, a larger GWP number, the more a gas warms the earth, and contributes to climate change.

Look for GWP data on Environmental Product Declarations, and learn more about interpreting these numbers at http://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/understanding-global-warming-potentials.

GreenScreen

short for “GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals”, a chemical disclosure and assessment standard  developed by Clean Production Action to rank chemicals along a four point scale between the most toxic chemicals and the most benign to guide substitution efforts.

HPD

also known as Health Product Declaration. It is a standardized format that allows manufacturers to share contents of their products, including any hazardous chemicals.

HPD-1

status marked for products that have a Health Product Declaration with full ingredient and hazard listings and a hazard translator with a disclosure threshold of 1000 or 100 ppm; can contain LT-1 scored components

HPD-2

status marked for products that have a Health Product Declaration with full ingredient and hazard listings and a hazard translator with a disclosure threshold of 1000 or 100 ppm; can NOT contain LT-1 scored components

HPD-Partial

status marked for products that have a Partial Health Product Declaration and have characterization of hazards and hazard translator for ingredients; exceptions are acceptable with a disclosure threshold of 1000 ppm

Hazard

Hazard is an intrinsic property of a substance – its potential to harm humans or some part of the environment based on its physical structure and properties. We can assess the hazard of a chemical or material by reviewing the scientific evidence for the specific kinds of harm that a substance can cause (often called the endpoints), such as damage to the human reproductive system, or the onset of asthma. On HomeFree, hazards are displayed with a color indicating the level of concern for each one. Purple is the highest level of concern, followed by red, and then orange.

Because very few products on the market are made with ingredients that have no hazards, you should expect to see hazards called out, even for products that are considered healthier options. The trick is to compare hazards between products, and whenever possible, prefer the product with fewer hazards.

Health Endpoint

A disease symptom or related marker of a health impact on a human or other organism. Examples of human health endpoints include carcinogenicity (causes cancer), reproductive and developmental toxicity, respiratory sensitization, etc. Health endpoints are due to the inherent hazards of a substance, and are determined by authoritative bodies, such as the US EPA or the National Institutes of Health.

Information Request Sent

this means that an email letter has been sent to the manufacturer requesting information about a specific product. This IR may ask the manufacturer to share HPD type data, a GreenScreen Assessment, or a C2C certification in order to meet Google’s Healthy Materials criteria

Intentional Content

each discrete chemical, polymer, metal, bio-based material, or other substance added to the product by the manufacturer or supplier that exists in the product as delivered for final use requires its own line entry and must account for over 99% of the total product. To add content you may enter it by using a CAS registry number, chemical name, abbreviations, common/ trade names, genus/species (for biobased materials), product or manufacturer name (for components)

Inventory

list of product contents, ingredients

Lifecycle

In biology, the term “lifecycle” describes the arc an organism undergoes from birth, through stages of growth and development, to its death. When applied to building products, “lifecycle”describes the arc that chemicals or materials take from the extraction of the raw materials needed for their creation, through their synthesis and inclusion in a building product, the period of time that the product is installed in a building, its eventual removal from the building, and its disposal/reuse/recycling at the end of its useful life. Products (and the chemicals and materials used to make them) often present human and environmental health hazards at any step in this lifecycle.

Material Health

listing the ingredients and present chemical hazards of a product and optimizing towards safer materials

Mutagen

Can cause or increase the rate of mutations, which are changes in the genetic material in cells. This can result in cancer and birth defects.

Optimization

the absence of any “chemicals of concern” in the product/material formulation.

Ozone Depletion

Can contribute to chemical reactions that destroy ozone in the earth’s upper atmosphere.

PBTs

Persistent, Bio-accumulative Toxicants; these are chemicals that are toxic, persist in the environment, bioaccumulate in the food chains, and consequently pose risks to the human health and environment

Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxicant (PBT)

Does not break down readily from natural processes, accumulates in organisms, concentrating as it moves up the food chain, and is harmful in small quantities.

Portico

formerly known as the Healthy Materials Tool; is a new portal for entering and accessing building  product data. Portico is a database that allows project teams unparalleled access to a vast selection of building products. Portico automatically screens manufacturer product information so that products are available in front of Google’s design teams right away.

Predicted from Process Chemistry

Fully disclosed projected residuals based on process chemistry. This option is suggested for manufacturers without the capability of measuring actual residuals. Indicate the tool or other basis for prediction in the Disclosure Notes. The HBN Pharos tool is an example of a tool that predicts potential residuals.

Publish

share HPD information solely to Google, not to general public. If public, please share public URL in the transparency section

Reproductive Toxicant

Can disrupt the male or female reproductive systems, changing sexual development, behavior or functions, decreasing fertility, or resulting in loss of a fetus during pregnancy.

Residual Content

the by-product of a reaction of two or more chemicals that are used in the manufacturing process; known as trace substances remaining in the product from manufacturing steps (such as monomers and catalysts) or contaminants that come with raw materials. Residuals can be known from testing as well as estimated from process chemistry assessment. Predicted from Process Chemistry definition noted above.

Respiratory Sensitization/Asthmagen

Can result in high sensitivity such that small quantities trigger asthma, rhinitis, or other allergic reactions in the respiratory system. This can can exacerbate current asthma as well as cause the disease of asthma.

Screening

review contents against authoritative chemical hazard lists. Health Product Declaration standard uses screening as a pathway to understand and assess products for any human health hazard endpoints.

Self-declared

a product disclosure and screening/assessment which is created “in-house” by the manufacturer of the product, and does not utilize a third party assessor.

Third Party Assessor

an independent assessment body which is not affiliated with the manufacturer or the product.

Tint

Tints are a mix of pigments and other ingredients that give paints their distinct color. These tints can be a substantial source of VOC content in addition to whatever VOCs are in the paint itself. Darker and richer colors will tend to be higher in VOC content. Some manufacturers have developed low or zero VOC tint lines that can be used to insure that a low VOC paint product remains so even in dark or rich colors.

Transparency

the level of product/material formulation information (including ingredients names and associated hazards) being shared by the manufacturer with the end users (i.e. public, third party, Google).  Portico’s transparency category gives points to manufacturers who share product information (HPD) publicly rather than just to Google.

VOC

Volatile Organic Compound

VOC Content

provide the regulatory VOC content  for liquid/wet applied product in g/L; if the VOC content has not been third party certified and there is no standard for the product, indicate “none” on the VOC content line. If the product is not wet applied, indicate N/A

VOC Emission

emissions testing and certification for any product for which the current version of the CDPH (CA Department of Public Health) Standard Method provides emission scenarios

VOCs

Volatile organic compounds (VOC) means any compound of carbon (excluding carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, metallic carbides or carbonates, and ammonium carbonate), which react in the atmosphere in the presence of sunlight.

Verification

assessments verified by an independent, third party assessor, in compliance with specific requirements pertaining to the standard at hand.

Zero VOC

5 g/L cutoff threshold recognized by SCAQMD for products that are Zero VOC

ppm

parts per million (1,000 ppm = 0.1%; 100 ppm = 0.01%).

(Source: https://homefree.healthybuilding.net/glossary)

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,

FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook