Spotlight Blog

Sustainable By Design: Declare and the Living Building Challenge

Apr 26, 2022 | Products, Tech Corner

By TLA Staff

Passion and expertise are two traits that our outstanding TLA department managers have in common. Here to share her passion for and expertise on the Declare Label and The Living Building Challenge is TLA’s Inside Lighting Sales Manager Kathryn Lovda.

Kathryn has a strong background in green building and sustainability. Previously, Kathryn worked for the U.S. Green Building Council where she managed LEED and green building educational programming. Today, she keeps tabs on various building certification programs and their impact on lighting and is TLA’s resident expert on sustainability in lighting.

For the last decade, the construction and lighting industries have been overtaken by sustainability-driven building certifications due to local green building ordinances.

LEED, WELL, SITES, FitWell, Green Globes, CHPS, Living Building Challenge – just to name a few. This list keeps growing, and as we evolve as a society and climate change becomes more and more of a reality, subject matter experts up the standards within each building certification program through new, stricter versions. One topic I have been hearing about from clients is the Declare Label.

Clients often ask, “What ambient linears does The Lighting Agency offer that meet the LBC Red List Free level under the Declare Label?”

What exactly is the Declare Label and how do lighting products fall into this certification program? Let’s jump right in!

Declare and the Living Building Challenge

The Living Building Challenge (LBC) is a sustainability building certification program created and maintained by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI).

The LBC standard is one of the most rigorous of all building certification programs as it requires net-zero energy, waste, and water in every project.

The standard’s main goal is to provide symbiosis between people and the built environment by providing a detailed framework for design and construction of a new or existing building (https://www.hourigan.group/blog/understanding-living-building-challenge-petals/).  LBC is comprised of seven categories, aka “Petals”. These “Petals” include Place, Water, Energy, Health & Happiness, Materials, Equity, and Beauty.

The Declare Label lives within the Materials Petal:

Living buildings challenge petals imperatives

Materials petal and declare

The intent of the Materials petal is to create an economy and environment where materials are non-toxic, ecologically restorative, and transparent. Imperatives in this petal aim to remove the worst known offending materials and practices and to drive business toward a responsible economy (LBC Handbook).

When a project registers under the Living Building Challenge, it must meet certain imperatives, or criteria, under each petal. In the Materials Petal, per the LBC Handbook, all projects must meet the following criteria regarding the Declare Label:

  • An LBC project must contain one Declare label product per 200 square meter of gross building area, or project area, whichever is smaller, up to twenty distinct products from five manufacturers. All other product manufacturers not currently in Declare must, at a minimum, receive a letter requesting they disclose their ingredients and identify any Red List content.
  • All LBC projects must avoid the following Red List chemical classes in 90% of the project’s new materials by cost. “In situ” materials do not need to be removed or vetted for Red List chemical classes.

 

The Declare label

Declare is a voluntary self-disclosure program. Products with a Declare label allow environmentally friendly manufacturers to showcase their products and demonstrate market leadership through product transparency (Declare Manufacturer’s Guide).

Products are not just limited to lighting fixtures, but even flooring, furniture, paint, etc.

All products entering the Declare program are third-partied assessed. Product transparency is shown through a Declare Label, almost like an ingredient label for building products.

 

A lighting fixture, or any product, will be given a Declaration status. There are three status tiers:

  1. “Red List Free” product ingredients are 100% disclosed to 100 ppm and do not contain any Red List chemicals. They have been shown to meet the Materials Petal requirements of the Living Building Challenge and, if applicable, emissions testing criteria for the Health + Happiness Petal.
  2. “LBC Compliant” products meet the written requirements of the Living Building Challenge but rely on one or more Exceptions (see appendix B) to demonstrate compliance. Product ingredients are, at minimum, 99% disclosed to 100 ppm and/or may contain one or more Red List chemicals that fall under an existing, published LBC Exception. They have been shown to meet the Materials Petal requirements of the Living Building Challenge and, if applicable, emissions testing criteria for the Health + Happiness Petal.
  3. “Declared” product ingredients are 100% disclosed to 100 ppm but contain one or more Red List chemicals that are not covered by an existing Exception. Additionally, applicable products that do not meet emissions testing criteria are considered “Declared”. “Declared” labels require additional product research and vetting to locate a fully compliant product before the “Declared” product may be used on a Living Building Challenge project.

ILFI has a Declare Database of products. Many of The Lighting Agency’s products are in this database.

Product spotlight

Below are a few of my favorite products The Lighting Agency offers that are LBC Red List Free or LBC Red List Approved.

Rich Brilliant William’s Crisp and Dimple Sconces

TLA declare label RBW crisp dimple sconce

Declare page

RBW’s Crisp and Dimple Sconces stand out due to their decorative form and design simplicity, both aesthetically and technologically. They are also assembled in Brooklyn, New York.

My favorite part: life expectancy is at least 25 years, and at the end of its life, 97% of this product can be recycled.

 

TLA Declare RBW crisp dimple sconce context

Vode’s Adaptive Architectural Lighting Systems

TLA Declare label Vode

Declare page

In my opinion, Vode is our most sustainability-driven manufacturer, if not, then one of them. Vode prioritizes sustainability for all its products. This product is completely recyclable at the end of its life.

 

TLA Declare RMS Iverness context

My favorite part of Vode? Their entire product offering is LBC Red List Approved.

 

Prudential Pendant Aluminum Luminaires

TLA Declare pendant luminaires prudential lighting

Declare Page

Prudential has multiple products that are LBC Red List Approved. Most of their aluminum luminaires (pendants, surface, recessed and linears) are approved.

At the end of their lives, roughly 95% of this product can be recycled.

 

TLA Declare prudential lighting context

Focal Point 9mm PET Felt (non-lit acoustics only)

TLA Declare label focal point

Declare Page

Focal Point steals the show with their acoustical offerings. Their creativity with sound absorption has grown exponentially with form factors and incorporated lit elements into their felt materials.

 

TLA Declare Seem1 Acoustic Trio TieredSeating

 

My favorite part of the Focal Point? All their felt materials are LBC Red List Free (a step up from LBC Red List Approved!), life expectancy is at least 30 years, and is 100% recyclable at the end of its life!

 

TLA Declare Prudential in Context

TLA Declare Prudential in Context

 

More popular products

While I have only highlighted a few of my favorite manufacturers and their Red List and Declare status offerings, The Lighting Agency has many more program listed luminaires, including these popular products:

Vode Ulo (LBC Red List Approved Status)

Prudential Linear Aluminum Luminaires (LBC Red List Approved Status)

Prudential Steel Pendant/Recessed Luminaires (LBC Red List Approved Status)

Healthcare Lighting Linear Product Category 1 (Declared Status)

Lithonia Lighting Linear Product Category 1 (Declared Status)

Mark Architectural Lighting Linear Product Category 1 (Declared Status)

Mark Architectural Lighting Linear Product Category 2 (Declared Status)

Mark Architectural Lighting Linear Product Category 3 (Declared Status)

Mark Architectural Lighting Linear Product Category 4 (Declared Status)

Mark Architectural Lighting Non-Linear Category 1 (Declared Status)

Peerless Lighting Linear Product Category 1 (Declared Status)

Peerless Lighting Linear Product Category 2 (Declared Status)

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