ClearChem Program Elements
ClearChem™ facilitates the creation of transparent, self-declared environmental claims for interior building products. The ClearChem program encompasses three elements: ClearChem Standard BkA-CC-01, the ClearChem Self-Declaration, and the ClearChem Product Registry.
- The ClearChem Standard BkA-CC-01 specifies the procedures and requirements for making self-declared claims regarding the volatile organic compound (“VOC”) emissions and, if applicable, the VOC content of products used in the construction and finishing of building interiors. The ClearChem Standard follows the guidance of international standard ISO 14021: 1999, Environmental Labels and Self-Declarations – Self-declared environmental claims (Type II Environmental Labeling).
- The ClearChem Self-Declaration of Product Conformity is a standardized template used to make self-declared, single-attribute claims about VOC emissions and VOC content of a company’s products. The Self-Declaration facilitates the communication of information needed for informed product selections by building owners, architects, specifiers, contractors, and other professionals.
- The ClearChem Registry is an on-line, publicly accessible database, which serves as a platform for companies that wish to publish their Self-Declarations and make information about the environmental performance of their products readily available to their customers and other interested parties.
The ClearChem™ name, associated logo, and the ClearChem program are owned and overseen by Berkeley Analytical Associates, LLC (dba Berkeley Analytical). Use of the ClearChem name and associated logo is subject to all applicable federal laws governing the use of trademarks.
Berkeley Analytical’s customers that have conducted compliance testing following the CDPH Standard Method are eligible to participate and use the ClearChem declaration provided the product category is covered by the ClearChem Standard. Each participating company has agreed in writing to follow the requirements and procedures in ClearChem Standard BkA-CC-01.
Role of Self-Declared Environmental Claims
The USGBC LEED v4 Standard permits and promotes the use of first-party claims for demonstrating compliance of products to the requirements of EQ Credit: Low-Emitting Materials. USGBC has leveled the playing field by holding both companies and product certification bodies to the same requirements for product testing, conformity assessment and documentation of claims.
The use of self-declared environmental claims makes sense in today’s global manufacturing environment. There are many manufacturing variables with respect to formulation, production processes, suppliers, plant locations, etc. Companies clearly know more about these factors than certification bodies and other outsiders. And because markets are fiercely competitive, companies reveal proprietary information to outsiders at their own peril. By making self-declared claims based on testing, product knowledge and quality control, companies are taking full responsibility for the compliance of products they introduce into commerce.
The ClearChem Standard BkA-CC-01 specifically focuses on claims related to the emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from products that are used to construct and finish buildings interiors. In the U.S., the most cited and used standard for the testing and assessment of products for VOC emissions is CDPH Standard Method V1.2 (supersedes CDPH Standard Method V1.1 and often referred to as California Section 01350). The CDPH Standard is specifically required to qualify products for the Indoor Environmental Quality Low-Emitting Material credit of USGBC’s LEED v4 building rating system.
The ClearChem Standard emphasizes product testing as the means for demonstrating that VOC emissions are compliant with CDPH Standard Method V1.2. Each ClearChem claim is backed by a laboratory test of a representative product sample. For a direct product claim, this is a full, 14-day compliance test following the CDPH Standard. Claims also may be made for closely related products. ClearChem restricts the group size including the primary product to a maximum of five (5) products, no exceptions. In order to create extended claims, the company must conduct a screening level test for each product in the group. This test has the same 14-day time point and measures the same target VOCs as the compliance test. For transparency, the ClearChem Self Declaration for each extended claim identifies the laboratory test certificate number for the primary product in the group.
The ClearChem Standard also requires manufacturing quality control following the guidance of Chapter 8 of the CDPH standard. A company using the standard is required to maintain a documented quality control system that is adequate for ensuring that manufactured units consistently meet the acceptance criteria for VOC emissions and, if applicable, VOC content.
ClearChem Standard BkA-CC-01 is available for free download. Input on the standard from stakeholders is welcome and will be considered in future development of the standard.
ClearChem Self Declaration
One of the main handicaps for first-party claims for low-emitting materials has been the lack of a standardized format for documenting conformity. Standardization is particularly important for claims related to VOC emissions because the underlying standards are technically complex. ClearChem provides a solution. Participating companies use an on-line form to create Self Declaration certificates that meet, point-by-point, the requirements of CDPH Standard Method V1.2 and the USGBC LEED credit language. Because the certificates are well organized and transparent, project reviewers can quickly determine that requirements have been met.
ClearChem Product Registry
ClearChem maintains a registry of the participating companies’ Self Declarations. The purpose of this registry is to provide architects, specifiers and other professionals with the documentation needed to earn indoor environmental quality credits for low-emitting materials in the major high-performance building rating systems – USGBC’s LEED® v4, WELL, Green Globes, Green Guide for Healthcare, and CHPS. A Self Declaration that accurately reflects the compliance status of a product can be listed on the Registry for a period of two years from the date of the underlying product test. However, a certificate does not contain an expiration date and may be used by a company after the two-year listing period as it is the property of the company, which is solely responsible for its continued validity.