Navigating the array of third-party green-product certification groups can be a challenge for product manufacturers seeking to disclose material information and for specifiers looking for the most appropriate products for a project.

A new, cross-disciplinary task force announced today aims to fix that by streamlining the processes of content inventory, list screening, and full-hazard assessment among green-product certification programs. Called the Harmonization Task Group, it includes representatives from the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (C2CPII), the Healthy Building Network (HBN), the Health Product Declaration (HPD) Collaborative, and Clean Product Action (CPA).

The task group is supported by a grant from the USGBC—allocated from its 2012 $3 million grant from Google—and was established in March 2013, authoring the USGBC’s August 2013 “Material Health Evaluation Programs Harmonization Opportunities Report.” The report featured a study by the C2CPII, CPA, and the HBN of five green-product certification programs: C2CPII’s Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard; CPA’s GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals; the HBN’s Pharos Chemical and Material Library and its Building Product Library; the HPD Collaborative’s Health Product Declaration; and the International Living Future Institute’s Declare.

“We should have one standard for reporting inventory disclosure information, we should have one method for screening, and we should ideally have one method for hazard assessment,” says Stacy Glass, vice president for the built environment at the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. “If [manufacturers] do one inventory for an HPD, they can give that to their C2C assessor. If [a product] goes through a hazard assessment with Green Screen, that information can be used toward their C2C assessment.”

The report found overlap in the type of information collected by each of the five programs and in the lists of hazardous chemicals they ban. Using the report’s recommendations as a basis, Glass says, the task group will create an online portal for information collection and screening. Meanwhile, each member group will aim to align their processes through standard revisions. Glass says the first phase of the portal is expected to launch this fall with the alignment among standards taking between 12 and 18 months. The task force hopes to create a shared hazards database within three years, Glass says.

“[Each program] can excel in its place in the marketplace,” Glass says, “but if the alignment happens, then it will make it easier for manufacturers to move between the tools that are most useful for them at the time.”

Editor's note: This post has been updated to clarify that the Harmonization Task Group was formed in March 2013 and authored the USGBC's August 2013 report.