Declare is a new ratings system for building materials that will make it easy for stakeholders to determine a product's impact on the environment.

Recently introduced to the Australian marketplace by the Living Future Institute of Australia (LFIA) - the local arm of the International Living Future Institute - the Declare label aims to create a healthier supply chain for the building products industry.

Similar to the Heart Foundation Tick and Australian Made logo, the building materials industry will now have its own transparency platform and product database.

Declare is a voluntary self-disclosure program that rates building materials based on ingredient transparency and helps developers, architects, building companies and other stakeholders - including consumers - to understand the environmental impact of a particular building material. The program encourages manufacturers of ecologically-sound products to provide product transparency and to practice toxic chemical avoidance.

LFIA executive director Stephen Choi explains that Declare bridges the knowledge gap that currently exists between industry and consumers in an easy-to-understand yet credible way.

According to Choi, consumers have traditionally had little opportunity to truly engage with the building materials industry. Only the most dedicated consumers have been able to successfully see past marketing hype.

Similar to a food product's nutrition label, Declare lists the ingredients contained in any given building product. As an international initiative currently without precedent, Declare offers a powerful platform to push Australia forward in the world market.

Last month, more than 200 leading designers, developers, and manufacturers attended the official launch of Declare in Melbourne and Sydney. To date, more than 30 products have been registered on the Declare database across Australia and New Zealand. More than 800 products worldwide - including everyday building products such as concrete, flooring, paint and furniture - have been Declared.

To receive a Declare label, manufacturers must answer three questions related to their products: Where does the product come from? What is the product made of? Where does the product go at the end of its life?

On obtaining a Declare label, the product is listed in a 'transparent' database that is simple to understand and free for everyone to access. By providing complex information surrounding chemical analysis and the source of raw materials on an easy-to-use label, Declare facilitates a deeper connection between suppliers, clients and consumers.

Choi adds that Declare is a critical point of entry for project teams pursuing the Living Building Challenge (LBC), the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment possible today.