Blogs

Take an inside look into emerging markets and trends. Gain valuable new perspectives from HBN experts and our partners. Be inspired to know better.

Tools You Can Use: HomeFree Specifications for Healthier Paint and Flooring

HBN | February 2020 | Newsletter

If you’re an architect, specification writer, or developer and you want to specify healthier paint and flooring materials, the new HomeFree Specifications can help. HBN developed specification language in editable Word documents organized according to MasterFormat® standard divisions. In addition to drop-in specification language, the Specifications also provide examples of products that meet the spec requirements. Lauren Zullo, Director of Environmental Impact at Jonathan Rose Companies says, “The HomeFree Specifications are really clear documents that my team can pass along to our various architects and general contractors to help provide the reasoning behind WHY we’re asking for what we’re asking for, in terms of healthier materials. It not only helps increase awareness, but allows design teams to make more informed decisions with value engineered product selection.”


Petrochemical Companies are Burying Black History. The Building Industry Can Help Resurrect It.

Bill Walsh | February 2020 | Newsletter

In Louisiana, the factories that make the chemicals and plastics for our building products are built literally upon the bones of African Americans. Plantation fields have been transformed into industrial fortresses. A Shell Refinery1 sprawls across the former Bruslie and Monroe plantations. Belle Pointe is now the DuPont Pontchartrain Works, among the most toxic air polluters in the state.2 Soon, the Taiwan-based Formosa Plastics Group intends to build a 2400-acre complex of 14 facilities that will transform fracked gas into plastics. It will occupy land that was formerly the Acadia and Buena Vista plantations, and not incidentally, the ancestral burial grounds of local African American residents, some of whom trace their lineage back to people enslaved there.3 Virtually every building product we use today contains a petrochemical component that originates from heavily polluted communities, frequently home to people of color. As the green building movement searches for ways to enhance diversity, inclusion and equity, how might it address the legacies of injustice that are tied to the products and materials we use every day?


Picking a Safer Paint is Easier Than You Think

HBN | January 2020 | Newsletter

Selecting the right paint for your project can be challenging and identifying a paint that reduces your exposure to toxic chemicals on top of that can be even more daunting. The good news is that transformation continues to happen in the paint market, providing developers, architects, and consumers more options for choosing less toxic paint products. Moreover, at Healthy Building Network (HBN), we continue working with our partners to help simplify the process of selecting a safer paint. 


HBN Helps Guide New Green Communities Materials Criteria

HBN | January 2020 | Newsletter

Enterprise Community Partners has just released the next generation of their Green Communities Criteria. The only national green building standard designed specifically for affordable housing projects, the Enterprise Green Communities Criteria has a major impact on how affordable housing properties are constructed. HBN is proud to have contributed to the development of the new 2020 Green Communities Criteria. Krista Egger, senior director of initiatives at Enterprise Community Partners, acknowledged HBN’s contribution, saying, "Significant improvements were made to the Materials section of the Green Communities standard thanks to the leadership of HBN."


New LEED Circularity Pilot Credit Incorporates HBN Optimize Recycling Research

Teresa McGrath | January 2020 | Newsletter

A circular economy is an essential  strategy to reach carbon reduction goals, reduce waste, and reduce the impact of resource extraction. Use of recycled content can also re-introduce legacy chemicals of concern into new products. By knowing where recycled content is coming from and testing for common contaminants of concern, we can encourage a safer and circular economy, while increasing the value of beneficial recycled feedstocks. A new pilot credit in LEED rewards project teams that use “safe & circular” products. 


The Best Climate Action Plans Include This...

HBN | December 2019 | Newsletter

Current climate action plans are bold, they are necessary, they feel impossible, and they are coming into the consciousness of all concerned (and unconcerned), decades after the early reports should have been taken seriously. At this point, there is an urgency because people are experiencing the effects of a warming planet (storms, fires, rising tides, health impacts from warmer temperatures, etc.). 


Embodied Carbon and Climate Justice: Confluence or Conflict?

HBN | December 2019 | Newsletter

Two important initiatives are gaining momentum in the green building movement. One seeks to reduce the embodied carbon of building products. The other seeks to increase inclusion, diversity and equity in the green building industry, addressing, in the words of the LEED “Social Equity” Pilot Credit, “social equity from the perspective of everyone who is touched or impacted by a building.”1 It is critical that these efforts align their goals lest, once again, the latest definition and marketing of “green” building products overlooks and overrides the interests of the front line communities most impacted by both climate change and toxic pollution.


Five Reasons Why Climate Change and Toxic Chemicals are Connected

HBN | December 2019 | Newsletter

If we say climate change, what is the first thing that pops into your head? It’s probably not the impact of toxic chemicals on the environment. Some people can probably name a chemical that contributes to climate change, whether that is carbon dioxide or methane. But what about other chemicals that you are not as familiar with? In the building materials world, these may include fluorinated blowing agents used in some foam insulation. The agents either have high global warming potential (GWP) or use chemicals in their production that have high GWP.[1] Another example is the release of the toxic, global warming, and ozone-depleting chemical carbon tetrachloride in the enormous supply chain of vinyl products, otherwise known as Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC).[2] Purveyors of vinyl products, you may unwittingly be contributing to global warming!