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.

Quantifying the Impact of Product Choices

HBN | July 2019 | Newsletter

We know intrinsically that hazardous chemicals have the potential to do harm and that they commonly do so throughout a product’s life cycle. For champions of the healthy building cause, that understanding of the precautionary principle is enough. But others still need to be convinced and often want to quantify the impact of a healthy-material program. How can healthy building champions start to talk about and quantify the impacts of material choices?


Take the Transparency Pledge, Lead the Way to Better Health

HBN | July 2019 | Newsletter

Building owners and designers in the affordable housing sector are leading the way to healthier products by taking a pledge to prefer products with full and public ingredient disclosures. HBN’s HomeFree Champions have co-designed both a process and tools to make it easier to achieve transparency. Join these leaders by taking the Transparency Pledge, and ensure that your building is a healthier place!


Five Steps to Selecting and Installing Healthier Products - by Suzanne Drake

HBN | July 2019 | Newsletter

Each year arrives with seemingly more rules and regulations for building design and construction, leaving little to no room or incentive to consider incorporating the concept of “health” into buildings. Suzanne Drake, a Project Designer for WRNS Studio, provides five easy steps for applying healthier materials to projects. As a long-time champion of healthy materials, she bridges the gap between creating beautiful, functional spaces, and those that are healthy. Check out the article to learn more about concrete steps you can take to promote healthy, thriving spaces. 

https://workdesign.com/2019/06/Busing-healthier-materials-from-selection-to-installation/


Could Chemical Exposures Increase Your Chance of Catching a Cold?

HBN | June 2019 | Newsletter

Followers of our work at Healthy Building Network are well-versed in the broad range of impacts that chemical exposures can have on our health. Many chemicals that are common in building materials have been linked to cancer, asthma, and effects on the endocrine system.1 Did you also know that more and more studies suggest links between exposure to certain chemicals and our immune systems’ ability to fight infectious diseases? Or that chemicals may contribute to stronger, more antibiotic-resistant bacteria?


"Tens of Millions of Pounds of Phthalates Annually Eliminated from Vinyl Flooring"

HBN | June 2019 | Newsletter

Phthalates (thay-lates) are chemicals used to make vinyl soft and pliable for uses such as roofing membrane, wall covering and flooring. Healthy Building Network began a campaign to remove these chemicals from building products in our seminal 2002 report, Environmental Impacts of PVC Building materials. In 2005 we reported that researchers had demonstrated a link between a mother’s exposure to phthalates and genital deformities in male offspring. Soon phthalates began to be banned from children’s products, though not building products. In 2014 we published a positive assessment of available Phthalate Free Plasticizers in PVC. The next year, after extensive negotiations with the Mind The Store Campaign, a coalition of environmental health groups including HBN, The Home Depot led the big box industry in banning these chemicals from the vinyl flooring sold at retail. This week these groups announced that independent testing of product on the shelves of The Home Depot, Lowes and Lumber Liquidators has confirmed the successful elimination of these toxic compounds from vinyl flooring sold there. Read More


All Together Now: Class-based Approach to Chemical Regulation Helps Avoid Hazardous Flame Retardants

HBN | June 2019 | Newsletter

For years, Healthy Building Network has championed a class-based approach to chemical regulation because the alternative, regulating chemicals one at a time, often leads to regrettable substitutions. We are excited to report that a recent National Academies of Science report supports this approach towards regulating organohalogen flame retardants, and that we have incorporated their findings into Pharos and the Data Commons.


HBN’s Transformation Targets: A better way to prioritize chemicals of concern.

HBN | May 2019 | Newsletter

We often hear that one of the greatest challenges to architects, designers, and building owners is navigating the plethora of certifications, standards, restricted substances lists (RSLs), and competing priorities. In fact, HBN’s Pharos database identified over 300. Heavy reliance on RSLs can lead to regrettable substitution (a different chemical replacement with the similar or worse toxicity or impacts). HBN took up the challenge, to move beyond the limitations of RSLs, and to help focus the entire industry on one (maybe two) chemical compound groups at a time per product type that are ripe for transformation, and to amplify our collective energies to replace these chemicals with fully disclosed, fully assessed safer alternatives. 


Healthy Building Network Receives 2019 Design for Humanity Award

HBN | May 2019 | Newsletter

Healthy Building Network has been honored as the national 2019 Design for Humanity award recipient from the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). In celebrating an institution for having made significant contributions to improving the environment for humanity through projects that transform lives, this award recognizes the far-reaching impact of HBN’s work.


Research Team Expertise Grows at HBN

HBN | May 2019 | Newsletter

Under the leadership of Teresa McGrath, HBN’s Chief Research Officer, our research team is expanding staff and services. HBN continues to serve as a trusted source of translation and interpretation in the building product industry and beyond. We are more equipped than ever to support informed decision-making for selecting products that contribute to a healthier world.


Emissions from Carpet Tiles Sickens Three Minnesota Workers

HBN | April 2019 | Newsletter

Symptoms of “sick building” syndrome include “headache; eye, nose, or throat irritation; dry cough; dry or itchy skin; dizziness and nausea; difficulty in concentrating; fatigue; and sensitivity to odors”. These symptoms can develop after long-term exposures, or they can occur after a single instance of exposure, as in the case reported by the Minnesota Daily last month. Three carpet installers were sent to the emergency room after installing carpeting in an apartment building intended for student housing near the University of Minnesota. The workers could not tell doctors what they were exposed to because the carpeting did not include a complete list of contents. To find out, the workers first measured the air quality with a device ordered off of Amazon, which immediately “jumped to red” when exposed to the carpeting. The Minneapolis Building and Construction Trade Council then sent carpet samples to a lab for emissions testing. This testing found total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs) at levels that “significantly exceed” typical levels in the air. The chemicals noted on the report included some on the Minnesota Department of Health list of Chemicals of High Concern.