The Healthy Heart of Texas

Bill Walsh | July 16, 2013 | Newsletter

As I hit the road for Dallas last week I realized that this year I will travel to Texas more often than any other state to speak about healthy building materials.  In April I was pleased to participate in HKS’s Green Week.  This fall I will be part of a Houston event sponsored by the local USGBC chapter.  Is the Texas green building movement defining the leading edge of healthy building practice?

Those who joined me at the July 11th North Texas Sustainability Showcase just might think so. 

The theme of this year’s showcase, presented by the local chapters of the AIA, USGBC and CSI, was healthy building materials.  Given the recent ratification of LEED v4, including its new credits rewarding product transparency and chemical avoidance, the conference was well-timed and highly topical.  It was also in–depth and of a quality that rivaled national events such as Greenbuild, and deep green conferences such as Living Future unConference.  

In a testament to elegant design, exhibit tables lined the presentation hall, allowing product manufacturers the, ahem, opportunity, to attend all of the presentations on chemical hazards and product transparency initiatives.  Without leaving their displays, they watched first hand as their customers led the transformation to the age of product transparency.

Conference organizers may not have realized it, but they kicked off the event with a green building movement “first;” an opening plenary session that featured just myself and two product manufacturers.  I’ve never shared a platform alone with product manufacturers, and similar sessions have been proposed and rejected by conferences-which-shall-not-be-named.  I was honored to collaborate along side two long-time leaders in product transparency and innovation, Lisa Britton of Alpar Architectural and Howard Williams of Construction Specialties, Inc. Our opening session personified the improved industry dialogue that is being driven by the transparency movement, with successful manufacturers leading by example, through innovation, toward healthier and more sustainable products.

Throughout the day, speakers on a variety of topics demonstrated both a deep commitment to healthy building materials, and an in-depth knowledge of the tools available to practitioners who share this commitment.   Texas might not (yet!) rival the Bay Area or the Pacific Northwest when it comes to overall green building statistics – making these healthy building pioneers all the more impressive, and our commitment at HBN to support them all the stronger…  even if it means leaving my Vermont home base for the enjoyment of a 100-degree day in Dallas!