HBN and MaterialWise Join Forces to Advance Healthier Product Innovation

Gina Ciganik | November 2018 | Newsletter

We are proud to announce that Healthy Building Network will serve as the new home for MaterialWise, a project originally initiated by, and recently spun out of, the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (C2C PII). This partnership will accelerate the development of healthier materials and the movement toward green chemistry by increasing the availability of actionable chemical alternative assessments and reaching more business sectors. MaterialWise will operate as an independent project within our organization and will continue to be led by Stacy Glass.

MaterialWise is a chemical management initiative focused on increasing access to high-quality third-party-verified toxicological assessments in the form of alternative assessment portfolios, while making this information more affordable and actionable. This will remove barriers to informed decision-making for all manufacturers. With an innovative precompetitive value chain collaboration model, MaterialWise seeks to provide the evidence base to help avoid regrettable substitutions.

MaterialWise alternative assessment portfolios will advance better chemistry.

Like us, MaterialWise believes, based upon scientific evidence, that the most reliable way to avoid harm (like cancer) is to avoid hazards (like chemicals that may cause cancer). Wherever possible, we must eliminate unnecessary toxic substances from our products and identify the least toxic alternatives for those hazards that cannot yet be eliminated.

Most chemical policies and restricted-substances lists indicate what not to use, but the next question is what to use instead. Without robust, high-quality data, this question cannot be answered, and everyone in the value chain is vulnerable to regrettable substitutions.

This partnership will fuel safer materials and movement toward green chemistry.

We have much in common with MaterialWise, including a commitment to independence and a belief in the power of quality data to transform the material and product landscape. By incubating the project within HBN, we will maximize complementary strengths to further fuel product innovation and green chemistry solutions.

Increasing the Data We All Need

Stakeholders agree that a lack of reliable chemical hazard assessments is the biggest impediment to optimizing products and accelerating green chemistry practices in industry. Only a small number, approximately 150, of GreenScreen assessments are publicly available, and privately commissioned assessments are beyond the reach of most businesses due to cost and competitive concerns. MaterialWise aims to change this with a business model that dramatically scales the number of assessments available, while reducing costs to all stakeholders through precompetitive cost-sharing.

Using our Pharos data to support the screening stage of its platform, MaterialWise ensures its users have access to the highest-quality, most extensive database of known hazards before investing in full hazard assessment information. This advances HBN’s mission and extends the impact of our data tools by better aligning private sector R&D with consumer and regulatory priorities. This collaboration will provide a rich tapestry of data and context to fuel the healthy materials movement, not just in the building industry but in consumer products and apparel, and more.

Reaching More Sectors

HBN has long been recognized as a trusted advisor to healthy materials leaders in the building industry such as Kaiser Permanente, Google, The Home Depot, and Perkins+Will. Our recent subscription research project, which for the first time inventoried the global chlorine supply chain, has demonstrated new opportunities for collaboration with building product manufacturers. What has been less understood is that our Pharos/Data Commons database is not limited to building products and has been used to screen chemical hazards in other business sectors including medical devices, electronics, and cosmetics, to name just a few.

MaterialWise will create new opportunities and pathways for cross-sector collaboration that will accelerate product optimization and green chemistry. It brings existing collaborations with consumer-product industry leaders such as Target, Nike, Levi’s, and Method, and building product manufacturers and customers such as Steelcase and Google, to advance a user-centered approach to designing solutions to common chemistry challenges across functional uses and industry sectors.

These efforts (and more in the planning stages) will strengthen HBN’s ability to continue to serve as an independent, trusted source for information and education on the elimination of toxic chemicals in the built environment and beyond.

The benefits of this alliance will be far-reaching.

We’re proud that MaterialWise has aligned with HBN, and we’re excited to help incubate what is sure to be an invaluable asset to the healthy materials movement. By nurturing the success of MaterialWise alongside our own initiatives, we can do more to ensure the health of all people and our planet.