Empowering AEC: Healthy Building Network and mindful MATERIALS’ Aligned Approach to Sustainable Material Selection

HBN | November 02, 2023 | Announcements

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Shared Mission

Healthy Building Network (HBN) and mindful MATERIALS (mM) are working together to align Informed™ with the Common Materials Framework (CMF), accelerating our collective mission to empower the AEC industry in the selection of healthier materials. It is critical that these tools and organizational approaches are understood as complementary and collaborative.

The industry has been working to scale sustainable materials development and usage for over 20 years, if not longer. Though progress has been made, the urgency of this time demands swifter action. To rapidly scale the use and development of products that support a more sustainable future. We believe the following items are all required to rapidly scale the use and development of products that support a more sustainable future:

  • Build industry-wide consensus that material sustainability must be addressed holistically. (E.g. that it is important to choose low-carbon products that are also optimized for human health — because who wants a climate-friendly, but toxic future?)
  • Support clear, early decision-making on material types. By the time we get down to product selection, designers are often past the point of being able to make the most impactful decisions for health and sustainability. Decision-making should leverage research by independent scientists to provide overarching guidance on product types, agnostic of specific manufacturers.
  • Recognize and adopt a unified framework for organizing and understanding product-specific sustainability data. Once material types have been chosen, there are important product-specific decisions to be made to ensure that designers are able to make values-aligned selections. A common data foundation will finally enable the industry to get and stay on the same page.

Complementary Approach

Materials Selection: Using HBN’s product screening approach, Informed™, project teams can vet classes of products for their alignment with rigorous and scientific material health criteria. Informed™ provides an easier way to quickly identify and pursue product types that meet material health criteria and deprioritize product types that have been deemed by HBN’s research as the most harmful to people and the planet throughout the product supply chain.

Product Selection: Once a product type is selected using Informed™, teams can use mM’s Common Materials Framework (CMF) to identify specific manufacturers and products that align with each project’s unique needs. Instead of individually redefining sustainability factors, the CMF provides the industry with a central, common way to talk about and act on product sustainability. The Framework will also act as connective tissue for sustainability data between all major data and project management platforms, enabling continuous flow of data and consistent representation of holistic sustainability data no matter where product decisions are made.

Powerful Partnership

HBN has always been the movement’s trusted science partner and will continue to play this role, directionally guiding decision-making on materials. mM tools, on the other hand, do not critique the health or toxicity of products, but rather focus on creating and disseminating a common language to demystify myriad product disclosures and certifications. Pairing the rigorous guidance of Informed™ with the common language of the CMF creates an efficient, trusted, and powerful way to confidently select safer building materials and products that align with company-specific and industry-wide goals.