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New Resource for Specifying Healthier Insulation and Sealants

Rebecca Stamm | March 2019 | Newsletter

Healthy Building Network, along with Energy Efficiency for All (EEFA), has released “Guidance for Specifying Healthier Insulation and Air-Sealing Materials,” a new resource to help those working in multifamily energy efficiency upgrades make healthier material choices.

AIA Code of Ethics Now Includes Healthier, More Sustainable Materials

Rebecca Stamm | December 2018 | Newsletter

The American Institute of Architects (AIA), a professional association for architects, recently made several additions to its Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct with the intention of improving sustainability and decreasing the health impacts of materials. The new code, which outlines the tenets of ethical behavior by all AIA members, states that “members should select and use building materials to minimize exposure to toxins and pollutants in the environment to promote environmental and human health and to reduce waste and pollution.”

In addition to these ethical standards, which guide the work of AIA chapters and  members (numbering over 260 and over 91,000, respectively), the organization offers a step-by-step protocol for setting healthier materials goals that educates members on design and implementation best practices. We applaud the AIA for including consideration of material health impacts as a tenet of ethical behavior. We look forward to providing continued guidance to the architecture and design communities as they work with their clients to make product choices that are healthier for all people and the planet.

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Paint Companies to Pay $400 Million for Lead Paint Clean-up

Rebecca Stamm | November 2018 | Newsletter

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of paint companies in a California case where the state appeals court ordered Sherwin-Williams, NL Industries, and Conagra to pay about $400 million for the cleanup of lead paint in old homes. Several cities and counties in California brought the suit, saying that the companies and their trade associations promoted lead paint well after they knew it was harmful. “This is a very significant victory for the tens of thousands of California children who have been poisoned by lead paint,” said Greta S. Hansen, a Santa Clara County lawyer.

Santa Clara brought the lawsuit on behalf of 10 cities and counties including San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles. The decision serves as an important reminder to manufacturers of the need to understand the contents and associated hazards of their products and to be transparent about those hazards to customers. Because of the argument used in this case, the ramifications may well extend beyond building products.

Careful Insulation Selection and Installation Can Protect R-Value and Health

Rebecca Stamm | October 2018 | Newsletter

Proper techniques and protection are necessary during the installation of insulation to achieve optimal product performance, but also to protect the health of workers and residents. Because incorrect installation can lead to compromised performance and safety, it’s critical to carefully follow installation protocols for any product. Most product literature suggests the use of some level of personal protective equipment (PPE) when installing insulation products, but the level of protection required varies widely among different types of insulation. Because the most effective way to avoid hazardous exposure is to eliminate hazardous chemicals altogether, the controls currently recommended by the SPF industry provide the lowest tiers of protection. In this article, you’ll find background on installation considerations for fiber glass, cellulose, and spray foam insulation.

Just Released: These Healthier Insulations and Sealants Also Improve Energy Efficiency

Rebecca Stamm | September 2018 | Newsletter

Addressing concerns that some insulation products contain and emit unhealthy chemicals, HBN is proud to release “Making Affordable Multifamily Housing More Energy Efficient: A Guide to Healthier Upgrade Materials.” Developed as part of our collaborative effort with the Energy Efficiency for All (EEFA) initiative and other partners working to improve energy efficiency in affordable, multifamily housing, the new report contains recommendations that provide actionable value across building sectors.

The report features HBN’s materials research and provides important recommendations anyone can use to improve energy efficiency while reducing toxic chemical exposures to workers, residents, and the environment. Our research highlights chemicals of concern commonly found in insulation and sealants, suggests healthier material options for weatherization programs, and provides information and inspiration for anyone interested in healthier product options.

Beware the Hidden Ozone Depleter: Upstream Impacts of Blowing Agents

Rebecca Stamm | August 2018 | Newsletter

As noted in HBN’s new Chlorine and Building Materials report, chlorine production is a major source of releases of carbon tetrachloride, a potent global warming and ozone depleting gas as well as a carcinogen. As this report reminds us, it’s important to consider not only the use-phase impacts of building products, but the entire life cycle, including primary chemical production that’s several steps back from final product manufacture. In our 2017 comments to the EPA, HBN uncovered another link to ozone depleting carbon tetrachloride in building products – one you might not expect – use in the production of low global warming potential blowing agents.

California Steps Toward Healthier Carpet

Rebecca Stamm | July 2018 | Newsletter

In our 2017 report, Eliminating Toxics in Carpet: Lessons for the Future of Recycling, HBN identified toxic chemicals and materials that are commonly found in carpet. We also outlined pathways to optimize these products for lower health impacts and improved recyclability. Ensuring the use of materials with lower toxicity and designing carpet for recyclability is key for California to responsibly reach its mandate of doubling the rate of carpet recycling by 2020. Several recent steps in California show promise in this optimization process.

Optimizing Recycling of Flexible Polyurethane Foam

Rebecca Stamm | April 11, 2016 | Materials

Flexible polyurethane foam (FPF) is found in nearly all upholstered furniture and mattresses, in car seats, and in carpet cushion. About 600,000 tons are incorporated into products purchased in the United States each year.[2] From 1975 until 2014, the open flame requirement of California TB 117 HBN GRAPHIC BASED ON CARPET CUSHION COUNCIL AND CALR...