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Take an inside look into emerging markets and trends. Gain valuable new perspectives from HBN experts and our partners. Be inspired to know better.

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.

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. 

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.

HomeFree Campus: Online Classes for Selecting Healthier, Affordable Products

HBN | April 2019 | Newsletter

Are you constructing or remodeling a space and want to learn why and how to select healthier products? Healthy Building Network is excited to announce the launch of the HomeFree Campus, an online education resource that provides simple, science-based information that can help you select affordable, healthier materials. 

Learning with HomeFree will support you and your team in the following ways:

  • Building core awareness and understanding — why do healthy materials matter for you, your residents, installers, and the environment?
  • Providing guidance for selecting healthier building products; know what to ask.

The Next Challenge in Indoor Air Quality: SVOCs

HBN | April 2019 | Newsletter

Concerns about indoor air quality are as old as the republic. Benjamin Franklin and John Adams are said to have argued the relative merits of sleeping with open windows in 1776. A century later, their institutional progeny at the US Environmental Protection Agency sided more or less with Franklin after studying Sick Building Syndrome concluding that “most indoor air pollution comes from sources inside the building.” Building materials led the EPA list of culprits. Today, as New Yorker contributor Nicola Twilley recounts in the most engaging article you will ever read about hydroxyl radicals (“Pac Man of the atmosphere”), research capabilities are so sophisticated that it is possible to isolate with scientific precision the impact on indoor air quality of toasting bread or a squeeze of lime. Still, among the most elusive indoor air contaminants after all these years are a subclass of chemicals known as semi-volatile organic compounds - SVOCs  - chemicals that can’t be “controlled” with better ventilation. 

Lauren Heine Joins MaterialWise, Enhancing Science, Data and Collaboration Capabilities

HBN | April 2019 | Newsletter

Dr. Lauren Heine has joined MaterialWise as Director of Safer Materials & Data Integrity. A pioneering leader in the field of green chemistry, Heine brings decades of experience and leadership in green chemistry and engineering, alternatives assessment and multi-stakeholder collaboration which will accelerate MaterialWise’s efforts to enable a prosperous, toxic-free future for people, the planet and commerce.

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.

Newly Completed Inventory of Chlorine & PVC Production Sheds New Light on Supply Chain Challenges

Teresa McGrath and Jim Vallette | March 2019 | Newsletter

Demand from the building industry now drives the production of chlorine, the key ingredient of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) widely used in pipes, siding, roofing membranes, wall covering, flooring, and carpeting. Chlorine is also an essential feedstock for epoxies used in adhesives and flooring topcoats, and for polyurethane used in insulation and flooring.  On March 19, 2019, the Healthy Building Network will release Phase 2 of its landmark report on chlorine-based plastics that are widely used in common building and construction products. The report, “​Chlorine and Building Materials: A Global Inventory of Production Technologies, Markets, and Pollution. Phase 2: Asia,”​ completes HBN’s global analysis of the industry.  

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.