Reflections on Transparency — or Not

Penny Bonda, FASID, LEED Fellow, HBN Board Member - November 29, 2012

December 10, 2012 marks the end of the latest public comment period for LEED v4, and in particular, for the proposed Materials and Resources credits that reward transparency in material specification and avoidance of chemicals of concern. These are the proposals that prompted the American Chemistry Council, a trade association that spends over $10 million annually to advance its federal lobbying efforts, to target LEED. ACC recently joined with other major industry trade associations to form the American High Performance Building Coalition (AHPBC), a supergroup that is lobbying Congress to demand that GSA eliminate LEED requirements from federal building projects. The ACC accuses USGBC of imposing "arbitrary chemical restrictions" and claims LEED is "becoming a tool to punish chemical companies." This is no small issue and has received press attention in the New York Times, and from my HBN colleague Bill Walsh. With this in mind, I tackled a challenging... Read More

Greenbuild 2012: Rick Fedrizzi Brings It On

Bill Walsh - November 19, 2012

In his Greenbuild 2012 Plenary Address, USGBC President and CEO Rick Fedrizzi spoke with passion to a cheering crowd about the need for transparency in the building industry, noting that "leadership companies are embracing health product declarations and green chemistry." Speaking to the opponents of the proposed chemical disclosure and avoidance credits in LEED® v.4: "They're wrong when they say toxins are a fact of life and that we shouldn't 'fear monger' about their impacts on our kids in their schools, or our families in their homes. They are just wrong. And I'm pretty darned sure that we are right when we say that all of our children and teachers deserve school buildings that will keep them healthy, keep them safe, and help them thrive." The following are excerpts from this important call-to-arms from an American business leader. It's a must read for those of you who did not attend Greenbuild, and a great message for all to... Read More

The Greenbuild EXPO 2012 Transparency Treasure Hunt

Jim Vallette - November 14, 2012

(Click to enlarge) This map reflects positions held as of the start of Greenbuild 2012. These positions may have changed since then. For a more comprehensive and up to date list of Transparency Leaders and Toxics Supporters, visit our Transparency Tour campaign page. SAN FRANCISCO - Anyone missing the excitement of the presidential election can get a recharge by coming here, to the US Green Building Council’s Greenbuild EXPO 2012. A high-stakes political campaign rages around a modest proposal to incorporate a new materials credit in LEED® v4. The proposed Building Product Disclosure and Optimization credit would reward transparency through disclosure of material contents and the avoidance of chemicals of concern. In response, the world’s biggest chemical producers have organized a corporate campaign against not only the credits, but the LEED® system itself. They are even trying to get government officials to to eliminate LEED® from federal... Read More

Greenbuild 2012: The New Normal - Transparency and Healthier Building Products

Bill Walsh - November 9, 2012

Health Product Declaration Open Standard 1.0 Released Today a wide-ranging collaboration of green building industry leaders released Version 1.0 of the Health Product Declaration (HPD) Open Standard Format. For the first time, manufacturers and their customers will have a standard format for the disclosure of contents and associated health information of building products. The HPD Open Standard will soon make full disclosure of product contents the new normal in the building industry. The year-long development process for Version 1.0 has already set a new standard for effective collaboration between manufacturers and their customers. Nearly 30 building products manufacturers participated in an extensive Pilot Program of the draft HPD Open Standard, and 12 manufacturers[1] are Founding Sponsors of the HPD Collaborative, a new non-profit group that will manage the standard. The result is a commitment to product transparency unrivaled in any other business sector. Interface... Read More

Burying the LEED

Bill Walsh - October 25, 2012

USA Today's two-part investigative report on the US Green Building Council documents the growing pains of an innovative experiment by American business, but stops short of shedding light on what is happening behind the scenes as the Council moves forward its most important innovation in a decade. Despite cutthroat opposition from the chemicals and plastics industries, USGBC is now seeking public comment on new credits that will reward both product content disclosure and the avoidance of some recognized chemical hazards. The credits specifically reward the use of the new Health Product Declaration, an unprecedented open standard format for building product disclosure that has already earned widespread support across the building industry, including building products manufacturers. Should these credits be approved by vote of the membership early next year, they would establish a level of product transparency unrivaled in any other economic sector. Sensing the moment, USGBC... Read More

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