CompAIR: HBN Launches New Tool For Comparing VOCs

Bill Walsh - November 10, 2015

Next week at the Greenbuild Conference and Expo in Washington DC (November 18-19), HBN will launch CompAIR, a new feature in the Pharos Project that provides the most accurate and reliable comparisons of the chemicals offgassing from paints, coatings and similar products. By providing the weight of all volatile substances that are released into the air during the application and curing of a product, HBN's CompAIR calculator is the best measure of human health impacts available.  The green building community has long relied upon volatile organic compound (VOC) measurements as a de facto equivalent to indoor air quality. For many years, the Healthy Building Network (HBN) and our allies have pointed out a glaring weakness in this measure: not all harmful volatile ingredients known to be released into the built environment are covered by the regulatory definition of VOCs. For various historical reasons, substances are defined as VOCs in the indoor environment only if they... Read More

Residential Fiberglass Insulation Transformed: Formaldehyde is No More

Jim Vallette - October 30, 2015

Earlier this year, one last piece of light density residential fiberglass insulation bearing formaldehyde-based binder rolled off a production line somewhere in the Midwest United States. Then the line stopped, and a new binder came on line.  As of October 2015, every fiberglass insulation company in the United States and Canada has phased out the use of formaldehyde-based binders in lightweight residential products. Formaldehyde is a human toxicant with a long history of use in residential insulation. [1] In 1938, Owens Corning produced the first fiberglass insulation using formaldehyde-based resin. [2] Phenol formaldehyde remained the industry standard binder for the next seven decades. In 2002, Johns Manville moved first, shifting to an acrylic binder in its lightweight fiberglass insulation. The Healthy Building Network (HBN) used the Johns Manville example (and the introduction of Bonded Logic's formaldehyde free cotton insulation batts) to support a... Read More

Flux, HBN, thinkstep and Google Collaborate to Launch the Quartz Database at VERGE 2015

Quartz Project - October 27, 2015

Product transparency is more than just an ingredient label. It is a catalyst that triggers greater collaboration among manufacturers and their customers. It is the renewable energy of a continuous and increasingly open innovation process that is the key to addressing the sustainability challenges we face. The database of 100 "common product profiles" unveiled today in the new Quartz Project embodies these principles and adds one more: open data. Our collaboration with the technology company Flux, Google, and thinkstep is a natural extension of the unparalleled research we've been doing at the Healthy Building Network since 2009, understanding the composition of building products through our Pharos Building Materials Library. For the Quartz Project, HBN's research team created a rigorous methodology for researching the most common components, materials, and chemicals present in building products, which informed the foundation of each Common... Read More

Recycling in the Age of Product Transparency

Wes Sullens and Barry Hooper - October 22, 2015

Next year, the dominant green rating system in the world will complete the transition to a new iteration: LEED version 4. This transition sends a strong signal to the materials industry: the definition of green materials in LEED is shifting from single attributes like "rapidly renewable" or recycled content percentages, towards considering a broad array of environmental attributes. This new framework values product transparency via disclosure of material ingredients, lifecycle impacts, and best practices for extraction of raw materials. LEED is one of many product eco-labels, building codes, and green rating systems that are adapting to better inform decisions based on systematic evaluation of a product's impact. Yet in this new era of transparency, recycled content can find itself somewhat in the dark. The building industry's full range of impacts - including building product manufacturing, building site preparation, construction activity, and building occupancy... Read More

Powerful New Open Data Project Gets Rave Reviews

Rebecca Stamm - October 16, 2015

Now in our 15th year, the Healthy Building Network has been busy as beavers, felling more obstacles, building more useful infrastructures, with more partners, than ever. In the coming weeks, we will be unveiling many of these initiatives with Healthy Building News readers and the world at large. Front and center among these is a collaboration called Quartz, led by Flux, a team of technologists born at the Google[x] research lab in 2010, now operating independently. Flux's vision to minimize the impacts of the building and construction sector and improve communities mirrors HBN's 15 years of work to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals in building products. Last year, Flux organized the Quartz project to solve some nagging data challenges facing designers who seek building materials with the least human health and environmental impacts. Quartz leader Vivian Dien describes these challenges as inconsistency, incomprehensibility, inaccessibility, and closed practices. Flux... Read More

For more news and analysis from HBN's research team, visit our companion blog at the Pharos Project:

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