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Reports

Product transparency and informed choices by purchasers drive demand for healthier products and manufacturing processes. HBN's rigorous independent research reports are available to download below.

PFAS in Paints

2023

HBN tested 94 commercially available paint products for the presence of harmful per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), called “forever chemicals”. Approximately 50% of ‌paints tested positive for fluorine, a marker of PFAS. Review the details of our findings and the recommended actions you can take.


Chemical and Environmental Justice Impacts in the Life Cycle of Building Insulation

2022

Product manufacturers, policymakers, and professionals in the building industry are paying more attention to the potential health and environmental impacts of building products during installation and use, but there has been less consideration of the important chemical impacts, including contributions to environmental injustice or environmental racism, that may occur during other life cycle stages. Health Building Network (HBN) teamed up with Energy Efficiency for All (EEFA) to expand understanding of products’ life cycle health and environmental justice impacts—that is, the embodied chemical impacts of materials. We developed a framework based on the principles of green chemistry and the principles of environmental justice, and applied this framework to two widely-used insulation materials: fiberglass and spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation. A report brief includes recommended actions for building industry professionals, policymakers, manufacturers, and alternatives assessors.


Embodied Carbon and Material Health in Gypsum Drywall and Flooring

2022

This report identifies the key drivers of embodied carbon and material health, using flooring and drywall as examples. This study identifies some examples of where paths toward low embodied carbon and safer materials align and where they conflict and provides actionable guidance for material selection.


COVID-19 Statement: Understanding Antimicrobial Ingredients in Building Materials

2020

In response to growing concerns over COVID-19, Healthy Building Network (HBN) and global architecture and design firm Perkins and Will reexamined the conclusions and recommendations of our white paper, “Healthy Environments: Understanding Antimicrobial Ingredients in Building Materials,” which we co-wrote in 2017.


Chlorine & Building Materials Project: Phase 2 Asia Including Worldwide Findings

2019

Chlorine is the origin of many of the world’s most problematic chemicals and products, including polyvinyl chloride (PVC), used in building and construction. There is extensive interest in the building industry in the manufacture and use of chlorine. A necessary first step in reducing the environmental health impacts of chlorine in the supply chain of PVC and other chlorine-based products is to create a public global inventory of chlorine, vinyl chloride monomer, and PVC producers.


Integrating Healthier Materials into Energy Efficiency Programs: A Materials Guide and Resources Informing Action

2018 - 2022

Insulation and air sealing are two of the most common interventions performed in energy efficiency upgrades, and yet they can introduce many chemicals of concern into buildings. That’s why Healthy Building Network (HBN) teamed up with Energy Efficiency for All (EEFA) and other partner organizations to consider healthier insulation and air sealing materials and how to help encourage their use in multifamily energy efficiency upgrades. This project has yielded several resources for specifiers, contractors, building owners, developers, architects, program managers, and anyone wanting to use or encourage the use of healthier materials in energy efficiency upgrade projects. Resources draw on HBN’s research into a range of insulation and sealant materials and include simple, actionable recommendations, relative cost information, performance characteristics, and installation and code considerations. Recommendations are provided in multiple formats including sample specification language. The policy brief introduces a discussion of policies that may impact material decisions and how to encourage the use of healthier materials in multifamily energy efficiency upgrades. The case study and contractor interviews provide additional insight on the drivers, adoptability, and performance of healthier materials in energy efficiency upgrades in multifamily affordable housing.


Chlorine & Building Materials Project: Phase 1 Africa, The Americas, and Europe

2018

Chlorine is the origin of many of the world’s most problematic chemicals and products, including polyvinyl chloride (PVC), used in building and construction. There is extensive interest in the building industry in the manufacture and use of chlorine. A necessary first step in reducing the environmental health impacts of chlorine in the supply chain of PVC and other chlorine-based products is to create a public global inventory of chlorine, vinyl chloride monomer, and PVC producers.


Healthy Environments: Understanding Antimicrobial Ingredients In Building Materials

2017

Building products incorporating antimicrobial additives are becoming increasingly prevalent. Paints, and other touchable surfaces such as countertops, and virtually any product considered as an interior finish may contain one or a combination of antimicrobials. These agents are considered pesticides, but their identity—and related hazards—can be difficult for the average person to discover. This lack of transparency creates a hurdle for the informed selection of products with reduced negative impacts.  No evidence yet exists to demonstrate that products intended for use in interior spaces that incorporate antimicrobial additives actually result in healthier populations. Further, antimicrobials may have negative impacts on both people and the environment. This paper, prepared by Perkins+Will in partnership with HBN, aims to present current information about reported or potential health and environmental impacts of antimicrobial substances as commonly used within the building industry, and to assist architects, designers, building owners, tenants, and contractors in understanding those impacts.


Eliminating Toxics in Carpet: Lessons for the Future of Recycling

2017

Healthy Building Network's report on post-consumer carpet feedstocks calls for eliminating over 40 highly toxic chemicals in carpets that threaten public health and impede recycling. These toxics are known to cause respiratory disease, heart attacks, cancer, and asthma, and impair children's developmental health. The report outlines strategies to protect public health and the environment by improving product transparency, eliminating dangerous chemicals from carpets, and increasing carpet recycling rates. It also reveals surprising efforts in the industry to remove many of these toxic substances from carpet design.


Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement (RAP) in Building & Construction

2017

Asphalt (also known as asphalt concrete, bitumen, or road tar) is the most common paving material by far, accounting for a 92 percent share of the 2.5 million miles of roads and highways in the United States. Reclaiming and reusing asphalt has many benefits, including waste prevention, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and lower lifecycle impacts compared to virgin asphalt material use.  Keys to increasing the recycling of asphalt and its attendant environmental benefits include simplifying the designs of asphalt mixes, reducing toxic additives in production, tracking materials from production through use and recycling, testing incoming materials for contaminants, and avoiding the addition of cutback solvents and other toxic rejuvenating agents.