Healthy Building Network
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The scale of the building materials market is so large -- more than three billion tons of materials per year -- that its transformation to advance the best environmental, health and social practices could decrease, and even begin to reverse, some of the profound negative impacts of the contemporary building industry on the environment, human health and society.

The Healthy Building Network was founded in 2000 on the initiative of leaders from the national environmental health movement based on this belief. There are many examples of the opportunities for change in the building materials market. Until 2004, pressure-treated wood was the most common source of arsenic exposure to children and adults in the United States. Due to loopholes in waste disposal laws, arsenic leaching from the wood in landfills was (and remains) implicated in groundwater contamination. Another common building material, polyvinyl chloride plastic, also known as PVC or vinyl, is estimated to be the single largest material source of dioxin to the global environment over the course of its life cycle, production, use and disposal. Substituting cost-effective, healthier building materials for these products is the single most effective step we can take to preserve and regenerate our environment, and to protect public health.

The Healthy Building Network is deeply committed to the goal of achieving environmental justice. Studies in the United States have repeatedly demonstrated that poor communities and communities of color suffer disproportionate environmental and health impacts associated with heavy industry and waste facilities. The globalized economy often inflicts environmental and human health consequences upon indigenous peoples living far from the site – and presumed economic benefits – of industrial activity. Inuit women living subsistence lifestyles in far northern Canada have higher concentrations of industrial chemicals in their breast milk than any other community of women on Earth. For these reasons, the Healthy Building Network employs comprehensive lifecycle thinking when evaluating green building materials, mindful of David Orr’s observation that "Nothing is beautiful that causes ugliness in any other place or at any other time in the world."

Since 2000, our projects have directly resulted in the introduction of new, healthier building materials into commercial markets, shifting over $4 billion in materials purchases from toxic materials to healthier alternatives that are comparable in both price and performance to the materials they have replaced. We have played a key role in establishing precedent-setting green building guidelines for health care facilities, demonstrating well-built, healthy and green modular homes to the affordable housing market in the Gulf States region and developing the first, on-line evaluation tool for building materials.

Learn more about our past successes and current projects. Keep up to date with our work by subscribing to our semi-monthly newsletter. Please contact us if you are interested in supporting our collaborating in our work.

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Penny Bonda
HBN Board Member

Penny Bonda, FASID, NCIDQ, LEED AP is a monthly contributor to Interior Design magazine's online resource, The Green Zone.

I believe that this organization plays an important and constructive leadership role in the green building movement. The key to their success is the financial independence that they gain from supporters like you and me.
Please join Penny by making a generous tax deductible contribution today >>

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