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Buyers Beware: Coal Ash in Building Products (January 30, 2014)
With "first do no harm" as the most fundamental precept of the profession, health care organizations are well positioned to ensure environmental health is a key component of sustainability. They can lead the building industry in designing and constructing buildings in ways that enhance health; reducing the impacts on patients, staff, the community, and the environment; and, sourcing materials that do not contain chemicals linked to illnesses such as cancer, reproductive problems, learning disabilities, hormone interference and respiratory problems.
The Healthy Building Network works with the health care industry to enable these institutions, architects, designers, and other specifiers to utilize their buying power to transform the market toward healthier and more just building materials. To that end, we have served as a consultant to Kaiser Permanente (KP) as the health system has undertaken efforts to transform the building materials market. We are one of the leaders in the Global Health and Safety Initiative's built environment work group, working with a coalition of hospital systems, architects and designers, governmental and non-governmental organizations to move toward more environmentally responsible building materials.
Our health care project team is available to provide support and guidance to health care institutions, architects, designers and others who strive toward the same goals. When needed, our staff is available for public presentations, individual fee-for-service consultation and technical support. Please contact Julie Silas, Health Care Project Director for more information.
- Partnerships and collaborations
- Market research projects
- Technical and science analysis
- Education and training tools
Partnerships and Collaborations:
The Healthy Building Network partners and collaborates with many health care organizations, including hospitals, group purchasing organizations (GPOs), architect and design firms, and other nonprofits. Our collaborative efforts include:
Working with Kaiser Permanente (KP) to leverage KP's significant market share and bring healthier building materials to the health care industry. From their initial efforts to identify PVC-free backed carpet that met KP's specific needs, we have partnered together to identify environmentally responsible building products, as well as corporate leaders dedicated to meeting KP's unique environmental health agenda and the health care industry in general.
Joining the Global Health and Safety Initiative (GHSI), which began in October 2007 when over 120 representatives from health care systems, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Group Purchasing Organizations (GPOs), trade associations and government agencies gathered in Oakland, California to discuss and launch a new initiative. The participants agreed to work together on issues at the intersection of patient safety, worker safety and environmental sustainability while significantly improving the performance of the entire health care sector. In the first half of 2008, the GHSI will officially launch its website, providing more detailed information about the initiative and how organizations can get involved. The Healthy Building Network is co-chairing GHSI's sub-committee on materials for the built environment work group.
The Green Guide for Health Care (GGHC), a joint project of the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems and Practice Greenhealth, is the first and only voluntary best practices and quantifiable sustainable design toolkit integrating enhanced environmental and health principles into the planning, design, construction, operations and maintenance of health care facilities. Developed in conjunction with leaders in the health care field such as Health Care Without Harm, the American Society for Healthcare Engineering, and EPA's Healthy Hospitals project, the GGHC offers a "one stop shop" health care facility designers, owners, and operators can use to implement high performance, healing design features, smart energy and water strategies, safer materials and responsible materials management. In response to GGHC's success, manufacturers are reengineering their building products to meet the health-based criteria embedded within them. As a result, dozens of new PVC-free and mercury-free building products have been brought to market.
Following four years of close collaboration, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and GGHC cemented formal agreements to work together on the development of tools, educational programs, and other activities that support green health care buildings. USGBC and GGHC will: a) jointly develop health care-related resource materials, education and training events; b) jointly identify a prioritized research agenda; and, c) continue to collaborate on developing future health care-related green building tools. For its part, USGBC will administer the LEED for Healthcare certification process while the GGHC will continue to act as a change agent and tool developer dedicated to empowering the health delivery industry.
Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), is an international coalition of hospitals and health care systems, medical professionals, community groups, health-affected constituencies, labor unions, environmental and environmental health organizations and religious groups working to transform the health care sector worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment.
CleanMed is the premier environmental conference for leaders in health care. The conferences attract key decision makers from across the supply chain. CleanMed 2008, in Pittsburg May 20 - 22nd, will disseminate examples of best practices and convene health care professionals, university researchers, designers of professional buildings, and vendors of cleaner and safer products and services. The conference can accelerate the development, use, and diffusion of environmentally preferable products and practices, and the construction of green buildings in health care.
The Healthy Building Network strives to discover and make available information about alternatives to some of the worst in class chemicals/materials on the market that are used in health care buildings. Through consulting and research projects, we identify products (and companies) that may (or may not) be addressing environment, health and social concerns to the health care industry. The information we research can be used to help health care organizations and their representatives source healthier alternatives and serves to urge other health care institutions to start evaluating and sourcing safer alternatives. As our Pharos Project unfolds, much of the market research undertaken by our Health Care team will be incorporated into the Pharos Project database.
Technical and science analysis:
The Healthy Building Network develops technical and scientific documents on chemicals, materials, and/or product categories and classes that can be used by health care organizations and the architects, designers, specifiers, engineers, and contractors who create and/or maintain their buildings. Our white papers and resource documents help provide scientific support for our work, as well as the work of our partners and collaborators, as we undertake to source safer and healthier building materials.
Education and training:
The Healthy Building Network's education and outreach program for health care brings detailed information about the potential health effects of commonly sourced building materials to specifiers, making the case against some of the worst in class chemicals. We present accessible and credible information about chemicals and materials of concern while providing information about alternatives on the market, as well as case studies of actions health care institutions have undertaken to source healthier building materials. HBN's health care staff have presented at hospital roundtables, architecture and design firms, and in larger venues such as teleconferences, CleanMed, and Cascadia's Living Building Challenge.
- Market Research for Selecting Healthy Materials
- Technical and Scientific Documents
- General Green Building and Health Care
- Green Guide for Healthcare Construction
The Green Guide for Healthcare is the premier green building guide for the health care industry and a transformational new tool for building hospitals that are healthy for people and the environment. Similar in structure to the USGBC LEED system but addresses the
particular structural, usage, and regulatory challenges of healthcare buildings and emphasizes environmental & public health issues.
- ASHE Green Healthcare Construction Guidance Statement
Vision statement and comprehensive check list of green design
and construction goals and strategies developed by the American
Society for Healthcare Engineering.
Building Priorities for Healthcare
Priority setting for green construction in healthcare developed
by the Building Green Health Care work group of the Healthy Building
Network and Health Care Without Harm.
and Healthy Buildings for the Healthcare Industry
Article by Gail Vittori of the Center for Maximum Potential Building
Systems on planning for a green healthcare facility.