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

NY Times Op Eds Show Why LEED Chemical Credits Are Needed

Bill Walsh - August 28, 2012

This past Sunday's New York Times Week In Review contained two important opinion editorials that underscore both the need for the proposed LEED credits on chemical disclosure and avoidance, and why these proposals have earned the US Green Building Council (USGBC) such vicious attacks from the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the trade association of the chemical industry. A new study from the peer reviewed journal Endocrinology measuring low dose impacts of endocrine-disrupting chemicals triggered Times columnist Nicholas Kristof to write: The study is devastating for the chemical industry. . . . . the opposition to endocrine disruptors is led by toxicologists, endocrinologists, urologists and pediatricians. These are serious scientists, yet they don't often have the ear of politicians or journalists. The new study in Endocrinology focuses on Bisphenol-A, a chemical widely used in building products such as epoxy-based caulks, resins and coatings. Other... Read More

"All of That Is Gone Now": Coal Waste Processors Sue EPA

Jim Vallette - August 20, 2012

The two largest processors of coal power plant waste used in building materials - Boral Material Technologies and Headwaters Resources - are suing the US Environmental Protection Agency over its indecision about regulating their products. For all concerned, it would have been better to have this discussion before coal combustion waste entered the building material market. Once a cheerleader for the "beneficial reuse" of coal power plant waste, EPA is considering quite the opposite position: regulating it as hazardous waste. Boral and Headwaters are asking the US District Court in Washington, DC, to set a three month deadline for the Agency's final determination. Inside EPA reports that the two companies filed a brief on August 14, 2012, stating that the delay "has created uncertainty in the beneficial use marketplace," including among "architects and engineers." This inaction, they say, has "direct, traceable negative impacts on the... Read More

Senate Vote Builds Case Against Toxic Commerce

Jim Vallette - July 26, 2012

Toxic commerce flourishes in the opaque US regulatory environment. For over thirty years, corporate members of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) have enjoyed the confidentiality and toothless nature of the most important chemical regulation that applies to them: the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). But the days of secrecy and unregulated access for new chemicals are numbered. For seven years, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) tried to push TSCA reform legislation through the Senate environment committee. On Wednesday, his Safe Chemicals Act finally cleared this hurdle by a 10-to-8 party line vote. ACC chair Cal Dooley last month called the Lautenberg bill an "extreme proposal," and Republican senators professed economic, safety, and even national security reasons not to support it. While the bill may not survive a polarized legislative branch, the vote convincingly demonstrates growing momentum for controlling toxic commerce. It reflects marketplace and public... Read More

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