Post-Consumer Flexible Polyurethane Foam Scrap Used In Building Products

Rebecca Stamm and Wes Sullens - July 29, 2016

Most post-consumer flexible polyurethane foam (FPF) collected for recycling today contains highly toxic flame retardants. The vast majority of this scrap material is recycled into one type of new building product: bonded carpet cushion. While the practice of diverting vast amounts of FPF from landfills represents a recycling success story, the potential health hazards to vulnerable populations make us question whether the benefits of recycling are worth the risk. In April, we released a preliminary white paper on post-consumer FPF used in building products. We posted the working draft to inform a Green Science Policy Institute-led initiative to research disposal options for waste FPF that contains toxic flame retardants. Today, after further investigation into this topic, we are releasing the final report, Optimizing Recycling: Post-Consumer Flexible Polyurethane Foam Scrap Used In Building Products. Our findings indicate that most post-consumer FPF collected... Read More

Healthy Building Network Announces Executive Leadership Expansion

Bill Walsh - June 30, 2016

Affordable Housing Expert Gina Ciganik Appointed CEO Founder Bill Walsh to Become President of the Board HBN's executive leadership team is comprised of Bill Walsh, President of the Board of Directors; Gina Ciganik, Chief Executive Officer; Larry Kilroy, Chief Technology Officer; and Susan Sabella, Chief Operating Officer. Washington, DC, June 30, 2016. Healthy Building Network (HBN), the green building movement's leader in health and transparency, today announced an expanded executive leadership structure that positions the organization to scale its operations, increase mission impact and broaden its environmental and human health initiatives with the affordable housing sector. Noted sustainability and affordable housing expert Gina Ciganik has been appointed Chief Executive Officer. HBN founder Bill Walsh will remain involved on a daily basis as President of the Board of Directors and will focus on long-term strategy,... Read More

From NIMBY to Now in Everyone’s Backyard

Jim Vallette - June 23, 2016

When one waste disposal option closes, another inevitably opens.  A half-century ago, the federal government started regulating solid wastes and preventing rampant dumping in the woods, ocean, and unlined dumps. Then the so-called Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) movement of the 1970s and 1980s prevented scores of landfills and incinerators from being permitted across the country, just as existing disposal sites were reaching capacity. There were also spectacular failures at waste sites that made headlines. Coal ash ponds failed, releasing contaminated waste into rivers and drinking water. Giant piles of tires caught on fire, and came to symbolize the crisis of growing piles of waste.  In response, environmental agencies partnered with waste generators like the coal power and tire industries to find ways to reduce the amount of their wastes going to landfills. The US Environmental Protection Agency developed an option called “beneficial use,” in which these... Read More

Risky Business: Undermining the LEED Material Credit

Tom Lent - May 25, 2016

They did it again. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has pushed another greenwashing credit option into LEED. The new Building Material Human Hazard & Exposure Assessment Pilot Credit developed “by USGBC in conjunction with the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and its members,”[1] represents perhaps the most audacious effort to date by the ACC to neutralize LEED’s leadership in improving material health in building products. The Credit ignores some of the highest concern chemical hazards (including neurotoxicants, endocrine disruptors and persistent bioaccumulative toxicants). It allows the manufacturer to make up their own proprietary risk assessment protocol for the remaining health endpoints, ignore data gaps and uncertainties, and bury the whole thing in an undisclosed black box.  The credit requires just two manufacturers to go through this exercise for a total of five products to get the LEED point.[2] It is being touted as a contribution to... Read More

Take Action for Healthier Building Materials

Tom Lent - March 30, 2016

The Healthy Building Network just posted two articles in our Pharos Signal blog asking readers to take specific actions that can really help bring healthier materials into building products.   In the first, "Toxic Insulation, Certified? Green Seal Needs to Hear From You," we ask you to submit comments to Green Seal, a leading green product certification program, regarding its new draft standard for building insulation.   HBN is concerned to see Green Seal taking a lower road than LEED on sustainable forestry issues and providing generous exemptions for some of the most toxic substances used in insulation products today. Green Seal's deadline for comments is Thursday, March 31, so please give it some thought, and let them (and us) know what you think. [UPDATE: Comment period has been extended through APRIL 7]   In the second, "HBN Partnering with Cradle to Cradle for Hazard Screening," I invite you to take a look at the... Read More

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