The Greenbuild EXPO 2012 Transparency Treasure Hunt

Jim Vallette - November 14, 2012

Greenbuild 2012 Transparency Map

(Click to enlarge) This map reflects positions held as of the start of Greenbuild 2012. These positions may have changed since then. For a more comprehensive and up to date list of Transparency Leaders and Toxics Supporters, visit our Transparency Tour campaign page.

SAN FRANCISCO - Anyone missing the excitement of the presidential election can get a recharge by coming here, to the US Green Building Council’s Greenbuild EXPO 2012. A high-stakes political campaign rages around a modest proposal to incorporate a new materials credit in LEED® v4. The proposed Building Product Disclosure and Optimization credit would reward transparency through disclosure of material contents and the avoidance of chemicals of concern.

In response, the world’s biggest chemical producers have organized a corporate campaign against not only the credits, but the LEED® system itself. They are even trying to get government officials to to eliminate LEED® from federal building projects.

The industry front, however, is hardly unified. Many building product manufacturers are already fully disclosing chemical hazards. They recognize that the modern marketplace demands openness and innovation. Through comprehensive disclosure systems like the Pharos Project (www.pharosproject.net) and the Health Product Declaration (www.hpdcollaborative.org), these companies are leading the way.

The corporations that are trying to undermine the proposed LEED v4 credit make the chemicals that people want to know about and avoid. They are fighting to protect chemicals like bisphenol-A, phthalates, isocyanates, halogenated flame retardants, and formaldehyde resins. These chemicals are under fire from regulatory agencies and are on the “red lists” used by many architects, designers and building owners.

Yet many of those corporations that disparage the USGBC and its flagship rating system are not only members of the Council, but are exhibitors on the Greenbuild EXPO floor. Here they compete for your business alongside companies that represent the hopeful side of the equation, those that demonstrate far more openness to transparency and change.

To help people navigate this complicated landscape, the Healthy Building Network developed a “Greenbuild 2012 Transparency Treasure Map.” This map, now available at our booth in the North Building (3879N), is an essential tool for Greenbuild EXPO 2012 participants. It is a guide to sifting the real treasures on the Expo floor from the fool’s gold.

The map also links to a new resource on the HBN website. This page details corporate activities on both sides of transparency. We identify the leaders, the building material manufacturers who are participating in Pharos and the HPD. And, we divulge exactly what the other side is doing: we name the toxic chemical companies and identify their federal lobbying activities that will undermine efforts to increase public disclosure and decrease chemical hazards.

Finally, we suggest positive actions that you can take in support of transparency — beginning here at the Greenbuild EXPO, where you can ask company representatives three critical questions:

  • Does your company support full disclosure of chemicals of concern to customers?
  • Does your company support the LEED v4 credit for toxic chemical disclosure and avoidance?
  • Does your company support the lobbying efforts of trade associations against LEED and the USGBC, or has it issued a statement rejecting this effort?

This is a pivotal moment in the green building movement. Please step up and join us in shining a light on the companies that prefer to keep customers in the dark.


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For more news and analysis from HBN's research team, visit our companion blog at the Pharos Project:

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