Clear Lessons For Recycling Glass In Building Products

Jim Vallette - September 30, 2015

The use of recycling materials in building products is evolving. The latest version of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED version 4) green building rating system no longer explicitly credits recycled materials, but it does reward transparency and disclosure of product lifecycles and contents. While recycling is more important than ever because of the need to make use of dwindling world resources, recycling's supply chain is murky and far from transparent. As Wes Sullens and Barry Hooper note in an upcoming Healthy Building Network newsletter, "This truly is the age of transparency for building products. Yet in this new light, recycled content can find itself somewhat in the dark." [1] Economics aren't helping either. The rise of single-stream recycling contaminates waste streams and devalues recycled feedstocks, while at the same time prices for virgin materials have dropped due to fracking and low energy prices. And US export... Read More

HBN Board Chair Robin Guenther Gives TEDMED Talk

Bill Walsh - September 17, 2015

Last September the Chair of HBN's Board of Directors, Robin Guenther, delivered a TEDMED talk entitled Why Hospitals Are Making Us Sick. That talk is now available for viewing, and we are pleased to bring it to you here. Robin is a leading expert and textbook author, with Gail Vittori, of Sustainable Healthcare Architecture. As principal at Perkins+Will, Robin has designed innovative healthcare buildings that have been published nationally and internationally. In addition to her practice and duties with HBN, Robin works at the intersection of healthcare architecture and sustainability policy, participating in a wide range of advocacy initiatives. She is Senior Advisor to Health Care Without Harm, co-coordinated with the Green Guide for Health Care, and she served on the LEED for Healthcare committee. Healthcare Design magazine named her the "#1 Most Influential Designer in Healthcare."  Watch Robin's talk on... Read More

Firsts At The Living Product Expo

Bill Walsh - August 20, 2015

The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) will convene its first Living Product Expo next month in Pittsburgh.  In addition to the much anticipated roll out of the Living Product Challenge during a pre-conference workshop, the conference organizers have created program full of leading experts at the forefront of healthy materials development who will be unveiling a new wave of innovative initiatives and programs for the first time. We at the Healthy Building Network will be providing a first look at two new programs.  I will be discussing our new collaboration with the Healthy Materials Lab at the Parsons School of Design.  This project, undertaken in partnership with the Health Product Declaration Collaborative (HPDC) and Green Science Policy Institute (GSPI) is designed to accelerate the adoption of healthy materials in affordable housing, while leveraging the market power of this sector to drive product transparency and innovation.  HBN’s... Read More

The end is near for phthalate plasticizers

Jim Vallette - July 9, 2015

The market for toxic plasticizers in building materials is closing.  Yesterday, a third major retailer – Menards – announced that it is following Home Depot and Lowe’s leads, and will end the use of phthalate plasticizers in its vinyl floors by the end of 2015.  This follows similar actions by the world’s largest flooring manufacturers – Mohawk and Tarkett – and a stark warning issued in the new issue of Consumer Reports. In an email reported in yesterday’s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Menards spokesperson Jeff Abbot wrote, "We are still aware of the phthalate concern and have been working diligently with our vendors to eliminate any flooring products that contain phthalates.” Over twenty percent of the composition of some polyvinyl chloride (PVC, also called vinyl) sheet flooring is phthalate plasticizer. Public health authorities have determined that many phthalates are detrimental to developmental health. Some... Read More

Materials Optimization Starts at the Intersection of Human Health and Recycling

Wes Sullens - April 29, 2015

On Earth Day my organization (StopWaste) and the Healthy Building Network published the first in a series of in-depth studies of common feedstocks found in many recycled content building products: Post-Consumer Polyvinyl Chloride in Building Products. These reports are part of a new initiative we have undertaken along with the San Francisco Department of the Environment to identify options for enhancing recycled content value, fostering longer material reuse cycles, and improving environmental and human health. It can be a challenge to square two important goals: 1) increase recycling, and 2) protect human health and the environment, given the amount of toxic chemicals currently in some recycled feedstocks. However, it also presents a great opportunity as evidence shows that cleaning up recycled feedstocks increases industry interest in those feedstocks and ultimately increases their diversion from landfills and incinerators. Our case study of recycled polyvinyl chloride (PVC, or... Read More

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