New LEED standard encourages transparency in materials selection

By Healthcare Facilities Today
January 9, 2014
Clearer Picture

Motivation for increased transparency in materials selection was boosted when the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released its LEED v4 standard, which includes credits for building product reporting and disclosure.

The move follows growing concern about building materials and hazardous chemicals, and their effect on occupants and workers, according to an article on the Healthcare Design magazine's website. Third-party certification programs can be used to determine the validity of green building product attributes and health product declarations (HPDs) ask manufacturers to specify what’s in their products and to point out potential health hazards.

National efforts, such as LEED certification, help push the discussion forward, while a lot continues to happen on the local and regional level, the article said. In the San Francisco Bay area, a number of design firms have begun hosting sessions with manufacturers’ reps to educate them about HPDs and why they’re important to their firms.

This past fall, the USGBC’s Northern California Chapter launched a Building Health Initiative, with participants from a range of sectors coming together to collaborate and share best practices. The founding partners, which include Kaiser Permanente, HDR, HOK, Interface, and several other companies, have committed to undertake organizational actions, such as educating clients and peers about health impacts of the built environment and creating education programs, according to the article.

“Physicians understand the underlying causes of their patients’ conditions. That’s why we ask, ‘Where do you work, live, and play?’ It’s imperative that the medical profession and the building industries learn from one another about the health impacts of the built environment,” Dr. Elizabeth Baca, an initiative advisory board member, said in the article.

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