News

Posted on Feb 27, 2020 in General

Petrochemical Companies are Burying Black History. The Building Industry Can Help Resurrect It.

In Louisiana, the factories that make the chemicals and plastics for our building products are built literally upon the bones of African Americans. Plantation fields have been transformed into industrial fortresses. A Shell Refinery1 sprawls across the former Bruslie and Monroe plantations. Belle Pointe is now the DuPont Pontchartrain Works, among the most toxic air polluters in the state.2 Soon, the Taiwan-based Formosa Plastics Group intends to build a 2400-acre complex of 14 facilities that will transform fracked gas into plastics. It will occupy land that was formerly the Acadia and Buena Vista plantations, and not incidentally, the ancestral burial grounds of local African American residents, some of whom trace their lineage back to people enslaved there.3 Virtually every building product we use today contains a petrochemical component that originates from heavily polluted communities, frequently home to people of color. As the green building movement searches for ways to enhance diversity, inclusion and equity, how might it address the legacies of injustice that are tied to the products and materials we use every day?

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Posted on Jan 30, 2020 in General

Picking a Safer Paint is Easier Than You Think

Selecting the right paint for your project can be challenging and identifying a paint that reduces your exposure to toxic chemicals on top of that can be even more daunting. The good news is that transformation continues to happen in the paint market, providing developers, architects, and consumers more options for choosing less toxic paint products. Moreover, at Healthy Building Network (HBN), we continue working with our partners to help simplify the process of selecting a safer paint.

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Posted on Jan 30, 2020 in General

HBN Helps Guide New Green Communities Materials Criteria

Enterprise Community Partners has just released the next generation of their Green Communities Criteria. The only national green building standard designed specifically for affordable housing projects, the Enterprise Green Communities Criteria has a major impact on how affordable housing properties are constructed. HBN is proud to have contributed to the development of the new 2020 Green Communities Criteria. Krista Egger, senior director of initiatives at Enterprise Community Partners, acknowledged HBN’s contribution, saying, "Significant improvements were made to the Materials section of the Green Communities standard thanks to the leadership of HBN."

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Posted on Nov 5, 2019 in Word of the Week

The First of Three HBN Webinars Kicks-Off Next Week, Offering Practical Advice On Healthier Materials Selections for Your Next Project

You make all the difference in making healthier and affordable housing more accessible! Get the knowledge you need for healthier materials selections in these three webinar offerings. Choose one or all three webinar topics, where you’ll learn the importance of healthier building materials selection, and get actionable steps for choosing better paint and flooring for your next project. The first webinar, live next week on November 12, is titled Welcome to HomeFree: Why Materials Matter. Keep reading to learn more and to register.

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Posted on Oct 18, 2019 in General

What’s New at HomeFree? Resources to Help You Select Healthier Insulation

HBN is keeping pace with changes in insulation product offerings with updates to our insulation hazard spectrum. We're also supporting our users by providing on-demand educational materials to match. HBN’s latest course released on our HomeFree Campus is Selecting Healthier Insulation with HomeFree.

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Posted on Aug 27, 2019 in General

Looking to Strengthen the Equity Conversation? How About Including Building Materials!

Wondering what makes building materials a public health issue? The word equity plays a big role! Equity and buildings seem worlds apart, but Healthy Building Network is changing that paradigm through research, education, and our HomeFree initiative. 

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Posted on Jun 27, 2019 in General

"Tens of Millions of Pounds of Phthalates Annually Eliminated from Vinyl Flooring"

Phthalates (thay-lates) are chemicals used to make vinyl soft and pliable for uses such as roofing membrane, wall covering and flooring. Healthy Building Network began a campaign to remove these chemicals from building products in our seminal 2002 report, Environmental Impacts of PVC Building materials. In 2005 we reported that researchers had demonstrated a link between a mother’s exposure to phthalates and genital deformities in male offspring. Soon phthalates began to be banned from children’s products, though not building products. In 2014 we published a positive assessment of available Phthalate Free Plasticizers in PVC. The next year, after extensive negotiations with the Mind The Store Campaign, a coalition of environmental health groups including HBN, The Home Depot led the big box industry in banning these chemicals from the vinyl flooring sold at retail. This week these groups announced that independent testing of product on the shelves of The Home Depot, Lowes and Lumber Liquidators has confirmed the successful elimination of these toxic compounds from vinyl flooring sold there. Read More

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Posted on Jun 27, 2019 in General

Could Chemical Exposures Increase Your Chance of Catching a Cold?

Followers of our work at Healthy Building Network are well-versed in the broad range of impacts that chemical exposures can have on our health. Many chemicals that are common in building materials have been linked to cancer, asthma, and effects on the endocrine system. Did you also know that more and more studies suggest links between exposure to certain chemicals and our immune systems’ ability to fight infectious diseases? Or that chemicals may contribute to stronger, more antibiotic-resistant bacteria?

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Posted on May 30, 2019 in General

HBN’s Transformation Targets: A better way to prioritize chemicals of concern.

We often hear that one of the greatest challenges to architects, designers, and building owners is navigating the plethora of certifications, standards, restricted substances lists (RSLs), and competing priorities. In fact, HBN’s Pharos database identified over 300. Heavy reliance on RSLs can lead to regrettable substitution (a different chemical replacement with the similar or worse toxicity or impacts). HBN took up the challenge, to move beyond the limitations of RSLs, and to help focus the entire industry on one (maybe two) chemical compound groups at a time per product type that are ripe for transformation, and to amplify our collective energies to replace these chemicals with fully disclosed, fully assessed safer alternatives. 

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Posted on May 30, 2019 in General

Healthy Building Network Receives 2019 Design for Humanity Award

Healthy Building Network has been honored as the national 2019 Design for Humanity award recipient from the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). In celebrating an institution for having made significant contributions to improving the environment for humanity through projects that transform lives, this award recognizes the far-reaching impact of HBN’s work.

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