Bringing ‘do no harm’ to building materials

The Right Chemistry Blog on by Howard Williams

Excerpt from the article: 

LivingWallThe idea of being health positive is grounded in the belief that building materials should be free of chemicals of concern. All stakeholders have the right to expect this beneficial interaction with their built environment. Health positive is a hazard-based concept that respects not only the site boundary, but also the full length of the supply chain. (End users may be at risk if the hazardous chemical escapes from the material, whereas many others along the supply chain may have dealt directly with the hazardous chemical.)

The drivers of this change are varied and many, and we may never know when the tipping point naturally would have occurred….

Joining the leaders

So who is answering the consumer’s call for healthy buildings materials?

Rigorous multi-attribute third-party product certification, such as the Cradle-to-Cradle Product Innovation Institute’s C2C Certification, addresses the full spectrum of sustainability and all of its stakeholders. The Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Program rates products across five critical quality categories and recognizes achievement and a commitment to continuous improvement. The five critical categories are the sustainability primaries: material health (chemistry), reutilization (recycle), water (use reduction), energy (renewables instead of fossil) and social responsibility. The five are inseparable aspects of sustainability.

To get started on using or making safe building materials:

  1. Bring to all your business decisions William McDonough’s insight: “Design is the first signal of human intention.”
  2. Contact the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.
  3. Contact McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry.
  4. Establish a chemicals policy governing products and processes.
  5. Do it.

There are many ways to characterize and define sustainability, but I’ve found none so compelling as what Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th U.S. President, said in his farewell address:

“As we peer into society’s future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow.  We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without asking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage.”

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