Do You Know the IMPACT Materials Have on our Health and Environment?

The 2014 NTX Sustainable Showcase, held in July at the Dallas Arboretum, focused on the materials that we use in buildings, and their impact on our health and the environment.

You’ve probably heard about new ways to measure the effect of building materials on our health, especially if you’re familiar with the Living Building Challenge or the new Materials credits in LEED v4.  Unless you’re a chemist, or unless you’ve been personally affect by environmentally-induced health problems like autism or asthma, you’re probably wondering why all the fuss. That’s where Showcase’s opening speaker Bill Walsh comes in.  Bill Walsh is with the Healthy Building Network (HBN), and he makes a clear and compelling case for eliminating unhealthy products and replacing them with healthier alternatives.  So clear, that I want to download his presentation and share it with anyone who will listen.

The speakers at Showcase gave an overview of some tools and databases that are available for architects and interior designers to evaluate building materials and their impact on health and the environment.  These included Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) tools like Tally™, product certifications like Cradle to Cradle, and manufacturer’s labels like Health Product Declarations (HPDs) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). As the keynote speaker, David Riz, AIA, of KieranTimberlake, put everything together with case studies showing how he has used these tools in some of his real-life design projects. 

Overall, the presentations helped me make sense of the new tools for designing healthier buildings, and gave me a better idea of how they’re used.  I learned about where the market is going with respect to healthy and environmentally safe building materials. Most importantly, I learned that healthier products, and thus healthier buildings, come about because of market demand from building professionals like you and me.


View more photos from this year's Showcase here.

Contributed by:
Tricia Loe

Talk About It

There are no comments yet, be the first!