Articles

USGBC, Chemical Industry Reach Historic Compromise on Product Optimization

Option 3 of the LEED v4 Material Ingredients credit rewards manufacturers for chemical management up the supply chain.

By Paula Melton

LEED v4 contained a curious and unprecedented gap when it was published in 2013. Wrangling between chemical transparency advocates and chemical manufacturers had a cascading effect on the rating systems, and one of the credit options in the reference guide came with no guidance, no explanations, no calculations—and thus no possible way to achieve the point.

That all changed on November 10 when the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released implementation guidance for Option 3 (Product Manufacturer Supply-Chain Optimization) of MRC4: Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Material Ingredients.

The guide focuses on manufacturer implementation, and the option still won’t be achievable in projects for a few months—but the 14-page document represents a historic compromise between the green building movement and the mainstream chemical industry.

To continue reading, please visit the Building Green website.

Google Helps Launch Database for Health Hazard & Lifecycle Assessment of Common Building Materials

Buildings, the Environment, and Our Health

Buildings are where we spend most of our lives, yet we know little about the materials used in construction—how they impact the environment and how they might impact our long-term health. Quartz provides access to open data that promotes the transparency of building materials and products.

Many health problems have been linked to poor indoor air quality, which can be affected by building materials that emit volatile organic compounds and solvents. In addition, building-generated CO2 emissions contribute heavily to climate change. To respond to both of these pressing demands, we need building products that enhance and protect the environment and our personal health throughout a building's lifecycle.

Seeding the Effort for Better Buildings

Within the AEC (Architecture, Engineering, and Construction) industry, it is incredibly difficult for professionals responsible for providing healthy and sustainable spaces to make informed decisions about building products. The absence of centralized information, poor data accessibility, varying standards, and closed practices makes the curation of data for even a single product a great challenge.

The Quartz Common Product Database seeds the effort to bridge a vast knowledge gap within the AEC industry. Using a consistent and transparent methodology, our database includes composition, environment, and health hazard information on 100 common building products. Information is critical for market transformation towards less toxic and lower-impact materials. With open data, we can design and build better buildings and communities even faster.

Visit quartzproject.org to read more.

COP21 Call to Building Designers

Author: Tim Murray

No doubt you’ve heard about the COP21 (U.N. 21st Conference of Parties) Climate Change Conference in Paris this week. While much of COP21’s scope is beyond the building designer’s role, we do still play an important part in the “complex solution for a carbon neutral future” and a few events are happening to highlight this fact. On Monday, four European architecture councils hosted an event, “Architecture, the Climate of the Future,” to “emphasize the role architects can play in assisting in energy transition and the impact buildings have on climate, resiliency, and design”. At that event, the Manifesto for Responsible Architecture (link) was presented along with the Building and Real Estate Climate Declaration, a document created by the USGBC and Ceres.  http://www.ceres.org/declaration/sign/built-climate-declaration.

On December 3, the first Buildings Day will be held to launch the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction. This network will “offer the opportunity for partners and members with a shared climate change objective to communicate and collaborate on reducing the impact of the industry on climate” and focus buildings toward a “below 2degreeC path”.  http://web.unep.org/climatechange/buildingsday.