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February 20, 2013 -
Today's tip is about what to watch for in 2013 regarding the debate over "red list" chemicals in green building products.
Each year, green building consultant Jerry Yudelson puts out a fascinating list of his Top 10 Megatrends for the green building industry. Of particular interest this year is #8 on the list: "Red list" chemicals will become an increasing source of contention in the industry.
It's hard to imagine this issue being any MORE contentious than it already is, but I think Yudelson is right. In 2013, the stakes will be raised. As you may know, the new LEEDv4 rating system is due out this full (assuming the rating system is approved by USGBC membership this summer), complete with new credits (MRc2 and MRc3) for "building product disclosure and optimization - sourcing of raw materials" and "building product disclosure and optimization - material ingredients." Each of these credits is intended "to encourage the use of products and materials for which life-cycle information is available and that have environmentally, economically, and socially preferable life-cycle impacts."
That may seem like a broad definition for product selection or for avoiding certain materials, but when you get into the nitty-gritty, what it actually means was odious enough to several industry trade groups - including the American Chemistry Council - that they decided to start their own organization. The American High-Performance Building Coalition is dedicated to "the development of green building standards through consensus-based processes derived from data and performance-driven criteria." So far, however, there hasn't been much activity beyond the group's founding and initial PR push. There is a good chance that'll change dramatically in 2013.