‘Buyers’ Club’ Flexes Market Muscle in Favor of Healthier Building Materials

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A working group of world-class companies and organizations within the Building Health Initiative band together to request more information and transparency from suppliers

The Building Health Initiative held its inaugural Building Health Forum today at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Mission Bay. During this first event of its kind, a working group of the Initiative’s partners, including Adobe, CalPERS, Facebook, Genentech, Google, Kaiser Permanente, Troon Pacific, and UCSF, announced simple, impactful steps they are taking to foster healthier environments within their local and global projects.

“A healthy environment can be a catalyst for innovation, productivity and the overall well-being of the people who work there,” said Bill Weihl, Infrastructure, Sustainability and Efficiency Director at Facebook. “We have focused on collaboration and open source to drive progress in developing better infrastructure, hardware and buildings—not just for our employees but for all communities. This new initiative will help us continue our efforts toward building healthy environments at scale.”

Unveiled publicly for the first time today, the group’s efforts include:
●    Requesting greater transparency from architects and building product manufacturers about the chemicals used in their products;
●    Utilizing their collective market influence to create demand for new and innovative products that improve the health of the built environment;
●    Recruiting and retaining the best workforce by providing healthy and productive workplaces;
●    Increasing awareness of healthy environments in buildings.

“At Adobe, we have been committed to designing and building the most creative, innovative and healthy workspaces for our employees,” said Michelle Crozier Yates, director of corporate responsibility, Adobe. “This initiative will not only simplify our efforts, but provide all companies with what they need to improve the indoor environments for our greatest asset – our employees.”

The powerful working group is one of a handful of subgroups of the larger Building Health Initiative, an ambitious platform in which industry leaders from multiple sectors pledge to affect positive change for healthier built environments. The unique coalition of 45 companies and institutions include commercial building owners, technology giants, healthcare leaders, architects, engineering firms, product manufacturers, mission-driven nonprofits, and legal professionals.

“We’re excited to see so many prominent organizations come together to ask for transparency and better materials,” said Anthony Ravitz, real estate and workplace services green team lead at Google. “As an industry, the more we know about what’s in different products, the more informed choices we can make.”

Partner companies participating in the Building Health Initiative have made specific pledges in a defined area where they could affect the most change, such as demanding transparency in building materials, conducting groundbreaking research, promoting health and wellness, improving consultation and education, among other areas.

“We’re building the ‘business case’ for healthy buildings,” said Brian Back, Senior VP of the Building Health Initiative. “This is a rare opportunity to foster widespread collective impact on an issue that resonates deeply with people. Both on Silicon Valley tech campuses and in underserved low-income communities across Northern California, our overriding purpose is to reframe green building as a health issue.”

Today’s event, the Building Health Forum, brings together nearly 300 of the world’s preeminent experts and thought leaders pioneering the healthy buildings and healthy communities movement for a series of provocative keynotes, educational sessions, tours and networking receptions.

Speakers at the Forum include Majora Carter, an urban revitalization strategy consultant, real estate developer and Peabody Award winning broadcaster; David Orr, the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College and a James Marsh Professor at the University of Vermont; Dr. Richard Jackson, Professor and Chair of Environmental Health Sciences, Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles; Antwi Akom, Co-Founder of the Institute for Sustainable Economic, Educational, and Environmental Design, Founder and CEO of Streetwize, and Associate Professor of Environmental Sociology, Public Health and STEM Education at San Francisco State University; among many others.

For more information about the Building Health Forum or the Building Health Initiative, please visit http://www.build-health.org.

About the Building Health Initiative
Facilitated by the U.S. Green Building Council – Northern California Chapter (USGBC-NCC), the Building Health Initiative is an ambitious program in which industry leaders from multiple sectors pledge to affect positive change for healthier built environments. The initiative has also spurred powerful cross-sector working groups focused on revolutionizing procurement strategies and fostering diversity and access to healthy buildings in traditionally underserved communities. The unique coalition of 43 companies and institutions includes commercial building owners and tenants, technology giants, healthcare professionals, celebrated architects, leading building and engineering firms, innovative product manufacturers, mission-driven nonprofits, labor organizations, and legal professionals.

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Lex Hundsdorfer
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Brian Back
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