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Issue 4.2

Enhancing the Human Condition: Reducing Building Material Toxicity by Design

Architects play a critical role in reducing building material toxicity and protecting occupants’ health. This paper reviews the metrics used by third-party rating systems, such as LEED, LBC, and WELL, which have traditionally relied on differing testing requirements, but are increasingly aligned with each other. Reducing the exposure to toxic chemicals can best be accomplished by utilizing databases and material certifications, such as Declare, HPDs, and EPDs to identify toxin-free products as well as using specifications in defining desirable attributes, testing requirements, and certifications for building materials. This article also outlines strategies for setting clear goals, developing firm-wide policies, and participating in cross-industry dialogue leading to improved building material quality and reduced occupant exposure to VOCs and other toxins.

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