Update! HEALTHY BUILDING NETWORK IS NOW HABITABLE.
Update! HEALTHY BUILDING NETWORK IS NOW HABITABLE.
Update! HEALTHY BUILDING NETWORK IS NOW HABITABLE.
Update! HEALTHY BUILDING NETWORK IS NOW HABITABLE.
Update! HEALTHY BUILDING NETWORK IS NOW HABITABLE.
Update! HEALTHY BUILDING NETWORK IS NOW HABITABLE.

HBN and Perkins&Will have released a second report aimed at transforming the way project teams select sustainable, low-carbon products. Building on the first report titled “Embodied Carbon and Material Health in Gypsum Drywall and Flooring,” a second report investigating the intersection of carbon and material health is titled “Embodied Carbon and Material Health in Insulation”.

Insulation is a unique product category that can help reduce a building’s operational carbon emissions by optimizing performance, lowering the energy required for heating and cooling. Those same materials can also negatively impact the environment by releasing greenhouse gasses throughout their life cycle. Insulation can also contain toxic chemicals that migrate into interior spaces. This report provides guidance for designers and architects to choose the best materials that takes materials health and embodied carbon into consideration.

Key Highlights from the reports include:

  • Optimized Products for Material Health and Embodied Carbon: The reports show that products improving material health and embodied carbon are available across all the examined product categories: flooring, gypsum drywall, and insulation.
  • Screening for Optimized Product Types: Professionals are advised to first screen for optimized product types before selecting specific products. This approach helps teams capitalize on the fact that the biggest improvements can be made by selecting different product types within a product category.
  • Navigating Potential Contradictions: Acknowledging that embodied carbon and material health considerations are sometimes contradictory, the reports emphasize the importance of reviewing the provided guidance to make informed decisions.

The reports represent a significant step forward in sustainable design practices, offering actionable insights that empower professionals to make environmentally conscious choices without compromising on carbon or health priorities.

HBN and Perkins&Will have released a second report aimed at transforming the way project teams select sustainable, low-carbon products. Building on the first report titled “Embodied Carbon and Material Health in Gypsum Drywall and Flooring,” a second report investigating the intersection of carbon and material health is titled “Embodied Carbon and Material Health in Insulation”.

Insulation is a unique product category that can help reduce a building’s operational carbon emissions by optimizing performance, lowering the energy required for heating and cooling. Those same materials can also negatively impact the environment by releasing greenhouse gasses throughout their life cycle. Insulation can also contain toxic chemicals that migrate into interior spaces. This report provides guidance for designers and architects to choose the best materials that takes materials health and embodied carbon into consideration.

Key Highlights from the reports include:

  • Optimized Products for Material Health and Embodied Carbon: The reports show that products improving material health and embodied carbon are available across all the examined product categories: flooring, gypsum drywall, and insulation.
  • Screening for Optimized Product Types: Professionals are advised to first screen for optimized product types before selecting specific products. This approach helps teams capitalize on the fact that the biggest improvements can be made by selecting different product types within a product category.
  • Navigating Potential Contradictions: Acknowledging that embodied carbon and material health considerations are sometimes contradictory, the reports emphasize the importance of reviewing the provided guidance to make informed decisions.

The reports represent a significant step forward in sustainable design practices, offering actionable insights that empower professionals to make environmentally conscious choices without compromising on carbon or health priorities.

Project teams want buildings that are healthy for people and the planet. Two sometimes competing criteria to evaluate the sustainability of building products are embodied carbon and material health.

For this case study, Perkins&Will partnered with Healthy Building Network to identify key drivers of embodied carbon and material health by looking at specific examples of product categories frequently specified in building projects. Using flooring and drywall as examples, this study identifies some examples of where paths toward low embodied carbon and safer materials align and where they conflict.

The goal of this case study is to translate the learning from embodied carbon assessment tools and material health assessment tools into actionable guidance for manufacturers, project teams, and green building programs that will allow them to optimize decisions and promote and select healthier, low-carbon products that advance a circular economy.

Building products incorporating antimicrobial additives are becoming increasingly prevalent. Paints, and other touchable surfaces such as countertops, and virtually any product considered as an interior finish may contain one or a combination of antimicrobials. These agents are considered pesticides, but their identity—and related hazards—can be difficult for the average person to discover. This lack of transparency creates a hurdle for the informed selection of products with reduced negative impacts.

No evidence yet exists to demonstrate that products intended for use in interior spaces that incorporate antimicrobial additives actually result in healthier populations. Further, antimicrobials may have negative impacts on both people and the environment. This paper, prepared by Perkins&Will in partnership with HBN, aims to present current information about reported or potential health and environmental impacts of antimicrobial substances as commonly used within the building industry, and to assist architects, designers, building owners, tenants, and contractors in understanding those impacts.

In response to growing concerns over COVID-19, Healthy Building Network (HBN) and global architecture and design firm Perkins and Will reexamined and reaffirmed the conclusions and recommendations of this white paper.

This paper was prepared by Perkins+Will, in partnership with Healthy Building Network (HBN), as part of a larger effort to promote health in the built environment. Indoor environments commonly have higher levels of pollutants, and architects and designers may frequently have the opportunity to help reduce or mitigate exposures.

The purpose of this report is to present information on the environmental and health hazards of PVC, with an emphasis on information found in government sources. This report is not intended to be a comprehensive analysis of all aspects of the PVC lifecycle, or a comprehensive comparative analysis of polymer lifecycles. Rather, in light of recent claims that PVC formulas have been improved by reducing certain toxic additives, this paper reviews contemporary research and data to determine if hazards are still associated with the lifecycle of PVC. This research has been surveyed from a perspective consistent with the precautionary principle, which, as applied, means that where there is some evidence of environmental or human health impact of PVC that reasonable alternatives should be used where possible. Furthermore, and more generally, this paper is intended to build greater awareness of this common building material.