WASHINGTON -- January 10 -- The Healthy Building Network (HBN), an environmental advocacy organization, today denounced proposals drafted by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) that advance the interests of chemical and timber industry trade groups at the expense of growing market trends favoring safer and healthier building materials.
In late December, a USGBC task force considering whether to offer a credit for PVC elimination under its LEED green building rating system issued a draft report concluding that PVC "does not emerge as a clear winner or loser" as a green building material. The task force adopted recommendations of industry trade groups, and rejected approaches recommended by environmental health experts.
"The USGBC's proposals utilize discredited 'cigarette science' to undermine leaders in the green building field, contradict established environmental policy goals, and threaten emerging market trends moving away from PVC, the worst plastic for the environment," said Bill Walsh, National Coordinator of HBN.
The USGBC's draft finding contradicts decisions industry leaders such as Kaiser Permanente, Shaw Carpet, and McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry, green building leaders that have taken steps to eliminate PVC, the world's largest material source of dioxin, the most toxic substance known to science.
PVC or vinyl plastic has become a major building material, used for pipes, flooring, wall coverings, and more. Because production, use, and disposal of PVC poses substantial environmental and human health hazards, national, state, and local governments, manufacturers, and green building professionals have eliminated certain uses of PVC for environmental reasons.
A separate USGBC task force proposed the recognition of timber industry wood certification standards condemned by forest conservation groups and leaders in the sustainable wood products business. This will undermine the widely accepted Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification of wood products
"PVC and wood from clearcut forests are the antitheses of green building materials. By endorsing their use, the USGBC is risking its leadership in the field," said Walsh. Public comments on both draft proposals are due in February.