By Grey Lee


Over 130 members of our green building community came together on Friday 11/14 to learn and share knowledge about healthy materials in buildings.


We gathered at Google's Kendall Square (Cambridge) office – in their new “bridge space” on the fifth floor.  They have an extensive audio-visual set up and we enjoyed filling up the entire theater.

The Sustainable Design Leaders of New England organized the entire program and Blake Jackson of Tsoi/Kobus Associates (a Chapter Sponsor) served as the MC.

We heard brief presentations from a panel of six experts on various aspects of healthy materials choices in the design and operation of buildings – from the owners' side, manufacturers and advocates.  Below is Nadav Malin from BuidlingGreen and to the left are:

  • Bill Walsh from the Healthy Buildings Network
  • Heather Henriksen of the Harvard Office for Sustainability
  • Denis Darragh from Forbo Flooring
  • Melissa McCullough from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute 
  • Scott Tobias of ASSA ABLOY 

We had a great turnout of many of the leaders of the green building industry in Massachusetts and beyond.  The “unconference” aspect was especially engaging. This program was made possible by the contributions of many, especially the sponsors:

  • Premium Sponsors:
    • A Better City
    • Armstrong
    • Bergmeyer
    • Forbo Flooring
    • Google
    • Knauf Insulation
    • Nelson
    • USGBC MA
  • Sponsors:
    • Boston Society of Architects
    • Gensler
    • Goody Clancy
    • Hydrotect
    • Sasaki
    • Sustainable Minds


The entire group broke out into three rooms and pairs of the speakers toured around, 30 minutes with each group, participating in a crowd-derived conversation.  A lot of specific exploring occurred.  How can manufacturers declare their EPDs w/o losing market share due to “first-declaring penalty?”  How can builders start to look at the longevity of their products?  What is the trade off between longevity and toxicity?  Maybe some products could actually be designed for shorter utilization periods and not have to be so durable, in the way durability efforts generally drive more and more complex and potentially dangerous chemistry…? 

Hat's off to the Sustainable Design Leaders of New England, Healthy Materials Summit Organizing Team!

Congratulations to Arjun Mande of Goody Clancy, Mihir Parikh of A Better City, Anastasia Huggins of Gensler, [me] and Blake Jackson of Tsoi/Kobus!

I'm sure we're already looking ahead to next year's Summit!

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