By Grey Lee, Executive Director

Wow! What a great day. Thank you to all who participated. We had a healthy conversation ranging widely across the territory of healthy materials.

It all comes down to demand. We need market participants to care enough to demand and pay for healthy options. It was noted, repeatedly, that healthy materials do not need to cost more than conventional materials. We may just need to adjust our aesthetics and functionality requirements. Not lower our standards, but morph toward more suitable applications for non-toxic materials.

But I digress! 

Overall, we had an excellent event. Hats off to our content organizing committee of Blake Jackson (who also served as MC), Steven Burke, and Shawn Hesse. They convened an excellent panel which people intently listened to for over 2 hours. 

Thank you to the speakers: Greg Norris, Denny Darragh, Brent Ehrlich, Doug Brown, Barbra Batshalom, Monica Nakielski, and Rebecca Callahan Klein. Each was able to provide insight into how researchers, producers, and end-using owners are addressing toxicity in materials. And not just removing toxic components of buildings, but also looking at health holistically – how materials and design choices influence and require new strategies.  It was exciting to hear from them and learn.

We had a great selection of demonstrating partner organization who were meeting and greeting people all morning – including Sustainable Minds, Beachstone, Cold Spring, Purline, Armstrong, and Tremco. It was important to have real healthy materials right there for everyone to check out.

I was especially happy to face the audience – half full of familiar faces, but half full of new members of our Chapter community. People who are all working on health in buildings, who came from places as far as Portland Maine and New Haven Connecticut. I asked: how are we using the built environment, which we have roles in designing and developing, to result in net positive outcomes for our communities?

How are we going to stimulate demand for non-toxic products in buildings? The manufacturers are getting on board – they have the technology to switch the chemistry in their products. And the Living Product Challenge helps identify what to do. Let's push for greater adoption.

The poll we took at the end indicated that we know the products are out there, we just need owners to fit them into project budgets. It is an exciting time to be working on this stuff.

Thank you again to our sponsoring producer partners – lead sponsor Forbo Flooring, and Cold Spring, Shaw, Mats Inc, USG, Beachstone, Sustainable Minds, Armstrong, Triumph, and Tremco

We had great support from our practitioner side sponsors, including: Brightworks, HDR, Perkins+Will, Bergmeyer, Goody Clancy, Linnean Solutions, SPI/Building Ease, Prellwitz Chilinski, and WSP

For four hours in the afternoon, Greg Norris of the International Living Future Institute provided an in-depth workshop on handprinting under the auspices of the Living Product Challenge. There were about 25 participants who took away a much more solid understanding of how their firm can embrace the Challenge for their products and for designers, how to communicate with and look for producers who can get in the game.

We then proceeded to Ryles Jazz Club for a fabulous evening reception hosted by Mohawk Group! They really know how to treat people right – it was awesome. We had great food and a generously open bar, and incredible conversations. It was really the cream of the crop from the community of practitioners – Harvard, USG, Partners, Commonwealth of MA, Bruner Cott, P+W, HMFH and a lot of leading consultants that we all know. The Mohawk team was there in force and shared a brief presentation highlighting their commitment to healthy materials. We also watched their catchy “Believe in Better” video. Thank you to Mohawk for connecting with the Chapter and the ILFI Collaborative here in Massachusetts – we, too, Believe in Better!

During the cocktail reception, a number of us agreed to continue to grow this conversation around healthy materials in buildings. We will start an opt-in list and curate a discussion leading to a follow-on event in three months. I look forward to supporting this effort to shift our built environment to net positive outcomes for health. Stay tuned, thank you all, and keep up the great work!

See more photos at our Flickr page.

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