Avoiding Toxic Chemicals

There are tens of thousands of unregulated chemicals used in our building products, so how do you know which ones are hazardous?

These articles look at some of the most-toxic chemicals, why they are hazardous, which product groups contain them, and alternatives to using them.

You’ll learn about:

  • the burgeoning green chemistry movement

  • tools like Health Product Declarations that tell us what’s in products

  • formaldehyde

  • polyvinyl chloride

  • bisphenol-A

  • flame retardants

  • perfluorinated compounds (PFCs)

We also offer guidance on design decisions that can reduce or eliminate the need for many of these problematic compounds.

Avoiding Toxic Chemicals

Deep Dives

Get up to speed on complex topics. You can also earn CEUs and download PDF Spotlight Reports.


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  • The Cost of Comfort: Climate Change and Refrigerants

    Feature Article

    Refrigerants with very high global warming potential can negate the energy-efficiency benefits of many HVAC systems, including popular heat pumps.

  • Better Steel, Lower Impacts

    Feature Article

    Steel’s reputation for high embodied energy and carbon emissions are well documented, but improvements in processing, product selection, and end use can minimize these impacts.

  • Pest Prevention: Steps Designers Can Take

    Feature Article

    Integrated pest management (IPM) design strategies can reduce structural damage and unsanitary conditions, and improve our community’s health. 

  • VOCs: Why They’re Still Here and What You Can Do About It

    Feature Article

    “Sick building syndrome” was one of the first problems the green building community tried to solve. We’ve come a long way, but we’re not done yet.

Quick Takes

Jump straight to the essentials with these short explanations of green building concepts.


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  • What's Your Hazard Avoidance Profile?

    Infographic

    How early or late are you when it comes to jumping on the bandwagon to avoid toxic chemicals in buildings? Find yourself on the hazard avoidance curve.

  • HPD Quick-Start Guide: 5 Easy Steps

    Infographic

    How to get solid information from a Health Product Declaration (HPD), in just five steps.

  • The 12 Product Rules

    Infographic

    These 12 product rules provide a simple approach to selecting better, healthier, and more environmentally responsible building products and materials.

  • VOC Testing: What It Can and Can’t Tell You

    Primer

    “Section 01350” has come a long way since it acquired its curious nickname. Here’s what it can tell you about indoor air quality—and what it can’t.

Product Guidance

Unbiased information from our product experts helps you separate green from greenwash.


In The News

We break news down to the essentials and provide expert analysis.


Perspective

Thought-provoking opinions from the most trusted minds in sustainability.


Learning Resources

A wide range of education options, with automatic reporting for AIA and GBCI.


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  • Spec This, Not That: Avoiding Toxic Chemicals in Commercial Building Projects

    PDF Report

    Spec This, Not That details approaches used by architects, designers, contractors, and building owners to reduce chemical hazards in their building projects. It also includes at-your-fingertips insights for designers and spec writers on which hazards to watch out for in the major building product and material categories.

  • The Cost of Comfort: Climate Change and Refrigerants

    Feature Article

    Refrigerants with very high global warming potential can negate the energy-efficiency benefits of many HVAC systems, including popular heat pumps.

  • Better Steel, Lower Impacts

    Feature Article

    Steel’s reputation for high embodied energy and carbon emissions are well documented, but improvements in processing, product selection, and end use can minimize these impacts.

  • Pest Prevention: Steps Designers Can Take

    Feature Article

    Integrated pest management (IPM) design strategies can reduce structural damage and unsanitary conditions, and improve our community’s health. 

Just For Fun

Something weird happens every April at BuildingGreen...


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  • OK COVID, It’s HAMMER Time!

    April Fools

    COVID has upended our lives, homes, and offices. It’s time to fight back with HAMMER brand biocidal antifungal nonviral germicidal disinfectant antimicrobial therapeutic (BANGDAT) sprays, coatings, and composites.