News Brief

USGBC: Put Public Health in the "Front Seat" of Green Building

A new report seeks to bring health and well-being to the forefront of the sustainable design movement.

USGBC is actively brainstorming ways to combine health and green building.

Recognizing that green building could be a tool to address some of our worst public health challenges—such as asthma, obesity, and cancer—the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is taking steps to better align green building goals with a public health agenda, evidenced by a new report titled “Health Is a Human Right. Green Building Can Help.”

The report is based on the discussions of more than 100 experts from a variety of building and health fields whom USGBC gathered for a summit in January 2013. Engaged in their respective fields—architecture, medicine, and product manufacturing—many had never crossed paths before. Launching the interdisciplinary conversation inspired one of the report’s main recommendations that a metrics-based definition of healthy communities, buildings, and interiors serve as a “common grammar” for future collaboration.

Envisioning that the LEED rating systems could play an integral role, the report recommends USGBC clarify how specific credits in the rating systems support human health and translate new health research into design standards. At this year’s Greenbuild conference, USGBC will hold a “Materials and Human Health” pre-event summit designed for product manufacturers and designers to continue the discussion on next steps.

USGBC chairman Rick Fedrizzi wrote in a blog post that even though health has been integral to LEED from the beginning, putting it “in the front seat” could ensure that “green, health, and well-being are part of the same paradigm.”

Published September 30, 2013

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