Primer

Green Chemistry Meets Green Building

What is green chemistry, and how does it fit into LEED? We explain the relationship—and some tensions.

Green building and green chemistry sound like a natural fit, but until recently the two concepts didn’t have much interaction, at least explicitly. That’s changed with the introduction of green chemistry into the LEED v4 rating systems (see USGBC, Chemical Industry Reach Historic Compromise on Product Optimization). But how does green chemistry relate to other strategies for avoiding toxic chemicals in building products?

At its core, green chemistry suggests that chemical and product manufacturers should first reduce impacts like waste and toxicity, and then manage any remaining risks to the environment or human health. Paul Anastas and John Warner developed the original 12 Principles of Green Chemistry in the 1990s, which we’ve restated here:

Published January 4, 2016