Thursday, June 17, 2010

Do USGBC Standards Ignore Public Health?

A report recently released by Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI) challenges the U.S. Green Building Council to strengthen their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards when it comes to human health. EHHI is a nonprofit organization composed of doctors, public health professionals and policy experts who specialize in research that examines environmental threats to human health. In the report, "LEED Certification: Where Energy Efficiency Collides with Human Health," EHHI says even USGBC's Platinum level award does little to ensure that hazardous chemicals are kept out of certified buildings.

The lead author of the study, John Wargo, Ph.D., professor of Risk Analysis and Environmental Policy at Yale University, says the following: "Although the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification program has effectively encouraged energy efficiency in buildings, tighter buildings often concentrate chemicals released from building materials, cleaning supplies, fuel combustion, pesticides and other hazardous substances."

EHHI is especially concerned that the LEED program is now providing the false impression that the buildings it certifies protect human health. EHHI says USGBC's Platinum rating is attainable without earning any credits for indoor air quality protection. (Green Lodging News reported earlier this year that LEED certified hotels can include smoking rooms. See article.)

EHHI recommends that numerous changes be made to the LEED program so that it becomes more health protective. To learn more about EHHI's findings and recommendations, click here. The report is a very important document.

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