For my first blog for Schneider Electric, I’d like to write about creating healthier building environments. How many of you, while at the grocery store, always look at the box of food to see what ingredients were used to make it? The same thought can be used when looking at buildings. What are they being made of, and is it important to have more disclosure with the components of the individual materials? As designers, we know if the building is made of concrete, metal, wood, plastic, etc. But what about the chemicals used to create other building materials and interior finishes?
There is a website called Pharos Project that allows project teams to closer study some of the materials and finishes used in buildings. It was initially created for healthcare facilities, but can really be used for any building type. The website provides a library of materials and products and then ranks them based on VOCs, toxins and energy to manufacturer the product. Then it takes a step further and analyzes the chemicals used in the material. It identifies any hazardous concerns based on authoritative and warning lists.
This allows project teams to better understand what they are putting into their buildings and if there is any opportunity to consider using a different material or product. As an architect, I appreciate knowing this up front. As an occupant of the building, you can be assured that the places where people live and work were designed with maximum energy efficiency, sustainability, AND safety in mind.
Chris Mundell is the Vice President/Sustainable Design Coordinator at HKS, Inc. In his 18-year career, Chris has worked on various architectural project types including healthcare, education, and residential. In 2008, Chris began a dedicated role of managing sustainable services and education at HKS, Inc. He is responsible for assisting project design teams with sustainable strategies, managing LEED projects, and researching new and upcoming sustainable products and technologies.