Promoting Green Building as a Matter of Health

Office Hall GreenThe Northern California Chapter of the USGBC is joining forces with several major companies and institutions to launch the Building Health Challenge, a two-year program with a mission to elevate green building as a public health benefit and accelerate the development of transparency standards in building materials. Among the 27 partners are Adobe, Genentech, Google, Kaiser Permanente, and salesforce.com, marking the first time that major corporations have publicly committed to improving human health through green building practices.

The initiative will facilitate the sharing of best practices and collaboration among a unique coalition of commercial building owners and tenants; architects, engineers and builders; building product manufacturers; legal professionals; labor and healthcare professionals and institutions.

The Building Health Initiative will:

  • Frame green as a health issue
  • Expand the sustainability conversation
  • Elevate the topic within the industry
  • Educate about the health impacts of the built environment
  • Integrate diverse stakeholders – real estate, building, legal, and healthcare professionals and institutions

Green Highrise Roof

“There is a growing recognition in medicine that the built environment has significant health impacts,” says advisory board member Elizabeth Baca, M.D., M.P.A. “Physicians want to understand the underlying causes of their patients’ conditions. That’s why we ask, ‘Where do you work, live and play?’ It is imperative that the medical profession and building industries learn from one another about the health impacts of the built environment.”

In phase one of the initiative, participating companies have pledged to develop procurement practices and processes that consider materials transparency and emerging standards. In addition, Adobe will study its LEED certified workplaces to determine if they measurably contribute to more collaborative, creative, innovative and healthy employees.

While LEED was initially intended to make buildings more energy efficient and reduce the carbon footprint of the built environment, there is evidence of the added benefit of improved concentration and boosted productivity among the buildings’ inhabitants. LEED-certified buildings have  in fact proved to be enormously popular with employees – healthy buildings, whether at schools, workplaces or housing, are seen as key to building healthy communities.


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