Course / Online Certificate Program

Healthier Materials: Design and Specification

This course helps designers navigate industry resources and certifications, find and evaluate product options, and apply resources for maximum impact. We look at methods for targeting specific issues in a project and generalized strategies that can apply more universally, highlighting potential benefits and consequences of employing different approaches.

What You Will Learn

  • Be able to set health goals and define metrics specific to your audience and program
  • Work both efficiently and comprehensively by prioritizing impact and utilizing valuable resources
  • Find products that are likely to be healthier options, and evaluate them against your own criteria
  • Understanding materials in context, be able to compare products, assess variables and constraints, and make more informed decisions

Benefits

  • 5 AIA CEU HSW Credits

Contributors

Jim Vallette

Jim Vallette

Research Director, Healthy Building Network

Full Bio

Jim Vallette works to understand and explain industry’s impacts on people and the planet. He has authored dozens of groundbreaking investigative reports, and his findings have supported major global policy developments (e.g., the Basel Convention ban on toxic waste trade and national and international finance bans on overseas fossil fuel extraction). As Research Director of the Healthy Building Network for the last decade, he helped develop its groundbreaking research about how building materials are made and their impacts on building occupants, construction workers, fenceline communities, and the global environment.

Mikhail Davis

Mikhail Davis

Director of Restorative Enterprise, Interface

Full Bio

Mikhail Davis is Director of Restorative Enterprise at Interface, the world’s largest manufacturer of modular carpet. He is responsible for advancing Interface’s globally recognized Mission Zero and Climate Take Back commitments in the Americas by building internal leadership capacity and creating external partnerships. He also chairs the LEED Materials & Resources Technical Advisory Group for the US Green Building Council.

Previously, Mikhail served as environmental icon David Brower’s manager, and spent five years with Blu Skye Sustainability Consulting building sustainable business strategies for Fortune 500 companies. He holds a B.S. in Earth Systems from Stanford University and is a certified Biomimicry Specialist.

Martha Lewis

Martha Lewis

Senior Architect & Material Specialist, Henning Larsen Architects

Full Bio

Martha Lewis is a senior architect at Henning Larsen Architects, where she established an office-wide material database with the firm’s sustainability department and implemented material strategies for projects with a focus on healthy, ethically viable, and environmentally tenable materials. With two decades of professional experience in Copenhagen and Berlin, Martha is currently involved in establishing a Danish material declaration, and is a member of the Buildings as Material Banks shareholders network, which works to establish an EU material passport to provide transparency and optimize value recovery from materials. In 2016, she participated in the advisory group for the Danish Environmental protection Agency’s“Undesirable Substances in Sustainable Buildings”, and she has been involved in the Danish Green Building Council’s adoption of the German building certification system since 2011. Martha holds a MArch from Washington University and a BA from Vassar College.

Gina Ciganik

Gina Ciganik

Chief Executive Officer, Healthy Building Network

Full Bio

An experienced executive and community development leader with a proven track record of providing creative solutions to complex real estate, housing policy, and community health issues, Gina Ciganik is nationally recognized for advancing policy initiatives and producing healthy, high-performance affordable housing. Gina was previously Senior Advisor for Housing Innovation at HBN and created and led their healthy materials expansion into the affordable housing sector with the HomeFree initiative. Prior to joining HBN, she spent 18 years at a Minneapolis-St Paul area affordable housing development organization as the Vice President of Housing Development. Gina led the development of thousands of affordable housing units, culminating in the construction of The Rose, a 90-unit apartment in downtown Minneapolis that set a new national standard for healthy material use in affordable housing.

Mike Manzi

Mike Manzi

Specifications and Document Quality Manager, Bora Architects

Full Bio

Mike Manzi is an Associate Principal at Bora Architects, and manages specifications and document quality. He helps design teams select, specify, and detail materials and systems that contribute positively to human and ecological health. Mike has been involved with the creation and ongoing development of the Health Product Declaration as a founding HPD Collaborative Board member, and currently chairs the Technical Committee, overseeing the continuing evolution of the HPD open standard.

John Amatruda

John Amatruda

Principal, Vidaris

Full Bio

As the leader of Vidaris’ Green Services department, John Amatruda specializes in environmentally conscious design and the evaluation of “green”materials and systems. He has worked as a consultant on over 100 LEED projects nationwide and internationally, using all variations of the LEED commercial program. He has also authored a number of green building studies and publications, including the GSA LEED Cost Study for the US General Services Administration, the NYC Department of Buildings’ Energy Code Compliance Study, the Green Material Selection Guidelines for the web-based Whole Building Design Guide, and the Carbon Reduction Study for the United Nations Headquarters Renovation.

Mr. Amatruda is accredited as an International Assessor under the United Kingdom’s BREEAM green building rating system, and has been a LEED Accredited Professional since 2001. He was the first LEED AP registered in the State of Connecticut, as well as one of the first 30 faculty members hired by the USGBC, and was named a LEED Fellow in 2013.

Suzanne Drake

Suzanne Drake

Research Director, San Francisco Office, Co-Director, Materials Performance Lab Perkins+Will

Full Bio

Suzanne is a Research Director in Perkins+Will’s San Francisco office, co-directing the firm’s Materials Performance Lab. The Lab is the conduit for healthy materials knowledge, research, firm-wide dissemination, and implementation into projects. Her career has focused on commercial interiors, specializing in creating healthy environments, and she draws on over two decades of experience to support client initiatives and environmental goals. Suzanne develops content for the Transparency site, and was instrumental in developing the current Precautionary List, and has Her book EcoSoul: Save the Planet and Yourself by ReThinking your Everyday Habits was published in 2013, and she co-authored three installments of the Healthy Environments whitepaper series, including Strategies for Avoiding Flame Retardants in the Built Environment, What’s New (and What’s Not) With PVC, and Understanding Antimicrobial Ingredients in Building Materials.

Suzanne Lee

Suzanne Lee

Chief Creative Officer, Modern Meadow

Full Bio

Suzanne has 20 years of experience in design research and fashion, including being an early pioneer and proponent of biotechnology in textiles. She started growing microbial materials in 2003 and went on to establish Biocouture, the first biocreative consultancy. In 2014 Suzanne founded Biofabricate, a now annual summit uniting design, biology, and technology. She is a graduate of the celebrated design school Central Saint Martins in London, and her work has been featured widely in the media and exhibited globally. She is the author of Fashioning the Future: Tomorrow’s Wardrobe, and has been named a TED Senior Fellow and a Launch Material Innovator.

Anasa Scott

Anasa Scott

Program Director of Fellowships, Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at the City College of New York

Full Bio

Anasa Scott is Program Director of Fellowships at the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at the City College of New York. As a strategic planning and fund development consultant, Anasa has convened and managed public and private partnerships on community-based economic and housing development in New York City since 2001, and her clients include some of the nation's largest and oldest community development corporations. She was the co-founder and General Manager of Greenproofing, Inc., a sustainability consultancy serving low-income communities, and from 2012 through 2017, Anasa served in various teaching and administrative roles in the MS Strategic Design and Management Program at Parsons School of Design at The New School. Anasa has served as an instructor in the Economics department at CCNY since 2010, and is a contributing author to the University of Pisa's ENDURE project for (social) entrepreneurship. She received her BA and MA in Economics from the Colin Powell School.

Jeff Frost

Jeff Frost

Material Specialist, Brightworks Sustainability

Full Bio

Jeff Frost is a Project Manager at Brightworks Sustainability, a consulting firm that helps clients in over 25 industries establish and implement sustainability programs. He is recognized as a national subject matter expert on a wide array of material issues affecting the built environment.

Jeff is the co-founder of the national mindful MATERIALS program, an industry-led initiative to make it easier for building professionals to select products with health and environmental attributes. He is an invited member of the American Institute of Architects Material Knowledge Working Group and the Health Product Declaration Collaborative, where he co-chairs the Content Inventory Technical Sub-Group, tasked with improving the content and structure of the HPD. He will be joining the USGBC’s MR TAG starting in 2018.

James Connelly

James Connelly

Vice President of Products and Strategic Growth, International Living Futures Institute

Full Bio

A GreenBiz 30 under 30 sustainable business leader, James Connelly provides strategic leadership for the ILFI’s corporate and manufacturing initiatives, including the Living Product Hub, Living Product Challenge, Just, Declare, and the Handprint Label. James leads the Institute’s strategic consulting for corporations and conducts technical consulting for high profile Living Building Challenge projects both in the US and internationally.

Prior to joining the Institute in 2012, James received a Fulbright fellowship to conduct research on green building rating systems in China. James is a frequent national and international speaker on regenerative design, sustainable business, ecological manufacturing, and affordable housing. He is an avid writer, and his research and commentaries have been featured in news outlets such as China Dialogue, Trim Tab, BuildingGreen, GreenBiz, and Engineering News Record.

Frances Yang

Frances Yang

Sustainable Materials and Structures Specialist, Arup

Full Bio

Frances leads the Sustainable Materials Consulting practice for the Americas region of Arup. She serves on the HPDC Technical Committee and recently served as vice-chair of the Materials and Resources Technical Advisory Group of USGBC. She also contributes to the AIA Materials Knowledge working group and the Cradle to Cradle and Carbon Leadership Forum. Frances holds a Masters in engineering from UC Berkeley.

Rhys MacPherson

Rhys MacPherson

Senior Associate, MSR

Full Bio

Rhys joined MSR in 1992 as a student intern, and in 1993 as a full-time staff member. His work at MSR has touched a broad range of projects, including libraries, cultural facilities, spaces for nonprofit organizations, and affordable housing. For Rhys, design goes much deeper than just a building. While building trust and a rapport with clients over the last decade, he has sought to establish a strong and vibrant design language for affordable housing, and has developed a passion for exploring the balance between equity distribution within the affordable housing industry and critical thinking. Rhys has a deep interest in data-driven design, and has been a guest lecturer at numerous national and international conferences. His work has received several awards, including an Urban Land Institute Jack Kemp Excellence in Affordable and Workforce Housing Award for the Rose, a mixed-income housing project in downtown Minneapolis.

Chris Hellstern

Chris Hellstern

Living Building Challenge Services Director, Miller Hull

Full Bio

Chris Hellstern is an author and the Living Building Challenge Services Director with The Miller Hull Partnership in Seattle. His recent book, Living Building Education, chronicles his work and the story behind the Bertschi School Living Building. Chris served as a Cascadia Branch member and Living Building Ambassador for ILFI, founded Seattle 2030 Roundtable, and co-founded the Healthy Materials Collaborative. A Living Future Accredited professional, Chris has been a guest speaker at numerous conferences and universities across the country, and he mentors students about sustainable practices and advocacy. He also publishes articles and volunteers with local school groups.

Jonsara Ruth

Jonsara Ruth

Director of Design

ASID, ASFD

Full Bio

Jonsara Ruth is Design Director at Healthy Materials Lab, Founding Director of the MFA Interior Design Program, and Associate Professor at Parsons School of Design. Here she led AFTERTASTE, a symposium that brings new definition to the field of interiors. Central to her work is listening to and learning from diverse perspectives, and studying human experience, behavior, and health as principal motivations for design. Material curiosities drive her research.

Jonsara is a designer and artist and founded Salty Labs, a collaborative design studio, to improve environmental health while creating viscerally designed spaces, events, and furniture. Previous experience includes leading design of furniture for mass production with materials and manufacturing processes that eliminate risks to human health and the environment. With Q Collection Junior she designed the worlds first Greenguard Certified crib for children.

Jonsara received a Masters of Architecture from Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BFA in Industrial Design from Rhode Island School of Design.

Paul Mellblom

Paul Mellblom

Principal, MSR

Full Bio

Paul has 26 years of professional experience and holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Texas-Austin and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Tulane University. As a registered architect and MSR principal, Paul shares leadership of the firm’s focus on creating highly sustainable and healthy living and work environments. His design work has achieved notable recognition, including an American Institute of Architects (AIA) Minnesota/McKnight Foundation Affordable Housing Design Award for the Trolley Quarter Flats project and an AIA Minnesota Honor Award and Environmental Initiative Award for the Rose mixed-income housing project with Aeon. Paul received the 2013 AIA Minnesota Louis Lundgren Award for his exemplary volunteerism. He actively donates his time, including serving as president of the East Downtown Council and president of the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Museum of American Art.

Jack Dinning

Jack Dinning

Director, Donghia healthier Materials Library

Full Bio

Summer 2016 - present

Since graduating from Parsons Master's in Architecture program in 2016, Jack has been developing strategies that help architects incorporate material health initiatives into practice. These projects have included a collaboration with LTL Architects for a 50,000 square foot Early Childhood Center, learning tools for navigating industry certifications and resources, and materials education platforms for design students and professionals.

This work follows a longstanding commitment to addressing social and environmental challenges through design. Before joining HML and LTL, Jack has been with firms such as LOT-EK, Young Projects, and Ultra-Moderne, addressing issues ranging from the upcycling of building materials to sensory design for children with autism. His work has earned recognitions including the Alpha Rho Chi Medal for professional merit and leadership, the John L. Tishman Scholarship for sustainable design, and most recently, an invitation to the United Nations Global Compact Leaders Summit for transforming management education.

Alison Mears

Alison Mears

Director

AIA, LEED AP

Full Bio

Alison Mears is the Director of the Healthy Materials Lab at Parsons School for Design in New York. She is also co Director, with Bill Walsh, Healthy Building Network, of the Healthy Affordable Materials Project. Previously Dean of the School of Design Strategies and Director of the BFA Architectural Design and Interior Design programs in the School of Constructed Environments (SCE), Parsons, Mears teaches interdisciplinary studios at SCE and in the BS Urban Design program at SDS. Her past projects have engaged a number of U.S. urban contexts, often partnering with New School Milano Policy and Finance graduate students and Parsons students (graduate and undergraduate) with a range of non profit organizations. These studio projects have been situated in New Orleans, as part of the Chase competition; Deanwood, Washington DC, a community-based program that situated Parsons’ 2011 Solar Decathlon Competition in its Deanwood neighborhood (winner Affordability category); Skid Row, Los Angeles with the Skid Row Housing Authority; and Greensboro, North Carolina and Warren, Ohio with a range of local partners. In addition she is a founding Parsons partner of the Building Product Ecosystem project with the Durst Organization, a member of the Flame Retardant working group and teaches the Parsons Building Product Ecosystem seminar related to the project. Mears is lead architect for the design and construction of St. George’s School in Gondar, Ethiopia. She is also an advisor for Donna Karan's Urban Zen Vocational Center, DOT, for Artisans in Port au Prince, Haiti. Mears is a registered architect who previously worked in firms, including Mitchell/Giurgola and Thorpe and Pei Cobb Freed and Partners, New York. She is currently partner in her own architectural practice, Paci + Mears Architects. She holds a M Arch, Columbia University, NY, and a B Arch, Canberra University, Australia.

↑  Glossary