This introductory course is designed to provide an understanding of the impact building materials can have on human health. The course will challenge professionals to ask questions about the materials they specify, and will offer suggestions for how they can address these issues in their workplace. This introduction is situated in the context of design practice, with additional information presented as the course progresses. Must be taken as the first course in a four-course series.
What You Will Learn
- Understand the relationships between human health, building materials, chemical toxicity, and environmental exposures
- Ability to integrate these issues within the greater context of building materials and environmental health
- Ability to identify the health and environmental impacts that building products can have throughout their the life cycle
- Apply strategies for addressing the issues around materials and health in design practice
- 4 AIA CEU HSW Credits
- Gain scientific understanding and knowledge of material health from a design perspective
- Enhance your personal design language with technical information
- Learn relevant information directly from designers: the course was created by designers, for designers, with a design perspective
- Diversity of expertise of featured advisors provides a holistic approach to the topic
AIA, LEED AP
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.
Director of Design
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.
Founder and President, Healthy Building Network
Bill Walsh is the Founder and President of the Healthy Building Network (HBN). He is a Visiting Professor at Parsons The New School for Design, and a founding Board Member of the Health Product Declaration (HPD) Collaborative. In 2012 Bill received the US Green Building Council’s Leadership In Advocacy Award and was named a Fellow at the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts. In 2013 Bill was awarded the Healthy Schools Hero by the Healthy Schools Network. Previously he served as a national campaign director at Greenpeace USA, and held staff attorney positions with the US Public Interest Research Group and the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center. He holds a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law and LLM in Public Interest Advocacy.
Former Director of Sustainable Design, SmithgroupJJR
Russell Perry is an architect, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and a LEED Fellow. He has been focused on sustainable design for the past 22 years as a founding partner of the pioneering consultancy William McDonough + Partners and subsequently as the Director of Sustainable Design for SmithGroupJJR, a 1200-person AE firm. He is currently engaged exclusively in initiatives concerning materials and human health. He is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Health Product Declaration Collaborative, developers of the reporting tool that is standardizing industry-wide communication of building material ingredients. Russ brings this expertise to his role as a founding member of the AIA Materials Knowledge Working Group.
President, Cradle to Cradle Certified™
A long-time advocate for “doing the right thing,” Lewis Perkins is a champion for sustainability – personally and professionally. Prior to joining the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, Lewis consulted for companies both big and small on creating programs and awareness for environmental and social initiatives. Perkins led the "green" charge as Director of Sustainable Strategies for The Mohawk Group, a leading carpet manufacturer and commercial division of Mohawk Industries. He continues to draw on this passion and experience to help advance the Institute’s mission of scaling Cradle to Cradle Product Certification worldwide.
Founder, Building Product Ecosystems LLC
Amanda Kaminsky is Founder of Building Product Ecosystems—multi-disciplinary collaboratives that evolve code, infrastructure, and field logistics for optimal systemic health and performance of major building materials. Improvements to product and process are carefully piloted on projects under current development via regular convening of buyers and their manufacturers, recyclers, contractors, designers/engineers, policy makers, and academic researchers.
Before and during the early stages of BPE, Amanda led sustainable construction and procurement efforts at The Durst Organization. Amanda has collaborated extensively with project teams and supply chains on new and existing commercial and residential buildings to optimize materials and systems design, procurement, and building processes from project inception through construction and into ongoing operations. In collaboration with DSNY, she also managed New York City’s first high rise residential organics collection/compost program. Amanda Chairs the Health Product Declaration Collaborative board, and is a director on the board of Healthy Building Network.
Program Officer, Environment, The JPB Foundation
Ogonnaya Dotson-Newman is a Program Officer for Environment at The JPB Foundation and was previously the Assistant Director of Public Housing and Health for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the New York City Housing Authority. Prior to that, she was the Director of Environmental Health at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, a nonprofit based in New York City. Ogonnaya holds a Bachelors in environmental science focusing on the historical implications of place and space on the South Side of Chicago from DePaul University, and a Masters in Public Health from Loma Linda University. Her desire to use a variety of research methods to translate science for communities of color and low income has remained at the center of her interest for a number of years.
Professor Emeritus of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts Lowell
Ken Geiser is Professor Emeritus of Work Environment at University of Massachusetts Lowell, and a founder and past director of the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute and the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production. His research and writing focus on cleaner production, pollution prevention, toxic chemicals management, international chemicals policy, safer technologies, and green chemistry. He is the author of Materials Matter: Towards a Sustainable Materials Policy and Chemicals without Harm, Policies for a Sustainable World. Ken was also one of the lead authors of the 2013 United Nations Global Chemicals Outlook.
Ken is a founding board member of National Toxics Campaign,Environmental Health Strategy Center, Healthy Building Network, International Campaign for Responsible Technologies, and Story of Stuff. He is currently the Chair of the Board of both Clean Production Action and Coming Clean, and has served as a Co-Chair of California’s Green Ribbon Science Panel and a Senior Fellow with the U.S. Green Building Council.
Senior Consultant, Colden Corporation
Catherine Bobenhausen is Senior Consultant in New York City, with the occupational health and safety firm, Colden Corporation. She is recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council as a subject matter expert for indoor air quality testing and building product emissions. A certified industrial hygienist, Fellow in the American Industrial Hygiene Association, and an Authorized GreenScreen Practitioner, Catherine has co-chaired the Harmonization working group of the Health Product Declaration Collaborative. She holds a Master of Science, Toxicology Option, from New Jersey Institute of Technology Institute of Hazardous & Toxic Waste Management, with graduate coursework from two medical schools.
Professor of Civil Engineering, University of Toronto
Jeff is a professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Toronto, and he also holds an appointment at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Previously an associate professor at the University of Texas, Austin for 10 years, Jeff’s research focuses on healthy and sustainable buildings, control of indoor air pollutants, and ventilation and indoor air quality in residential and commercial buildings. He is also keenly interested in ensuring that good research works its way into public education and practice. Dr. Siegel has a Ph.D. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S. in Engineering from Swarthmore College. He is a prolific researcher, speaker, and an active member of the ISIAQ (International Society for Indoor Air Quality and Climate) and ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineering).
SF Shines Project Manager, City and County of San Francisco
Darcy Bender is a designer living in San Francisco. She holds a Bachelor's of Architecture from the University of Oregon and a Master's in Design and Urban Ecology from Parsons School of Design. She has experience working in affordable housing construction, retail display, academic research, and municipal government. With these varied perspectives, her work aims to make connections across scales, geographies, and cultures. She has a keen interest in understanding systems of waste and how they are present in our everyday lives. Darcy's work examines the social and technical infrastructures that shape waste landscapes and influence the health of human and non-human entities. She currently works as a Project Manager for the City and County of San Francisco.
Director of Restorative Enterprise, Interface
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.
Founder & President, CarpetCycle LLC
Sean Ragiel has more than 18 years of comprehensive experience in the daily operations, management, and analysis of waste management processes. In addition to his previous roles with The Composting Council and Kennedy and Donkin, Rust Ltd., Sean served as an implementation manager for Waste Management Inc., leading initiatives to increase collection productivity and reduce operating costs. His deep passion for and extensive knowledge of the field inspired him to found CarpetCycle in 1999. Today, more than 200-million pounds of carpet and post-consumer materials have been diverted from landfills since the company's inception. Sean has a bachelor of science in biological sciences from Carnegie Mellon University and is a proud member of the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) Board of Directors.
Dr. Maida Galvez
Associate Professor of Environmental Medicine and Public Health and Pediatrics, Mount Sinai
Dr. Maida Galvez is an Associate Professor of Environmental Medicine and Public Health & Pediatrics and Director of the Region 2 Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit at Mount Sinai. Through the Environmental Pediatrics Fellowship at Mount Sinai, she was one of the first trainees in Environmental Pediatrics in the United States. She currently works as the Assistant Director of Community Engagement for the Mount Sinai NIH Clinical Translational Science Award, the Assistant Director of the Community Engagement Core for the NIEHS P30 Transdisciplinary Center for Early Environmental Exposures at Mount Sinai, and as a member of the CDC/APHA National Environmental Health Partnership Council. Dr. Galvez previously served on the EPA’s federal advisory board for the Office of Children’s Health Protection, and as president of District 2 Chapter 3 of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She was a recipient of the 2016 EPA Environmental Champion Award and was recently inducted into the Delta Omega Public Health Honor Society.
Executive Director, Health Product Declaration Collaborative
Wendy Vittori joined the Health Product Declaration Collaborative as Executive Director in May 2015. An accomplished business executive, Ms. Vittori was most recently founder and principal consultant of Vittori Consulting LLC, which provides executive counsel on innovative approaches for strategic management and organization performance to organizations in the private, public and non-profit sectors. In this capacity she was engaged with the HPDC as a strategic advisor from its inception. Previously, she was a senior executive with both Intel and Motorola, where she was a leader of open industry standards. She serves on several non-profit boards focused on the economic development of the Arizona-Sonora region, and is an associate faculty member at the ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation Non-Profit Management Institute. Having begun her career as a software engineer, Ms. Vittori is a graduate of Harvard College, received her MBA from Northeastern University, and was a doctoral candidate at the Harvard Business School.
Research Director, Healthy Building Network
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.