The promotion of health through building design, construction, and operation is a long-standing shared value within the green building movement. Green building rating systems recognize and reward strategies that promote occupant comfort and mitigate health threats at local, regional, and global scales.

Building materials play an increasingly important role in health outcomes with implications across a range of spatial and temporal scales. Concern often begins with individual building occupants and expands to include impacts across the building lifecycle and throughout the product supply chain. The U.S. Green Building Council is working to raise awareness of these issues through its LEED, Materials and Health Initiative and new features in the LEED version 4 rating system (e.g., the material ingredient disclosure and optimization credit).

The architecture and design community has begun to consider the implications of these issues. For some architects, there is a growing sense of urgency to address potential health hazards associated with materials. For others, there is a growth sense of concern that these issues are outside of conventional areas of expertise and responsibility. For architectural and design educators, these issues raise questions about the types of information and training that should be provided for the next generation of professionals.

This half-day session, sponsored by The Catholic University of America and USGBC, explores the architect’s evolving role in materials selection and evaluation through talks and panel discussions. Leading educators, researchers, and practitioners will challenge participants to consider the implications of:

• Convergence between issues in public health, supply chain transparency, and materials innovation.
• Growing demand for architects and designers to consider the health dimensions of buildings materials.
• Potential changes in the skills and knowledge required for future architects and designers.
• Opportunities and risks created by greater consideration of health and environmental attributes of building materials.

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