Contributed by:
Mary Dickinson
Assoc. AIA


Talk About It

About 9 years ago: Patrick J.

Amazing forum! Was great to hear the discussions and see how this movement is gaining momentum. The code radifications that support the tranparency movement are the train tracks that provide structure, but it was evident that the engine for material health and transparency are the people that were involved.

North Texas Leads the Way for Materials Health and Transparency

Until fairly recently, I have felt that teaching people about healthier design materials and gaining the design industries support has been an uphill battle.

However, with the launch of the Health Product Declaration and the ratification LEED v4 which includes credits for transparency and chemical avoidance, the importance of improving material health is quickly gaining momentum.  And we can be proud to say that North Texas is starting to become a leader in addressing this issue due to the commitment of the leadership of our design community.  This was clear then when three of our most influential design organizations - the AIA Dallas Committee on the Environment, USGBC North Texas, and the CSI Dallas Chapter - joined forces to host a conference on ‘Healthy Building Materials’ at the North Texas Sustainable Showcase on July 11, 2013. 

As a participant in the planning of the event, I might be biased, but I heard from numerous attendees that this year’s event was the best since the annual conference was started six years ago.  One speaker, Bill Walsh, the Executive Director of the Healthy Building Network, is no stranger to these conferences and posted a blog titled “The Healthy Heart of Texas.” It was quite complimentary stating that the conference “was in-depth and of a quality that rivaled national events such as Greenbuild, and deep green conferences such as Living Future unConference.”  It must have been the in-depth knowledge of the speakers; the ever-so-eloquent keynote of Bob Harris and his demonstration of basophilic design; the venue at the Dallas Arboretum; the variety of manufacturers showcasing exhibits of responsible materials, or a combination of all that proved the conference a success.  What struck me most was the representation of longtime leadership in the healthy building materials practice coming together and seeing the fruits of their labor.  But just as exciting was watching those in the audience understanding the responsibility of designers to use healthy materials and their commitment to make a change.  We as Texans should be proud we are helping to lead the way!