Despite almost 3 decades of progress on green building internationally, and marked success made in reductions in energy and water consumption and solid waste disposal, many of the ingredients and processes used to manufacture and install common building materials are still quite toxic.
In early 2019, Austin Energy Green Building began a process to update its voluntary rating system for Single Family and Apartment buildings. These Recommendations were submitted as ideas for improvement of building materials, as well as energy and water reduction.
I have debated whether to post these Recommendations for some time. There are several reasons.
- Green building is sometimes complicated, with a number of different approaches to it. There are almost 60 recommendations in this proposal. Almost every one of them can have permutations.
- The path for public comment and influence in Austin Energy’s update process has been spotty and to a degree confusing.
- Some Austin Energy staff have been underwhelmed at the opportunities for change. They have told me that asking to take toxic materials out of new homes is too challenging for the average builder, at least on a large scale.
- Most challenging is that, relatively speaking, not a lot of people see the dangers of toxic building materials. While global warming is producing dramatic climate changes that are increasingly difficult to ignore, dangers of toxic building products are usually more subtle than hurricanes and heat waves.
Unless you are the one that gets sick.
The dangers are quite real, and Austin can serve as a role model for the country by being the first to limit or ban these materials in new homes.
Click the picture below to download the Recommendations.