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Engagement & Education Are Key to Enhancing Understanding of the Products of Chemistry

Jenny Heumann Godes

 For decades, organizations like the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the Green Building Initiative (GBI), and the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) have been leaders in educating architects, builders, designers and other stakeholders on the importance of improving the health, environmental and sustainability impacts of buildings and materials. These efforts have led to a growing recognition that buildings can positively impact the health and wellbeing of people, the communities where they live and the environment as a whole.

As an industry, it is critical that we work with these leading organizations and educate their stakeholders on informed decision-making processes which can drive health and sustainability improvements and broaden understanding of how material science and the products of chemistry enable this important pursuit.

That is why the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and ASID came together to create a new issue brief to help educate building and interior design professionals about the role of chemistry in building products and key considerations for material selection and specification. Following several roundtable discussions with interior design stakeholders, architects, material science and other built environment professionals, ACC and ASID set out to develop an easy-to-use guide that helps the design community better understand and implement science-based materials selection processes. Working together, ACC and ASID seek to demystify chemistry in materials and make the connection between interior design and chemistry.

Chemistry in Material Selection & Specification: Key Considerations provides a foundational overview of the importance of chemistry in driving safety and sustainability in buildings, and guides interior designers through key questions and topics to consider during materials specification process, including product application and use, key performance considerations, installation and maintenance, and end-of-life, among others, to help enable more informed product choices. Considerations outlined include:

  • What are the key health and safety needs in the project?
  • What are key properties needed in the material? (e.g., durability, flame retardant, cleanability, disinfection, etc.)
  • What are the trade-offs among different ingredient and material choices in relation to performance, sustainability, and potential human health impacts?
  • What is the purpose of the chemical included in the material/product?
  • How is the chemical used in the formulation of the material/product?
  • How is the finished material/product typically disposed?
Susan Chung, Ph.D., vice president of research and knowledge at ASID
Curiosity and conversations can enhance learning experiences. This issue brief prompts interior design professionals with questions on how to approach chemistry in the materials they select and specify, encouraging them to converse with material science professionals to get to the answers they need to reach their project goals. We see this as a foundation for building industry professionals to come together and collaborate for a better, healthier, and sustainable future.

The issue brief exemplifies what our organizations can accomplish when we combine our knowledge and expertise and work together to tackle complex and critical issues. Keep an eye out for more from ACC and ASID, as we build and grow our partnership to help drive the world to a healthier and more sustainable future.

For more information on chemistry in building and construction, visit www.BuildingwithChemistry.com.

About the Author
American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care®; common sense advocacy designed to address major public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. The business of chemistry is a $486 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation's economy. It is among the largest exporters in the nation, accounting for ten percent of all U.S. goods exports. Chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development. Safety and security have always been primary concerns of ACC members, and they have intensified their efforts, working closely with government agencies to improve security and to defend against any threat to the nation’s critical infrastructure.

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