End of the Rainbow: A Vision for the Future of Building Materials

Chris Pyke
A revolution in the consideration of the impacts of products used in our built environment begins with more transparency surrounding the chemical constituents of building products.

The products used to create and operate our homes and commercial buildings have far-reaching consequences for human health and the environment. Today, we are in the middle of revolution in the consideration of the attributes and impacts of the products used in our built environments. Many experts and advocacy groups, including USGBC, have reached a consensus that this revolution begins with more transparency surrounding the chemical constituents of building products. They argue that we should know, in fact have a right to know, more about what is in the products used to create our homes and workplaces. As we move forward on this first step, there is an increasingly urgent question: Where does this revolution lead us? What is the end game? What does success look like?

“They argue that we should know, in fact have a right to know, more about what is in the products used to create our homes and workplaces.”

Personally, I find these questions to be compelling and daunting. I don’t believe that they have easy answers. I do know that thoughtful people are debating these issues around conference tables and on bar stools across the United States and around the world. For some, the end game is actionable transparency – the ubiquitous availability of information to guide individual decision making. For others, the vision is one where all choices are healthy, and toxic or hazardous products are driven from the marketplace.

I think the green building industry can benefit from these thoughts, and I have challenged our colleagues to share some of their perspectives on a vision for the future of building materials. Where will this road go and how the world will work in 5, 10+ years?

I invite you to consider their ideas and perhaps contribute your own. If you would like to add your voice, please contact us by email at info@gbig.org.

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Chris Pyke
USGBC Vice President of Research, directing a diverse research portfolio leveraging green building project experience to gain practical insights into building performance, occupant experience, and market trends.