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Transparency and Material Health in Practice: A Discussion Series

Hear from architecture and design practitioners how they have implemented transparency and material health in their practice and projects.  Each session is a 60-90 minute video of a live audience, panel discussion.  

  • New York City Series – 4 practitioner panel discussions, co-sponsored and hosted by Parsons School of Design, Healthy Materials Lab – September 2018-January 2019
  • Portland, Oregon Series – 4 practitioner panel discussions, co-sponsored by Portland Materials Transparency Collaborative and hosted at Bora Architects, AIA Portland – May 2019-October 2019
  • Additional series are being planned – if you would like to host a Discussion Series, please contact us at:

New York City Discussion Series: Managing Transparency and Material Health in Practice

Parsons Healthy Materials Lab and Health Product Declaration Collaborative (HPDC) host the first Discussion Series:  Transparency and Material Health In Practice in New York City at Parsons School of Design. 

Discussion #1
September 18, 2018

Firm Level Introduction Issues

Discussion #2
October 9, 2018

Using Transparency & Material Health Information

Discussion #3
October 30, 2018

Improving Product Decisions with Transparency & Material Health Information

Discussion #4
January 23, 2019

Material Health in Affordable Housing & Beyond

Panelist shared how they’ve addressed the firm-level administrative and management issues. Topics included: risk and liability management, specifications, interfacing with contractors, and presenting to clients/ROI for building owners.

Panelists provided an overview of transparency reports, material health databases and libraries available for use by architecture and design practices.  Topics included: practical approaches to integrating tools and information into existing firm libraries, techniques used by design professionals in project documentation and specifications, and how to obtain LEED/WELL and other building certification credits.

Panelists discussed how to build firm commitment and practitioner knowledge of transparency within architecture and design firms.  Topics included: available decision-making frameworks for integrating material health attributes with cost, performance and other product decision parameters, and identification of tools to support next steps in selecting and specifying healthier building products.

Panelists discussed the particular needs of vulnerable populations and how to incorporate material health into practice and affordable housing projects. Topics included: funding challenges, changes in design practice and the environmental and social benefits for occupants, transformation of architecture and design by new material health practices.

Portland Discussion Series: Managing Transparency and Material Health in Practice

Portland Materials Transparency Collaborative (PMTC) and Health Product Declaration Collaborative (HPDC) host the continuing Discussion Series: Transparency and Material Health In Practice in Portland at Bora Architects.

Discussion #1
April 16, 2019

From Specs to the Jobsite: The Contractor as Linchpin

Discussion #2
May 7, 2019

Material Health in Affordable Housing: A Team Approach

Discussion #3
June 4, 2019

Healthy Product Selection Using Transparency Data

Discussion #4
Upcoming: October 15, 2019

Best Practices in Material Health: The Owner’s Perspective

Contractors play a key role in the materials that are installed in building projects.  This discussion brings together contractors to discuss how new client requirements for healthier, lower impact materials are changing the way they procure products.  We will address the hard questions including cost, timelines, the risk around using new types of materials, and the greater imperatives that make better materials worth the extra work.

Each building product and material used in construction has a direct impact on resident health and wellbeing. The aggregation of these effects on an individual can be significant, especially when considering vulnerable populations, such as those served by Affordable Housing.  This discussion will bring together developers, advocates and researchers alike to discuss how the Affordable Housing industry may better serve human health in their project development process.  Where are the biggest opportunities and roadblocks?  What tools and research are available?  How do we come together to holistically create new partnerships and streamline the process for those selecting materials?

One of the biggest challenges our industry has faced is making product selection tangible for our colleagues. There is a knowledge gap that exists between the leading innovations around health and sustainability and the vast majority of our industry; including designers, contractors and manufacturers. There is no one answer to this challenge and this session will explore a variety of ways that firms are tackling product selection to raise the overall awareness of their clients and colleagues and translating product attributes into better selection practices.

Owners are an integral part of the material transparency movement. Finding success requires building consensus with multiple stakeholders around transparency and the values alignment of different certification standards like LEED, WELL, and Living Building Challenge. This panel will feature owners representing a wide range of public and private organizations who have a vested interest in material transparency. Topics will include aligning sustainable materials goals, including human health and embodied carbon, with organizational values, return on investment, and breaking down barriers to allow growth in owner engagement.