LEED green building standards do a good job to encourage energy-efficient buildings, but they don't do enough to protect human health from, "the chemicals released from building materials, cleaning supplies, fuel combustion, pesticides and other hazardous substances."
So says a new, largely critical report from Environment and Human Health, Inc., (EHHI) a non-profit organization made up of doctors, public health professionals and policy experts who specialize in research examining environmental threats to human health.
In fact, the tighter buildings created by energy conservation efforts concentrate these hazardous substances, increasing the risks to human health, the study finds.
Tighter buildings often reduce the exchange of indoor and outdoor air. "Since outdoor air is often cleaner than indoor air, the reduction of the outdoor-indoor exchange tends to concentrate particles, gases and other chemicals that can lead to more intense human exposures than would be experienced in better-ventilated environments," according to the study summary.
The report faults the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) LEED program in a number of areas: that energy-efficiency is given priority over human health; that no level of LEED certificationsilver, gold or platinumassures health protection; that LEED neglects drinking water quality and workers' occupational risks, and that the it provides a false impress that LEED-certified buildings protect human health.
EHHI recommends a number of changes to the LEED program:
Simplify LEED scoring within its categories.
U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) expand its board expertise to include people in the area of human health.
The federal government to categorize building products to identify which are hazardous, which are deemed safe and which need further testing.
Make the chemical content and country of origin clearly identifiable on all building product labels.
The USGBC to support federal efforts to require testing of building products for their impact on human health.