By: Katharine Schwab
Excerpt: "Does calling a building “green” mean it’s healthy? Not according to researchers from the nonprofit research institution Silent Spring, who found dozens of harmful chemicals in newly renovated, LEED-certified low-income public housing in Boston. While some of these chemicals came from outside products the residents brought when they moved in–like cleaning supplies, beauty products, and even furniture–many others came from the building itself.
“We often slap this word ‘green’ in front of things and assume that means something,” says Robin Dodson, the lead author on the paper who studies chemical exposure at Silent Spring. “It was renovated according to ‘green’ standards, and if you could see me, I’m putting that word in quotes.”
The researchers at Silent Spring aren’t alone in calling attention to the harmful chemicals in building materials. The U.S. Green Building Council has come under fire from researchers in the past for presenting a false assurance of health and safety in its LEED-certified buildings. Meanwhile, Google is building a green materials database and decision-making tool meant to make our buildings less poisonous. Dodson’s research, which took years to complete, is a glimpse into an aspect of green architecture about which little is known."