Materials protocol handbook cover

Prescription for Healthier Building Materials

Materials matter. They are the fabric of our built environment. However, a growing body of environmental health research has ballooned in the last decade, and shown that commonly used building materials often contain chemicals known or suspected to be hazardous to human health. Hazardous materials can also pose impacts on people and natural systems across materials’ life cycles, during extraction, manufacturing, installation, and disposal. 

How can the design and construction industry address these concerns?

Developed by Arup and published through the AIA, the Healthier Materials Protocol offers project teams a way to put these words into action. With contributions from over 35 experts across more than 25 organizations, including numerous signatories to the USGBC Building Health Initiative, the HM Protocol is a first-of-its-kind document for built environment professionals. The guide breaks down the tools available to evaluate materials composition and how to incorporate that knowledge into design. It also provides further guidance on materials selection which will assist teams in achieving LEED, BREEAM, WELL, and LBC Materials petal certification.

Instead of a list of banned materials, this broader set of guidance promotes best practices for choosing and installing products that are healthier over their full life cycle, and provides the following:

  • outlines a framework for designing and building with healthier materials on projects

  • identifies useful resources to aid project teams in the selection of safer alternatives

  • educates readers about the harms of certain types of substances found in building products

Getting to a future where healthier, affordable building products are widely available starts with more project teams knowing how to discern and specify for them. The Healthier Materials Protocol offers an all-in-one primer for anyone who wants to start.

Download the guide