Parsons recently received funding from the JPB Foundation to initiate the Healthy Materials Lab. The goal of the lab is to work with all stakeholders to eliminate toxins from building materials, promote the use of healthier materials, and to support the creation of new, non-toxic building materials. The Healthy Materials Lab will be led by Alison Mears, Dean of the School of Design Strategies, and will focus on materials used in affordable housing. As Mears explains, “Our work creates actionable strategies, integrating healthy building protocols, healthy products and green science with design research to directly impact the health of our building materials. We are particularly focused on the well-being of low-income populations, which, typically, are the most vulnerable to the negative effects of such materials.”
The first project of the HML is the Healthy Affordable Materials Project. A three-year, four-partner collaborative funded by The JPB Foundation, the project adopts a systems-based approach to reducing everyday human exposure to toxic chemicals in building products. The HML will work with manufacturers, building owners and developers to replace existing materials with safer, affordable alternatives.
The HML is closely aligned with Building Product Ecosystems. A collaboration between Parsons, The Durst Organization and The City University of New York, the project provides a platform for open discussion and problem solving between a diverse range of New York City entities that normally work in their own fields.
Ultimately, the goal of the Healthy Materials Lab is to use new designs, communications and evaluation capabilities to accelerate the pace of innovation in the building products industry.
“Our aim is to influence the entire housing sector to reduce toxic chemical exposure throughout the entire life cycle of a building material,” Mears said. “Healthier materials options should be available not just to those who can afford them, but to everyone.”
The Healthy Materials Lab was recently featured on Archinect.