Where Did My Phthalates Go?

October 8, 2012
Amy Solomon

In early 2013, my colleagues and I will move into the Bullitt Foundation’s new offices in a remarkable soon-to-be completed building.  The 50,000 square foot Bullitt Center in Seattle will be the world’s largest commercial living building.  This project is more than a major mission-related investment.  It represents the Bullitt Foundation’s willingness to demonstrate how philanthropy can bear risks and catalyze changes for health, the environment, and sustainability.

To earn the Living Building certification, the Center has to meet extensive performance standards across twelve dimensions including energy, water, health, transit, and equity. The building materials standards required that it not contain any of 14 hazardous materials that comprise a “Red List,” which includes cadmium, lead, mercury, PVC’s and other substances commonly found in all commercial buildings. Here’s more about the materials vetting process.

We have fabulous success stories to share about materials suppliers. For instance, in order to be eligible for consideration as a supplier, one company reformulated its vapor barrier product to remove phthalates, a Red List chemical. This is a super example of market transformation made possible by philanthropic investment.  Our team also created a searchable database that will be open sourced so that subsequent projects can benefit from what we have learned.

To hear more about the project, please join me on an October 15 funder call co-sponsored by the Sustainability Funders, HEFN, and the TFN Green Building Green Neighborhoods Working Group.  More information is available here or e-mail elenisotos@gmail.com for details.

This week's post was written by HEFN member Amy Solomon, a program officer with the Bullitt Foundation in Seattle. She has extensive experience in policy and program development in natural resources, environmental, and sustainability issues.

Additional resources:

Visit the Bullitt Center blog for updates on construction

Check out DECLARE, a new tool for ingredient labeling for building materials

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