Event COTE - Environmental Justice in the Chemical Age

May 17, 2021 - 12:00pm

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Zoom meeting info will be sent to registered attendees. Register below.


The COTE H&W Committee is thrilled to host speakers from the Healthy Building Network (HBN). For those of you first hearing about HBN, they are a powerhouse in the healthy materials space and are committed to education and advocacy to promote public health, equity and justice. Some of the amazing resources they’ve contributed to include:

  • Pharos (a database of chemicals, polymers, metals, and other substances and their associated health impacts)
  • HPDs (Health Product Declarations) (official product makeup transparency documentation)
  • HomeFree (HBN’s initiative to support affordable housing with information about less toxic building materials)

In this seminar, we discuss the science behind and impact of toxic chemicals and exposures from the lens of environmental justice. Specifically, we discuss how toxic chemicals used in building materials can affect human and environmental health and why they have a disproportionate impact on children and low-income and BIPOC communities. We discuss the current regulatory framework and shed light on the existing protections (or lack thereof) for communities adjacent to where toxic chemicals are manufactured, used, and disposed of. Finally, we will share tools and resources available to practitioners to select healthier materials in affordable housing projects.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Become aware of exposures to toxic chemicals in building materials.
  2. Recognize that the toxic exposures are disproportionally impacting children, low-income and BIPOC communities.
  3. Analyze the current regulatory framework for toxic chemicals in the US, or the lack thereof.
  4. Utilize important tools and resources available to architects to select healthier materials in all projects, especially affordable housing.


Roberto Valle Kinloch
Roberto Valle Kinloch

Roberto Valle Kinloch, HomeFree manager, leads HBN's HomeFree program, with a focus on building the capacity of affordable housing leaders to adopt and make informed decisions about healthier building materials and practices. Roberto has 10 years of experience working with local government, nonprofits, and the private sector delivering resource efficiency solutions through an equity lens. Before joining HBN, Roberto developed a plastic-neutral strategy for Burt’s Bees in Durham, N.C., led research and development efforts on sustainable building management practices in the U.K. and Norway, and spearheaded the implementation of a large-scale clean energy program in his home country of Nicaragua. Roberto serves as the Solid Waste representative for Durham’s Environmental Affairs Board and collaborates with local nonprofits and community leaders on community organizing and circular economy issues. Roberto holds an M.Sc. in Renewable Energy from the University of Reading in the U.K. and a Ph.D. in Energy Management from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Norway.


Bill Walsh
Bill Walsh

Bill Walsh is the Founder, and a Board Member, of Healthy Building Network (HBN). Currently serving as Strategic Advisor to the organization, Bill created Healthy Building Network in 2000 to define the leading edge of healthy building practices that increase transparency in the building products industry, reduce human exposures to chemicals in building materials, and create market incentives for healthier innovations in manufacturing. He has been Visiting Professor at Parsons School of Design, was a founding member, and currently serves on, the Advisory Board of the Healthy Babies Bright Futures initiative, and was a founding member of the Health Product Declaration Collaborative. In 2012 Bill received the US Green Building Council’s Leadership In Advocacy Award and was named a Fellow at the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts. In 2013 Bill was awarded the Healthy Schools Hero by the Healthy Schools Network, and in 2018 he was awarded the WEACT for Environmental Justice Leadership Award.

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