Emerging Green Health Innovation

Pittsburgh Living Product Hub, a Pioneering Manufacturing Resource Center, Engaged More Than 40 Manufacturers in its First Year, Continues Promoting Healthier, Sustainable Products in Western PA

Mayor Bill Peduto at the Living Product Expo
Mayor Bill Peduto speaking at a past Living Product Expo. Photo courtesy of the Green Building Alliance.

The Pittsburgh Living Product Hub, or the Hub, has interacted with more than 600 local practitioners and students across Western Pennsylvania to advocate for more sustainable, healthier building materials since it launched in April 2017.

 

Along with manufacturers, the Hub has engaged the region’s leading architecture and design firms, developers, and property owners. Over the next year, the Hub plans to further partner with these organizations to remove chemicals known to be pollutants or human health hazards from building projects. These efforts will help incentivize local manufacturers to invest in more sustainable practices to design the products their customers are seeking. “We need to show the demand—that more building projects are prioritizing transparency and material health in purchasing decisions,” says Hub Director Benson Gabler.

The Hub is an initiative of the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), a non-profit focused on leading and supporting the transformation toward communities that are socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative.  Through its frameworks for design, such as the Living Building Challenge, and its labels for transparency measures, like the Declare label for building product ingredients, ILFI and its programs are catalyzing the movement toward true sustainability.

With support from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and several local foundations and organizations, the Hub provides resources and technical assistance to local manufacturers in the latest developments in sustainable product design and prepares them to meet client demands. ILFI’s own programs provide paths to compliance with green building requirements, bridging manufacturer and client with a shared understanding and facilitating the specification process. For example, Declare is a transparency label that provides manufacturers with a platform to publicly disclose ingredient information and whether they are free of harmful “Red List” chemicals, which can attract conscientious buyers interested in creating a healthy indoor environment. While this creates the link between designer and client, requiring public disclosure of product ingredients underscores the greater commitment to protecting human and environmental health. “We’re not just certifying projects or organizations without exposing the methodology or the criteria that we’re evaluating them against. We want other project teams and the public to see how these boxes were checked in the first place,” explains Hub Coordinator Alex Co.

To assist and connect manufacturers and buyers, the Hub hosts extensive educational programming. One of its largest projects is the Living Product Expo. In its fourth year, the Expo will continue to put sustainability-minded owners, designers, manufacturers, and builders in conversation to address this year’s theme of Healthy Products for Everyone. The Expo has been hosted in Pittsburgh since 2015.

The Hub hopes to eventually help the ILFI pioneer other similar regional programs across the U.S.  Although the structure of those programs would be entirely dependent on the needs and context of the region, the Hub plans on creating a best-practices for engaging manufacturing, design, and construction professionals from its observations and experiences in Pittsburgh.

About the Living Product Expo

The Living Product Challenge re-imagines the design and construction of products to function as elegantly and efficiently as anything found in the natural world. The creation of this program kicked off a groundbreaking event that brings together leading minds in the product industry to inspire a revolution in the way materials are designed, manufactured and delivered: the Living Product Expo. https://productexpo.living-future.org/

The third annual Living Product Expo, “Healthy Products for Everyone,” will be held in Pittsburgh, September 11-13, 2018, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. For more information, visit the Living Product Expo

About the International Living Future Institute

The International Living Future Institute is an inspiring hub for visionary programs. Our mission is to lead and support the transformation toward communities that are socially just, culturally rich, and ecologically restorative. Com­posed of leading green building experts and thought-leaders, the Institute is premised on the belief that providing a compelling vision for the future is a fundamental requirement for reconciling humanity’s relationship with the natural world. The Institute runs the Living Building Challenge, Living Community Challenge, Living Product Challenge, Net Zero Energy Certification, the Cascadia Green Building Coun­cil, Ecotone Publishing, Declare, JUST, and other leading-edge programs. A global network of more than 400 volunteers across nearly 30 countries drive the local adoption of restorative principles in their com­munities. www.living-future.org

Contact: Nicole Van Batenburg Communications Director International Living Future Institute 1501 East Madison Street, Suite 150, Seattle WA 98122 t: 206.223.2028×23