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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
Google, Facebook Flex Market Muscle in Favor of Healthier Building Materials

Google, Facebook, Genentech and several other companies and organizations comprising a working group of The Building Health Initiative are actively using their collective market influence to create demand for new and innovative products that improve the health of the built environment.

The working group, which also include Adobe, CalPERS, Kaiser Permanente, Troon Pacific and University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Mission Bay, met on Thursday at the inaugural Building Health Forum at UCSF.

Other impactful steps members of the working group are taking to foster healthier environments within their local and global projects include requesting greater transparency from architects and building product manufacturers about the chemicals used in their products; recruiting and retaining the best workforce by providing healthy and productive workplaces; and increasing awareness of healthy environments in buildings.

“A healthy environment can be a catalyst for innovation, productivity and the overall well-being of the people who work there,” said Bill Weihl, Infrastructure, Sustainability and Efficiency Director at Facebook. “We have focused on collaboration and open source to drive progress in developing better infrastructure, hardware and buildings—not just for our employees but for all communities. This new initiative will help us continue our efforts toward building healthy environments at scale.”

The working group is one of a handful of subgroups of the larger Building Health Initiative, a platform in which industry leaders from multiple sectors pledge to affect positive change for healthier built environments. The coalition of 45 companies and institutions include commercial building owners, technology giants, healthcare leaders, architects, engineering firms, product manufacturers, mission-driven nonprofits and legal professionals.

Partner companies participating in the Building Health Initiative have made specific pledges in a defined area where they could affect the most change, such as demanding transparency in building materials, conducting groundbreaking research, promoting health and wellness, improving consultation and education, among other areas.

The tech giants are also leading the way in the move to more sustainable buildings. Earlier this year, Greenpeace released a report saying Google, Facebook and Apple are leading a growing number of tech companies that are working to power the Internet with 100 percent renewable energy, signaling a major shift in the sector over the past two years. Those companies are leaving behind Amazon Web Services, the company that hosts the data for many of the Internet’s most popular services, which powers its infrastructure with polluting energy sources that contribute to global warming.

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