suppliers, although often at a higher initial cost. One example in countertops is
IceStone, a solid surface made with 100
percent recycled post-consumer and post-industrial glass in a cement matrix without any VOCs or petroleum products.
According to its website, IceStone is
manufactured in a day-lit factory in
Brooklyn, N. Y., using a low-emission
process, a gray water recycling system,
and machinery running on all soy-based
lubricants. The site displays certifications
from USGBC and GreenGuard, as well as
a “cradle-to-cradle” gold certificate for
environmentally intelligent design that
qualifies for LEED credits. This certification includes materials, process, energy,
resources, and social responsibility criteria, but is awarded by a private design
firm, which also offers consulting services. The impartiality of the certification
process deserves a closer look.
IceStone requires use of adhesives and
coatings, although the website recommends environmentally friendly products.
When removed in a future remodel, the
countertop can be ground up, melted
down, and recycled once again.
This example illustrates a couple of
lessons. First, one has to look beneath
the surface “green” claims and fancy
logos; and second, some trade-offs will
be made in the end. As Kermit the Frog
says, “It’s not easy being green.” It’s not
1. Pimentel, David, and Tad W.
Patzek: “Ethanol Production Using
Corn, Switchgrass, and Wood;
Biodiesel Production Using Soybean
and Sunflower.” Natural Resources
Research, Vol. 14, No. 1, March 2005.
2. Chiu, Yi-Wen, Brian Walseth and
Sangwon Suh: “Water Embodied in
Bioethanol in the United States.”
Environ. Sci. Technol., 2009, 43 ( 8),
EnriqueMedina,MS,CIH,presidentofAllianceCon-sulting International, is chair of the Environmental Is-suesCommitteeandamemberoftheGBWG.He
Raquel Medina-Cleghorn, a college intern at Alliance
AIHA’s Green Building
Acting on members’ requests, AIHA
joined the U.S. Green Building Coun-
cil (USGBC) as an organizational
member in 2008 and subsequently
formed the Green Building Working
Group (GBWG), initially with members
of the Environmental Issues, Indoor
Air Quality, and Stewardship and Sus-
tainability Committees. The purpose
of the GBWG is to contribute its pro-
fessional resources and technical ex-
pertise to help transform the way
buildings are designed, built, oper-
ated, maintained, demolished and
reused. The following are the working
group’s initial objectives:
• Promote the application of and ad-
herence to scientific principles in
the characterization and control of
hazards affecting worker and occu-
pant health, safety, comfort, and
productivity in the building life
• Advocate for the integration of
worker, occupant and community
health, safety, comfort and produc-tivity-related issues, as well as life
cycle and cost impacts into sustainable design criteria.
• Support the professional development of industrial hygienists by
providing tools, resources and information on green and sustainable
buildings and technologies.
• Promote recognition of the value of
the industrial hygiene profession
among USGBC and related organizations by providing educational
and technical information on industrial hygiene areas of expertise.
• Establish the industrial hygiene
profession as the technical resource in the Indoor Environmental
Quality Assessment discipline related to green buildings and LEED.
This issue of The Synergist represents
the GBWG’s first contribution to this
effort. We hope to be able to present
more in-depth information on this
emerging area in future issues.