Tom Lent

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Tom Lent, Policy Director, is responsible for defining the Healthy Building Network's guiding philosophy and policies with regard to building materials. Tom has spent over 35 years working on the environmental impact of buildings, materials, and energy in both the private sector and with public interest groups.  Tom helped coordinate development of the Green Guide for Health Care (GGHC), the US Green Building Council's LEED for Healthcare and the Sustainable Bioplastic Guidelines and has co-authored a wide range of studies of the comparative health and environmental impact of floorings, plastics and other building materials and sits on a variety of standards setting committees for indoor air quality and safer materials.

Tom oversees the development of the Pharos rating criteria and the Chemical and Material Library, and provides support in product category development and product scoring review. He headed the HPD Collaborative Pilot Committee that developed and pilot tested the Health Product Declaration Standard.

Tom has been honored with the Leadership in Advocacy Award by the USGBC and the Environmental Award for Outstanding Achievement by the US EPA Region IX for his work transforming the building materials market.

Follow Tom on Twitter (@HBNTom)

Tom's recent blogs in The Signal

Fumes from chemicals commonly used in water-based paints and solvents may be associated with substantially higher rates of asthma, stuffy noses and eczema. The Swedish/US joint study reported in Environmental Health News this week found that children sleeping in rooms with higher concentrations of propylene glycol and glycol ether compounds (PGEs) in the air were two to four times more likely to suffer symptoms.

Ironically, PGEs have been used more widely in cleaners and paints as manufacturers have sought to lower their VOCs (volatile organic compounds). PGEs are VOCs, but they emit at lower levels than the older, highly toxic oil solvent-based compounds. Pharos now identifies PGE compounds when they appear in paints and other products with links to this information and will watch the science for...

Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) has released their first Indoor Advantage Gold certifications for products meeting the new, tougher residential criteria under Version 1.1 of the 01350 specification (see the new certificate here). The State of California made several revisions to the 01350 standard early this year including:
1) Tightening the formaldehyde standard to meet new California state guidelines and
2) Establishing a residential scenario that accounts for the lower air change rates in houses that can lead to dramatically higher concentrations of toxicants off-gassing from building materials.
These changes are critical to making the 01350 standard truly health protective in homes and we’ve incorporated them in the Pharos VOC scoring protocols (see previous blog on the ...

Heavy metals and other toxic chemicals are still widespread in some types of interior finishes according to a major study of home improvement products released today. Researchers from tested a wide range of national and local brand flooring and wallpaper products and discovered lead, phthalates, brominated flame retardants and a range of other chemicals linked with human health problems ranging from asthma and liver damage to reproductive problems, birth defects and autism.

The nonprofit Ecology Center of Ann Arbor Michigan initiated the HealthyStuff project in 2009 to bring attention to toxic chemical content in toys and now is turning its attention to home improvement products. staff tested over 100 product brands, covering about 2300 wall covering products and another 1000 flooring products, including bamboo, cork, carpet cushion, sheet, tile, and wood floorings. Researchers used an XRF device...

Congratulations to the first three projects to meet the Living Building Challenge℠ design standard for healthy sustainable buildings! This is an impressive accomplishment, coming less than four years after the Cascadia Green Building Council launched this ambitious high-bar standard, which requires not only excellent “beyond LEED” design, but a year of occupancy to prove that the operation of the building also meets the Challenge standards.

Washington University’s Tyson Living Learning Center (Eureka, MO) and the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (Rhinebeck, NY), earned 'Living' status and Eco-Sense, (a private residence in Victoria, BC), earned partial program certification, or ‘Petal Recognition,’ for achieving four of the six stringent...

Pharos is partnering with the EPA to insure that the insulation used in federal stimulus funded home weatherization programs is healthy and low in environmental impact. In a special project with EPA Region 9 and StopWaste, Pharos is surveying cellulose, fiberglass and cotton products to understand the current state of the industry on a variety of key parameters set by the EPA, including recycled content, indoor air quality, including application of the new residential emissions standards, and toxic content. Manufacturers interested in participating in the program are submitting information to Pharos which the EPA will use to evaluate products and modify standards.

Recent improvements in products are starting to show up in Pharos listings. For example, UltraTouch cotton insulation has...

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