in a recent article for Retrofit Magazine, local green building and environmental consultant Nate Gillette highlights the role of the US Green Building Council and Walmart in addressing chemicals of concern in recent months.
There was not enough support among USGBC members to establish credits addressing chemicals of concern (ie: PVCs, brominated or halogenated flame retardants, and phthalates) in the new LEEDv4 Green Building Rating System, but the world’s largest retailer doesn’t require a consensus to enact new protocols. Walmart has announced a new policy regarding sustainable chemistry in consumables, effectively telling its suppliers they need to reduce 10 chemicals of concern in the items that Walmart sells if they want to have shelf space at the store.
Says Gillette: “Frankly, this is an industry game changer and puts the wheels into motion regulating harmful chemicals on a large scale—something USGBC tried but has been unable to do for more than six years. It’s interesting what can happen when a company of that breadth and scale decides it wants to do something meaningful. The truth is Walmart carries the biggest stick and companies want to do business with the retailer so badly that if they have to make their widgets without 10 chemicals they will figure out a way to make it happen. The good thing for the rest of the consumers in the world who don’t shop at Walmart is that there is a big trickle-down effect: Makers of widgets generally don’t make them two different ways. Thus begins the removal of these chemicals across the board.”
Gillette (AIA, LEED AP O+M, CEM) is the vice president and director of WMSBF member Energy Finance Analytics LLC and an editorial advisor on retrofit magazine. He works with clients to successfully implement and manage energy efficiency and sustainability projects.