Google understands that its employees are its most valuable asset. They have spent a great deal of time, money and effort to establish healthy work environments as they expand their physical presence around the globe. Google is leading the charge for transparency of building materials and it all started with the goal of creating a workplace in which employees can perform at their best.
Establishing goals at the beginning of a project sets the tone and clarifies purpose. It also helps guide stakeholders and eliminates decisions based on subjective criteria or bias. One of the priorities Google set for its North American portfolio is a workplace free of known toxins. Their healthy materials program seeks to avoid products and furnishings that contain (often ubiquitous) harmful chemicals which are known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. Google goes beyond no-VOC paint and targets the elimination of phthalates, bisphenol-A, perfluorinated chemicals and all added formaldehyde, using criteria from the Living Building Challenge Red List and EPA’s Chemicals of Concern. They also request full transparency from vendors and require use of Healthy Building Network’s Pharos hazard screening tool.
Source control, or what we bring into a space, is the leading contributor to healthy indoor air quality and is critical to the health of building occupants. Source control begins with building materials such as wiring, drywall and pipes. It encompasses all the interior finishes, furnishings and equipment that designers specify. Often overlooked, the final aspect of source control is operations and maintenance. Reducing the contaminants we track in with our shoes and using non-toxic cleaning products are just as important as eliminating VOC emissions.
Leading by example, Google is demonstrating that setting health as a priority is not only achievable, but good for business. Research has shown that a toxin-free workplace has many benefits such as employee retention, increased productivity, reduction of sick days and higher employee satisfaction. Google workplaces are well known for their leisure areas such as pool tables and bowling alleys, but they also tout healthy interiors to recruit top talent.
Is health a priority for your clients? Are you doing all you can to ensure every element you design is non-toxic? To learn more about Google’s efforts and how you can apply the same strategies to your practice, tune in on June 25 for the webinar, “How the Experts Specify Healthier Materials.” This webinar is the final of a three-part series developed by the professionals at Healthy Building Network and BuildingGreen, and funded through the ASID Foundation. Click here to register!
Visit the ASID Foundation website for more information about the full series of webinars.
The June 25 webinar features sustainability “rock stars” who will share valuable lessons learned from their own practice, in order to help designers create healthier, more environmentally-preferable interiors:
- Anne Less – Green Team Consultant, Healthy Materials + Knowledge Management at Mary Davidge Associates
- Max Richter, AIBC, MRAIC, LEED AP BD+C – Architect at Perkins+Will
- Bill Walsh – Founder & Executive Director at Healthy Building Network
How the Experts Specify Healthier Materials
Tuesday, June 25 – 3–4:15 pm EDT
$39.99 (ASID members) | $64.99 (non-members)
0.1 IDCEC HSW CEU
Pictured: Google NY microkitchen space. Image courtesy of Google.