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The Red List – Materials to Watch out For!

The Living Building Challenge is a holistic sustainable building program created by the International Living Future Institute.

The programme is described by the Institute as a “philosophy, advocacy tool and certification program” to promote the most holistic measurement of sustainability in construction.

As part of their construction material focus, the Institute released a “Red List” covering building materials and “building material ingredients” that should be avoided.

  • Asbestos
  • Cadmium
  • Chlorinated Polyethylene and Chlorosulfonated Polyethlene
  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
  • Chloroprene (Neoprene)
  • Formaldehyde (added)
  • Halogenated Flame Retardants
  • Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
  • Lead (added)
  • Mercury
  • Petrochemical Fertilizers and Pesticides45
  • Phthalates
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
  • Wood treatments containing Creosote, Arsenic or Pentachlorophenol

The Red List provides a great basis for material choice in the design of a healthy home. The institute has also developed a “Declare” certification for products – basically an “ingredients list” for building materials.

Of particular note in the wood sector is the use of arsenic and creosote as a wood preservative. Arsenic, in the form of CCA wood preservatives are particularly common in New Zealand for exterior wood applications, like decking.