An LBC project cannot use products containing asbestos; cadmium; chlorinated polyethylene and chlorosulfonated polyethylene; chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs); chloroprene (Neoprene); formaldehyde (added); halogenated flame retardants; hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs); lead (added); mercury; petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides; phthalates; polyvinyl chloride (PVC); or wood treatments containing creosote, arsenic, or pentachlorophenol.
The Red List imperative considers not only the health of the people who may be exposed to toxins while occupying the project, but of those involved with a material at every stage of its life, from extraction, manufacture, transportation, installation, and disposal. Formaldehyde is used as an adhesive in sheet products (plywood and particleboard) and PVC is used in products from piping to siding to carpet backing, and neoprene is used in weather-stripping and expansion-joint filler—products that enhance a building’s energy performance.
The ILFI allows several specific temporary exceptions, including lead in grid-tied solar battery systems and phenol formaldehyde in glue-laminated beams. There’s also a “small component” exception for “complex products made from more than 10 constituent parts,” so long as the Red List ingredient is contained, discrete from other materials, and doesn’t make up more than 10% percent of the product by weight or volume.
For the Energy Lab at the Hawaii Preparatory Academy, one of four projects to achieve full LBC certification, the project team was able to find acceptable substitutes for some items. For example, instead of Trex, a plastic-wood fiber composite material that contains PVC, they chose FSC-certified wood decking, and eschewed mercury-filled exit lights for bioluminescent, nonelectrical fixtures. In other cases, the team had to compromise; for instance, the formaldehyde-free foam ceiling insulation contains flame retardants, as was required by code.
The team not only had to apply to the ILFI for a temporary exception, someone also had to write a letter to the manufacturer urging the company to consider replacing the Red List material with something less toxic. These exceptions are understood to be temporary, until the time when materials without Red List components are widely available.