i+D - January/February 2020 - 23

To Specify or
Not to Specify?
Ethical considerations aren't limited to the nature of a project. They
extend to product specification and the impact it has on occupants and the
environment as well. Due diligence is critical when making those decisions.
Take the vinyl debate, for instance. Many designers today have pledged to
never use vinyl products in any project because polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
has been demonstrated as being harmful to occupants. But is avoiding
vinyl always the best decision?
Jane Rohde, principal and founder of JSR Associates, argues that it's
not always so clear cut when all the facts are taken into consideration.
Having toured several vinyl manufacturing plants and looked at the
science behind the way it's made, she's determined in terms of drinking
water quality, for example, inert, plasticizer-free PVC pipes are
healthier than cast iron pipes that corrode and carry sediment and other
contaminants into the water supply.
And her position has come at a price. "I have had people attack me
verbally because of my supporting views on vinyl," she recalls. Rohde
says she does her best to follow the science and tends to not take claims
about certain Red List materials at face value because the alternatives
can lead to costly (and unsustainable) product failures.
"In healthcare right now, we're experiencing millions and millions of
dollars in failures because of what designers thought was a more
sustainable choice for upholstery," she explains. "Products that should
have lasted for 15 years, or at least seven years at a minimum, I've seen
how most of them are failing between 18 months or two years. So, that
was devastating to me to figure out"-not only because of the cost, but
because replacing those products increases their environmental footprint.
Similarly, many designers avoid products with embodied carbon, which
is a single-attribute method of evaluating a material-an approach
Rohde suggests is risky and carries unintended consequences. In choosing
between two insulation products, for example, one with lower embodied
carbon than the other, is the former product always the better choice?
What if the insulation with higher embodied carbon reduces a building's
energy load, thereby reducing its total carbon emission levels? "You
could actually have a tradeoff," Rohde explains.
Likewise, by specifying a product based solely on recycled content
or one without titanium dioxide in it, "you could actually be choosing
something that has a worse environmental footprint" when all the
multi-attribute data is considered, Rohde says.
"For me, when looking at things in context and evaluating if I'm going
to work with [a product], I want to make sure that there is a scientific basis
for it and that I have access to technical resources that I can evaluate for
myself," she concludes.


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i+D - January/February 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of i+D - January/February 2020

Contents
i+D - January/February 2020 - Cover1
i+D - January/February 2020 - Cover2
i+D - January/February 2020 - 3
i+D - January/February 2020 - 4
i+D - January/February 2020 - 5
i+D - January/February 2020 - Contents
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i+D - January/February 2020 - Cover3
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https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/id/20211112
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/id/20210910
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/id/20210708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/asid/design_product_guide_2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/id/20210506
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/id/20210304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20210102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20201112_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20201112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200910_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/asid/design_product_guide
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200708_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200506_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200304_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200102_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20191112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20191112_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190910_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190708_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190506_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190304_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190102_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20181112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20181112_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180910_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180708_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180506_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180304_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180102_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180102
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com