A green building committee has proposed a rating system that would discourage contractors from using PVC in construction and major renovations of hospitals and other health-care buildings.
The health-care committee is part of the voluntary Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program of the U.S. Green Building Council. Some U.S. municipalities have mandated the Green Building Council's LEED rules as part of their city building codes.
``This would be a tremendous setback for the [vinyl] industry and have a far-reaching impact on the use of PVC and other halogenated compounds in hospitals and beyond,'' said Allen Blakey, vice president of public affairs for the Arlington, Va.-based Vinyl Institute.
Construction accounts for 76 percent of all PVC used in the U.S., according to the Vinyl Institute. Construction for health care in the next decade is estimated at $200 billion.
The proposal would give credits to builders that avoid halogenated substances and dioxins.
Builders must adopt three of the five proposed strategies to receive LEED credit, and four of them require building products that ``shall not be manufactured with added halogenated compounds.''
That would cover all major PVC applications: roof membranes, window and door frames, siding, cove base, ceiling tiles, wall coverings, window treatments, pipes, conduit and electrical boxes.
The health-care rating system - which was in development for four years - was issued without fanfare Nov. 15, with a 30-day comment period.
The ratings parallel the Green Guide for Health Care, a design tool kit developed two years ago by the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, an Austin, Texas-based nonprofit design firm.
Gail Vittori, co-director of that firm, also chaired the LEEDS health-care committee.
Blakey pointed out that the committee went against the reservations expressed by some members of another LEEDS group, the Materials and Resources Technical Advisory Group. He added that USGBC's Technical and Scientific Advisory Committee had rejected the concept of giving credits to builders that avoid PVC in its final report, which was issued Feb. 26.
``This is a real rush to judgment,'' Blakey said. ``We think it is premature and ignores and rejects the key finding of the TSAC report.''
That report was based on six years of research and the review of 2,500 documents that assessed the health and environmental impacts of PVC and competing building materials in siding, windows and window frames, resilient flooring and drain, waste and vent pipe.
The TSAC report has said that ``a credit that rewards'' companies for not using PVC could inadvertently steer decision-makers to replace one material with another'' that could be as bad or worse, said the report.
Blakey said the health-care committee turned down VI's request for an extension of the 30-day comment period, saying it already has scheduled a meeting to discuss the comments it will receive.