Matt Dobson, a minimalist who majored in natural resources with construction management and went on to build log homes, might seem an unlikely advocate for vinyl as a building material, but he has been doing that passionately for almost 20 years.
Dobson heads the Revinylize Recycling Collaborative through the Alexandria, Va.-based Vinyl Siding Institute, where he was hired in 2004 as a director and now is the vice president with a major role in advocacy and regulatory affairs.
"I have been intrigued with plastics because of the innovation and creativeness that comes along with the material. It's been a great fit with my career in housing, affordability," said Dobson, who earned his bachelor's degree from Michigan State University.
At VSI, Dobson has worked on the development of the National Green Building Standard almost from the beginning. The rating system for homes and apartments — the only one approved by the American National Standards Institute — provides a blueprint for new and renovated residences with the certifications of bronze, silver, gold and emerald issued by Home Innovation Research Labs.
The research labs, an independent subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders, opened in 1964 as part of a mission to perfect the home in every aspect, including quality, efficiency and affordability.
In his roles, Dobson helped publish the first product category rules for cladding, which then resulted in the publication of one of the first environmental product declarations for the industry.
For him, it's all about helping the plastics and construction industries use science to reduce impacts on the environment.
"We continue to push the sustainability and resiliency science, with the foundation being reduced environmental impact with sound economic and social balance," Dobson said.
He thinks about these topics all the time, not just related to plastics at work.
"I have embraced a minimalist lifestyle, which is a major component to improving impact on the environment," Dobson said.
As a skiing and hiking enthusiast, he added, "The outdoors make you appreciate and respect Mother Earth."
Dobson describes himself as "somewhat worried" about the environment, and he said he believes corporations have a great deal of responsibility in protecting it.