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US architects association adds material selection to code of ethics

The American Institute of Architects has included guidelines for selecting ‘healthier and more sustainable’ materials in its code of ethics. 

In the code, the institute advises members to select and use building materials that minimise exposure to "toxins and pollutants in the environment to promote environmental and human health and to reduce waste and pollution".

It says members should recognise and acknowledge the professional responsibilities they have to promote sustainable design and development in the natural and built environments.

"We applaud the AIA for including consideration of material health impacts as a tenet of ethical behaviour," said US NGO the Healthy Building Network.

"[The HBN] looks forward to providing continued guidance to the architecture and design communities as they work with their clients to make product choices that are healthier for all people and the planet," it added.

Last year, the AIA released a roadmap that helps its members select materials that have less impact on the environment and human health. This encourages architects:

  • to select safer materials for humans and the environment;
  • to design and build with healthier materials;
  • to understand the differences between material transparency and chemical avoidance;
  • to address barriers in obtaining buy-in from peers, clients, and the market; and
  • to collectively strengthen the market signal for safer alternative products.

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