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Healthy Materials Series

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Series Summary


After a year of Covid-19, environmental crises, and calls for social justice, ‘Healthy Materials’ could not be more important. We have seen the air polluted with carbon from the extraction of raw materials. We have seen manufacturing plants release toxic by-products into the air and water, compromising neighborhoods predominantly of color. We have seen contagions spread through our buildings, ill-equipped to suppress such viruses and bacteria. We have seen fires burn toxicity into our air, poisoning our firefighters and neighbors. Now is the time to reimagine the products of our built environment.


Local AIA COTE, CLF, and USGBC chapters in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles, present the Healthy Materials Series, a 6-part program starting in May 2021 and continuing through August 2021. This series explores new and old materials while discussing methods for analyzing material health as it relates to our society, environment, and equity. Each 90-minute episode will showcase research projects and case studies using healthy materials presented by our selected panelists. Following the presentations, we will discuss the obstacles and opportunities to implement these materials into our design process. 



  • Keynote + Introduction................May 24th, 2021 at 5pm PST

    • Keynote 

      • Malo Hutson, Columbia University

    • Panel 

      • Jack Dinning, Parsons Healthy Materials Lab

      • Ruchi Shah, Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation

  • Pt.1 Structural.............................. June 7th, 2021 at 12pm PST

    • Panel​

      • James Kitchin, MASS Design

      • Meghan Lewis, Carbon Leadership Forum

      • Sandile Mbatha, Research and Policy Advocacy Department in eThekwini Municipality

  • Pt.2 Enclosure.............................. June 21st, 2021 at 5pm PST

    • Panel ​

      • Jessie Buckmaster, Hathaway Dinwiddie

      • Justin Malan, Ecoconsult California 

      • Valerie J Amor, Drawing Conclusions, LLC

  • Pt.3 Interiors................................ July 12th, 2021 at 5pm PST

    • Panel

      • Dr. Harold Rickenbacker, Environmental Defense Fund 

      • Suzanne Drake, Revel Architecture 

      • Melissa R Daniel, Amar Group

  • Pt.4 Building Systems................. July 19th, 2021 at 5pm PST

    • Panel ​

      • Kathleen Hetrick, Buro Happold

      • Bill Walsh, Healthy Building Network

      • Ruby Rose Yepez, Southern California Edison (SCE)​​​

  • Pt.5 Tomorrow’s Materials.......... Aug 2nd, 2021 at 5pm PST

    • Panel 

      • David Benjamin, The Living

      • Henry Valles, US Hemp Building Association

      • Veena Singla, National Resources Defense Council




Malo Hutson

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Malo Hutson is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Urban Community and Health Equity Lab in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University.  He is also an Associate Member of the Earth Institute faculty at Columbia University and Co-Director of the Urbanism Research Group at the Columbia Population Research Center. For the past two years he was the Director of Project Development for Columbia World Projects, a university-wide initiative to use research and scholarship to address societal challenges. His research focuses on community development and health equity; built environment and health; urban sustainability/circular economy both domestically and internationally. His current research includes an analysis of gentrification and displacement of vulnerable populations and its impact on health; the impacts of disaster management and recovery in Chile; and analysis of the food system in the state of California.  He earned his B.A. and Master’s degree both from the University of California at Berkeley and his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.    Starting July 1, 2021, Hutson will be the Dean and the Edward E. Elson Professor of Architecture at the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture. 

Ruchi Shah

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Ruchi Shah has 7+ years of experience in sustainability across the real estate and consulting sector. Earlier this month she just transitioned from TNDC, an affordable housing developer in San Francisco, where she led sustainability efforts and supported the design teams, and led green certifications efforts such as LEED, LBC, and particularly focused on integrating healthy materials in affordable multifamily projects.


Ruchi has received an Environmental Service Award from the San Francisco Commission for her contribution to affordable housing. Ruchi has worked at Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF), a collaborative of 13 affordable housing developers, and at AvalonBay Inc., a national real estate investment trust (REIT), developing sustainability programs and managed green construction projects. She holds a Master’s in Sustainability from the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), and a Bachelor’s in Biotechnology Engineering. She is a LEED Green Associate, a FitWel Ambassador, WELL AP, and is pursuing her Living Future Accreditation (LFA).

Meghan Lewis

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Meghan Lewis is a Senior Researcher at the Carbon Leadership Forum, where she leads their research efforts to inform effective and just policies to rapidly reduce embodied carbon across public and private construction sectors, including the CLF Embodied Carbon Policy Toolkit and CLF Embodied Carbon Toolkit for Building Owners. Previous to joining the CLF, Meghan was the Head of Global Energy & Sustainability at WeWork, where she also launched the Supply Chain Sustainability program. Meghan gained her architecture license while practicing at Mithun, where she worked on a range of project types and spearheaded internal efforts to integrate whole building life cycle assessment and low carbon material selection into the design process. 

Jack Dinning

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Jack Dinning is a designer, researcher, and material-health and sustainability strategist working with Brightworks Sustainability and Harvard University’s Office for Sustainability.  Having began in architectural practice and understanding the impacts that toxic materials can have on vulnerable populations, he now works to create tools and strategies that will empower fellow designers and drive collective progress in the industry.  He has also led educational initiatives with the Healthy Materials Lab at Parsons School of Design, and continues to co-lead the mindful MATERIALS Education Working Group.  His work has earned recognitions including an invitation to the United Nations Global Compact Leaders Summit, the Alpha Rho Chi Medal for leadership and professional merit, and election to the inaugural class of AIANY's Civic Leadership Program.

James Kitchin


James Kitchin joined MASS as an Engineers Without Borders UK Fellow in 2017 and has since led the structural design of The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. He has expertise in designing low carbon buildings, seismic engineering and designing with non-conventional materials.

Since James graduated from the University of Sheffield he has worked for AECOM in the UK as a Structural Engineering and Project Manager, designed schools for UNICEF in Malawi, and volunteered as an Engineer in Nepal after the Gorkha earthquake. He is also a Chartered Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Sandile Mbatha

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Dr Sandile Mbatha is the Senior Manager for Research and Policy Advocacy Department in eThekwini Municipality where he supports evidence-based policy development process through city-wide research and strategic planning. He is responsible for driving integrated city-level data processes for strategic decision-making. As part of this work, he is establishing strategic partnerships for building an inclusive data ecosystem necessary for supporting a data-driven city. He is also part of the team using a data-centred approach towards SDG institutionalization and indicator localization.  


He is a former Director and founder of Ulwazi NS Research Consulting, an organisation focused on human-centric solutions to human settlements; informal land markets; urban planning; local economic development; water; food and energy issues in urban and peri-urban contexts. He holds a PhD in Architecture and Town Planning from the University of Stuttgart, with a focus on informal transactions in low income housing in South Africa. He has more than a decade of working with public and non-governmental sector through developing and implementing programmes for low income urban and peri-urban communities. He has also participated in various urban development programmes aimed at fostering development partnerships between the municipality and communities, particularly conducting research on urban renewal and driving stakeholder coordination and engagement. He also has vast experience as consultant across various sectors locally and internationally. He has held numerous fellowships which include the 2017/18 Academy for African Urban Diversity cohort, 2019 International Visitor Leadership Programme (IVLP); MGG Digital Academy Fellow 2021. He has also worked at the University of KwaZulu-Natal as a lecturer and has also  served as an external examiner for postgraduate projects within the Built Environment and Development space.

Justin Malan

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Justin was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa.  He graduated from the University of Cape Town with a Bachelor’s Degree in Law and Public Administration and a Masters Degree in Environmental Studies.


Justin and his wife sailed a circuitous route to the USA in their home-built sailboat.  They settled in California in 1986 and have been living in Sacramento ever since, except for 2007 when they sailed with their family across the Pacific.


After working for several years in State government and in the California Legislature, Justin started his environmental advocacy and consulting firm – Ecoconsult.  For the past three decades, Justin has worked extensively with the California Legislature, public interest groups and state regulatory agencies.


Ecoconsult currently represents a number of organizations working in the environmental health and sustainability arena.  The California Association of Environmental Health Administrators (CAEHA) is Ecoconsult’s principal client.  We also represent Heal the Bay; Clean Seas Lobbying Coalition; the California Compost Coalition; the Unified Program Agencies (CUPAs); and the US Green Building Council in LA.  We have represented a broad selection of other clients including Community Alliance with Family Farmers; CERES; CRYQ Energy; Natural Resources Defense Council; California Climate and Agriculture Network; and the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers’ Association.

Jessie Buckmaster

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Jessie Buckmaster is Sustainability Manager at Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Company with over 10 years of experience in commercial construction and green building across California. She provides sustainability expertise and consultation for Hathaway Dinwiddie’s projects from preconstruction through certification. Jessie has worked on numerous LEED projects, and recently completed a project pursuing Living Building Challenge certification.  Her specialty is in evaluating healthy building materials and is an advocate for environmental justice. She loves providing training and sustainability education. She is an active member of USGBC and ILFI and is currently Co-Facilitator for the Living Future Sacramento Collaborative.

Valerie J Amor

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Valerie J. Amor, LEED AP BD+C, Certified Passive House Designer (CPHD), EcoDistricts AP, Climate Change Professional (CC-P), and Lic. FL RE Broker, focuses on developing regenerative, environmentally just and equitable designs and policies addressing climate change impacts on coastal urban cities through her published writings, educational programs, community engagement and professional leadership positions.

Ms. Amor is the founder and Action Oriented Visionary of Drawing Conclusions LLC, an architectural firm, engaged in regenerative design, helical research, and the designer of SCALe©, an award-winning educational design charette program. As an Energy Code Compliance Reviewer for NYC Department of Buildings, she is part of the LL07 DOB team and a member of the NYC Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency, Climate Resiliency Design Guidelines Working Group. Previously serving as a Climate Corps Environmental Defense Fund Fellow consultant to the New York City Housing Authority, Ms. Amor was instrumental in contributing to and implementing several South Florida city and regional Sustainability Action Plans. Receiving several National Endowment of the Arts grants as a community engagement public artist, Ms. Amor is the co-founder of Growing Broward, supporter of local food systems.

Kathleen Hetrick

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Kathleen Hetrick is a sustainability consultant at Buro Happold and a LEED AP BD+C, EcoDistricts AP and WELL AP. As part of Buro Happold’s sustainability and physics team, Kathleen combines her passion for human-focused sustainable design with a technical background in mechanical engineering. She has experience in a wide range of cutting-edge projects across all scales of work including multiple LEED platinum projects, Living Building Challenge projects, historical adaptive reuse, LEED Neighborhood Developments, and city and campus sustainability plans. 

Kathleen recently led the WELL certification process for the Buro Happold Los Angeles Office, following the LEED v4 Gold Certification of the office space through her role as the Buro Happold West Coast Environmental Coordinator. Her experience with the Living Building Challenge Material Red List requirements has prompted her to spark a firm-wide effort to identify and reduce the most harmful chemicals within the MEP scope of work, and fuels her passion for improving the health aspects of
sustainable materials on all of her projects. She is also the current Co-Facilitator of Buro Happold’s Diversity and Inclusion Forum, spearheading outreach initiatives to encourage local K-12 students to pursue sustainability- focused careers in STEAM through mentoring, design competitions and paid high school internships.

Ruby Rose

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Ruby Rose is a seasoned building industry professional with 15+ years experience specializing in affordable housing projects.

Ruby Rose graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a Bachelor of Architecture. She has gained industry experience through her work in architecture, construction, and sustainability consulting. She
holds several certifications including LEED AP BD+C, Certified Energy Analyst, Certified Green Building Professional and a Green Rater. As an energy consultant, Ruby Rose has guided teams to successfully secure funding and implementing sustainability features required for Third
Party Certifications and Utility incentive programs. She certified over 30 projects as LEED or GreenPoint Rated.

Ruby Rose currently supports Southern California Edison as a Senior Advisor assisting developers and builders and promoting decarbonization programs and resources. She is very active in the building industry currently serving as a Planning Commissioner for the city of South El Monte and a former Board Member for the US Green Building Council Los Angeles Chapter and California Association of Building Energy Consultants. She is a committee member of the ICC Los Angeles Basin Sustainability Committee and Professional Women in Building, as well as a board member for the Baldy View Chapter of the Building Industry Association.

Ruby Rose is passionate about serving those around her, volunteering in a number of roles such as president of the Latino Professional Alumni Chapter at Cal Poly Pomona, Membership Director for the Latino Business Resource Group at SCE and offering free yoga classes to her local community to create unity amongst community members.

Melissa Daniel

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Melissa R. Daniel is an architectural designer in Maryland, and the creator and host of the Architecture is Political, a podcast where Black and Brown folks have a conversation about architecture. She served as executive co-chair of the 2017 AIA Women’s Leadership Summit, and was a recipient of a 2018 AIA Associates Award.

David Benjamin


David Benjamin is Founding Principal of The Living and Associate Professor at Columbia GSAPP. His work combines research and practice, with a focus on an expanded and actionable framework of environmental sustainability. Recent projects include the Airbus NIS Engine Factory (a low-carbon lighthouse project for the future of manufacturing), the Princeton University Embodied Computation Lab (a new building for research on robotics and IoT), and Hy-Fi (a branching tower for MoMA PS1 made of a new type of biodegradable brick).

Bill Walsh

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Bill Walsh is the Founder and now serves as Strategic Advisor to the Healthy Building Network (HBN).  Since 2000 HBN has been defining the leading edge of healthy building practices that increase transparency in the building products industry, reduce human exposures to chemicals in building materials, and create market incentives for healthier innovations in manufacturing.  He has been Visiting Professor at Parsons The New School for Design, is a Fellow of the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts, and a founding board member of the Health Product Declaration (HPD) Collaborative.  Bill and HBN have been awarded the Design for Humanity Award by the American Society of Interior Designers (2019);  WEACT for Environmental Justice Leadership Award (2018); Healthy Schools Network Hero (2013); US Green Building Council’s Leadership In Advocacy Award (2012). Previously he served as a national campaign director at Greenpeace USA, and held staff attorney positions with the US Public Interest Research Group and the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center.  He holds a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law and LLM in Public Interest Advocacy from Georgetown University.

Suzanne Drake

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Suzanne Drake’s career has focused on commercial interiors, specializing in creating healthy environments and being the conduit for healthy materials knowledge dissemination. As an interior designer, she draws on over two decades of experience in workplace, health care, and laboratory environments to support client initiatives and sustainability goals. Currently she is leading Revel’s sustainability initiative. She was instrumental in developing the Precautionary List, and has co-authored three installments of the Healthy Environments whitepaper series, including Strategies for Avoiding Flame Retardants in the Built Environment, What’s New (and What’s Not) With PVC, and Understanding Antimicrobial Ingredients in Building Materials. Her book EcoSoul: Save the Planet and Yourself by ReThinking your Everyday Habits was published in 2013.

Harold Rickenbacker

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Dr. Harold Rickenbacker is Clean Air and Innovation Manager at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) in Washington, DC. In his role, he focuses on developing and executing strategies to identify, test and demonstrate the value of hyperlocal insights, leading to commitments to reduce greenhouse gas and air pollution emissions. Prior to EDF, Harold completed his Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh, where he integrated engineering and environmental justice concepts with community-based organizations to address the pressing issue of indoor and outdoor air pollution in under-served communities. Harold has also worked closely with energy conservation districts to link energy efficiency meausres with indoor air quality improvements.

Veena Singla

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Veena Singla focuses on creating healthier indoor environments, including limiting the use of toxic chemicals in the built environment and every day products. She investigates how toxic chemicals and harmful environmental exposures threaten the health of vulnerable populations, including pregnant women, children and workers. Her research uses an interdisciplinary approach incorporating environmental health, exposure science, public health and policy expertise.


Veena specializes in the communication of complex scientific information at the intersection of research and policy and has testified to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Alaska state legislature, and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. She currently serves on the US EPA's Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee, the National Toxicology Program Board of Scientific Counselors, and the Board of Directors for Clean Production Action.


Veena previously was the Associate Director of Science and Policy at the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). She completed a postdoctoral teaching fellowship at Stanford University and was an adjunct faculty member at the University of San Francisco. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a PhD in cell biology from UCSF.

Henry Valles

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Henry Valles is the Founder of Hemp Building Ventures, a consulting and development company bringing hemp-based building materials to mainstream real estate and construction industries. He is also a founding Board Member of the US Hemp Building Association, the Texas Hemp Coalition and a licensed NAR GREEN Certified REALTOR® with Realty Austin. In 2017, He spearheaded Austin’s first hempcrete home in Community First Village, a community for the chronically homeless. Henry has presented at multiple conferences, such as the International Hemp Building Symposium, SXSW, SingularityU and EarthX. Inspired to bring more sustainable and non-toxic solutions to the real estate and building industries, Henry continues to educate his community and champion the use of hemp-based building materials through his real estate and hemp building consulting practices. 



Keynote + Introduction | May 24th, 2021

Keynote + Introduction | May 24th, 2021
Pt.1 Structural | June 7th, 2021

Pt.1 Structural | June 7th, 2021

Pt.2 Enclosure | June 21st, 2021

Pt.2 Enclosure | June 21st, 2021

Pt.3 Interiors | July 12th, 2021

Pt.3 Interiors | July 12th, 2021

Pt.4 Building Systems | July 19th, 2021

Pt.4 Building Systems | July 19th, 2021

Pt.5 Tomorrow’s Materials | Aug 2nd, 2021

Pt.5 Tomorrow’s Materials | Aug 2nd, 2021

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