Why Materials Matter

Session 1, Why Materials Matter: Building Product Impacts, kicks off the Materials Matter program with a candid overview of why materials matter for both environmental and human health. The session focuses on what impacts material substances can have on our environment and how we measure and track those impacts. It will introduce the primary methods used to assess the environmental impact of materials, including life-cycle assessment, and the tools available to help identify and prioritize healthy, sustainable materials.

  • Participants will be able to describe the context of healthy materials through understanding the role materials play in human and environmental health.
  • Participants will be able to summarize the ethical and business cases for paying increased attention to materials in the built environment.
  • Participants will be able describe how material substances impact the environment, what are different categories of impacts, and how we measure and track them.
  • Participants will be able to identify common methods used to assess the environmental impacts of materials and describe opportunities and limitations of the methods.
  • Participants will be able to explain life-cycle assessment and tools which use LCA to determine materials environmental impact.

Series page »


Amelia Nestler, Northwest Green Chemistry: Healthy Materials Overview
Erin McDade, Architecture 2030: The Time Value of Carbon
Ryan Temple, Sustainable Northwest Wood: Oregon Forestry
Jordan Palmeri, Oregon DEQ: Materials Management

Lona Rerick ZGF Architects | Jeff Frost Brightworks Sustainability LLC | Yuakari Kubo Yost Grube Hall Architecture | Ren DeCherney Krowdsourced

About the Presenters

Lona Rerick, an architect and specifier at ZGF, is a passionate advocate for connecting today’s design and construction decisions to our shared legacy. With more than 20 years of experience, she guides clients, design teams and contractors in sustainable design strategies with a focus on the impact of material selection on ecosystems and health. Currently, Lona serves on the Health Product Declaration Collaborative’s Technical Committee; as chair of AIA National’s Materials Knowledge Working Group; and as a founding co-Chair of the Portland Materials Transparency Collaborative.



Jeff Frost is a Project Manager at Brightworks Sustainability, a sustainability consulting firm that helps clients in over 25 industries establish and implement sustainability programs. He is co-chair of the Health Product Declaration Collaborative’s (HPDC) Content Inventory Technical Subgroup and Member of the HPDC’s User Advisor Panel; co-chair of the mindful MATERIALS Admin Working Group; and an invited member of the American Institute of Architect’s Material Knowledge Working Group; and elected member of the USGBC’s MR TAG. He is an invited speaker on a range of topics and resides in Portland, OR with his wife and three sons.




Amelia Nestler, PhD
Senior Research Scientist
Dr. Amelia Nestler brings to Northwest Green Chemistry her background in biochemistry research, teaching, event management, and alternatives assessment. Amelia serves NGC’s mission to enhance human and environmental health via green chemistry and engineering by leading NGC’s webinar series for green technology entrepreneurs, performing research on diverse green chemistry and engineering subjects, and contributing to project and program development and the operational management of the organization. Recently, Amelia led research and preparation of NGC’s Washington State Antifouling Boat Paint Alternatives Assessment report, and NGC’s facilitation of the Emerald Corridor Green Chemistry & Engineering Roadmap (2018-2023): Goals & Recommendations for Collective Impact.  Previously, Amelia supported GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals at Clean Production Action by presenting at workshops in the green building sector and developing materials for on-line training courses. Amelia earned her doctorate in Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her B.A. in Biochemistry at Lewis & Clark College.

Erin McDade is a Program Manager for Architecture 2030. She brings to the organization a background in architecture, with a focus on sustainable building research and analysis. She leads Architecture 2030’s embodied carbon initiatives including the 2030 Challenge for Products, as well as many of Architecture 2030’s educational initiatives including the AIA+2030 Series and the China Zero Net Carbon curriculum project. She is one of the founding members and current chairs of the Embodied Carbon Network, sits on the advisory board of the Carbon Leadership Forum, is a member of the City of Bellingham Climate Action Plan Taskforce, and is a member of both the AIA Materials Knowledge Working Group and the AIA 2030 Commitment Working Group.


Mark Fretz is an Assistant Research Professor and Associate Director of Outreach at the University of Oregon’s Institute for Health in the Built Environment. A designer, researcher and former Public Health Service clinician, Mark synthesizes diverse experience to facilitate knowledge exchange between the Institute’s Industry Consortium, research labs, collaborators and stakeholders. His research interests are focused on exploring and designing synergies that optimize human occupant health while reducing energy use in buildings. An important theme in this exploration is understanding how human migration from outdoor to indoor dwelling has affected evolutionary mechanisms connected with health and how architectural design can restore these relationships.

For the last decade, David Barmon has been co-owner of Fiddlehead LLC, a landscape construction company in Portland Oregon. Fiddlehead has a strong focus on sustainable stormwater mitigation, growing native and edible plants as well as high quality stonework and woodworking. In 2014, Dave co-founded Epilogue LLC, a company that mills urban trees into lumber. Epilogue LLC sells wood products through Sustainable NW Wood, an award winning lumber yard in SE Portland. Epilogue LLC also makes custom furniture such as tables and benches.
Over the last decade, David has been a strong advocate not only for better wood utilization from current urban tree removals but also intentionally growing urban trees for lumber. In 2015, David worked with the Oregon State legislature to fund the Clackamas County Urban Lumber Pilot Project, a feasibility study to determine the economics of a more holistic urban forestry system. David envision a future where urban trees can be planted and managed to yield high quality lumber. This will give landowners an incentive to plant billions of new trees around the world and stop the rampant waste of chopping up city trees.

As President of Sustainable Northwest Wood, Ryan Temple is a regional leader in the effort to provide local and sustainable wood products to the green building community. Sustainable Northwest is a woodyard focused exclusively on offering local products from responsibly managed forests. While the majority of the product SNW Wood sells is FSC certified, that which is not often exceeds the standard by being forests that are being managed to restore functioning ecosystems. Ryan also directed the Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities Partnership, a network of locally owned mills and forests committed to creating sustainable forest-based employment in their communities.