Healthy Building History

Healthy Building History

Following is the history of healthy buildings leading up to the formation of Healthy Building Inspections and Healthy Building Science. This abbreviated history of the healthy building movement captures many highlights but is in no way intended to be a complete history. There are so many heroes of past, so many untold stories. We can only touch upon the amazing contributions that have made Healthy Building Science a reality.

We believe a healthy environment and building is a right, not a privilege. This concept was not born in a vacuum.

For those mentioned below, and the many more left unmentioned, we are grateful for your contributions to the healthy building movement. As a company we continue to evolve as we help people make healthy buildings!

We emerged from caves and grasslands and eventually learned to build from readily available natural materials.

1772 BC

First Recorded Building Code

Babylonian King Hammurabi creates what is considered the earliest building code.

400 BC

Lead poisoning first described

Hippocrates describes lead poisoning.


First lead paint ban.

France, Belgium and Austria ban white-lead interior paint.


Leaded gas

Lead was introduced into gasoline to raise octane levels and combat engine knock.


First auto emissions standards

California becomes the first to impose automotive emissions standards. Automakers unite to fight standards leading to an anti-trust suit that is not settled until 1969.


Silent Spring

Rachel Carson's book exposes pesticide's impacts on humans and our ecological systems. Brings environmental awareness to the masses. Many attribute this book as the single largest driver of the CAA and the CWA.


April 22, 1970 marked the first Earth Day

The idea came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.


Clean Air Act (CAA)

President Nixon signs the Clean Air Act, which required that the EPA lower emissions of lead, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and other airborne pollutants by 90% in only a few years.


Clean Water Act (CWA)

First US federal regulations of basic water quality requirements and pollution prevention.


Consumer Product Safety Commission and lead-based paint ban

Several rounds of legislation created the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which effectively banned lead based paint for residential use* in 1978, though remaining stocks were allowed to be sold until 1980.


EMF and childhood cancer article in US

Paper published in American Journal of Epidemiology links electrical wiring errors and magnetic fields to higher incidence of childhood cancer.


Biophilia concept articulated

E.O. Wilson introduced the theory of Biophilia, that humans have an innate and evolutionary affinity for living systems.


Building Biology comes to US

Helmut Ziehe, Graduate of the original Baubiologie training and Architect from Germany, introduced building biology to the United States. He founded the International Institute of Building Biologie and Ecology (IBE).


Asbestos ban

EPA issued the Asbestos Ban and Phase Out Rule, later overturned.


A (Energy) Star is born

EPA launches Energy Star as a voluntary labeling program for energy efficient products.


First Unbiased Green Building News - EBN

Environmental Building News was founded by Alex Wilson and remains subscription funded - not ad funded. EBN started as a newsletter and soon became, probably THE most influential websites in the green building movement.


Mold hits headlines

The connection between mold and maladies made headlines, when 10 cases of bleeding lung syndrome in infants in Cleveland were linked by the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to Stachybotrys, a toxic mold that had bred in flood water left standing in homes." And later, NY Times article "The Mold Scare: Overblown or Not?" By PHILIP J. HILTS Published: October 23, 1997


USGBC founded

United States Green Building Council founded to change the building industry through market demand. Industry supported membership organization.


Lead ban for gasoline

Lead ban for gasoline put into effect.


Telecommunications Act of 1996

Lobbyists somehow convince Gov't to include language that barred any community discussion of potential health impacts in municipal proceedings for siting cellular towers and antennas. To this day, any discussion of health impacts from RF emissions is not allowed, regardless of proximity to schools, elderly care centers, and hospitals.


Biomimicry concept born

Biomimicry by Janine Benyus is published, emphasizing that nature is the ultimate measuring stick for success. Her book later inspired Jason McLennon in designing the Living Building Challenge.


LEEDv1.0 pilot launched

USGBC releases first version of a green building rating system called Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED).


LEEDv2.0 launched

By this time LEED was generally recognized as the first nationally accepted green building rating system. Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) version 2.0 made certification more challenging and raised the bar.


LEED for Homes Pilot

USGBC launches green building rating system specifically for homes, and second versions (V2.0) is released for New Construction (NC), Commercial Interiors (CI), and Existing Building Operations & Maintenance (EBOM).


Water damage restoration industry standard released

IInstitute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC) publishes what is now considered the industry standard of care for water damage remediation: ANSI/IICRC S500 Water Damage Restoration Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration


Living Building Challenge announced

Living Building Challenge launched by Jason McLennan and the International Living Future Institute. Generally considered to be the most stringent green building rating system in the world, the Living Building Challenge continues to push the boundaries of what our industry thought was possible in the built environment.


Pharos Project launched

Pharos Project launched to bring greater transparency to the building materials marketplace. It was described as “a user-friendly materials evaluation tool that strives to be transparent, comprehensive, independent, accurate and fair.” We use it daily at Healthy Building Science!


NIBS updated standard for BECx

National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) issues "The Exterior Enclosure Technical Requirements for the Commissioning Process NIBS Guideline 3-2006."


Mold remediation industry standard released

IICRC publishes what is now considered the industry standard of care for mold remediation:
BSR-IICRC S520 Mold Remediation Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation.


An Inconvenient Truth

Movie about global green house gases and human impact on the global climate. Anchored by Al Gore, the move reinvigorates the environmental movement in the US.


BioInitiative 2007 first released

Compilation of peer-reviewed and published health studies citing biological impacts of EMF/EMR at relatively low exposure levels. Report draws media attention and suggests a need for more stringent exposure standards in US.


Healthy Building Inspections LLC

Alex Stadtner founded HBI and incorporated in the state of California. Corporate address in San Francisco. Concept to bring industrial hygiene environmental assessments to the residential market. Consumer demand for Green Building Consulting was apparent early on.


HBI sprouts shoots

The team grew:
Office Manager
Environmental Inspector
Green Building Consultant


First branch office

HBS opens first branch office in San Rafael, CA. Marin County.


BioInitiative 2012 (2.0) released

Updated compilation of peer-reviewed and published health studies citing biological impacts of EMF/EMR at relatively low exposure levels. Includes more recent studies from the 2007 report. Strongly urges regulators to adopt more stringent exposure standards in US.


HBI transitions to HBS

Team decides Healthy Building Inspections was not representative of the Green Building Consulting offered under the company umbrella. Decide to Do Business As: "Healthy Building Science"


NIBS releases BECx Guideline 3-2012

Building Enclosure Commissioning Process, released on June 1, updates the standard and describes a process that allows an owner to incorporate building enclosure commissioning (BECx) into a project.


HBI grows

The team grew:
3rd Environmental Inspector


HBS grows more

The team grew:
2nd Green Building Consultant


Bay Area Green Business

HBS is officially recognized as a Bay Area Green Business.


Certified B Corp

HBS joins an elite group of sustainable business leaders in the B Corp community. Certification involves a third party audit of triple bottom line systems and accounting: people, planet, profits


LBE Status

HBS acquires official recognition from City of San Francisco = Micro Local Business Enterprise (Micro LBE)


And grew...

The team grew:
4th Environmental Inspector