If it’s a “green” building, shouldn’t it – by definition – be smoke-free?
Green buildings are not just about reducing the carbon footprint. Green standards for building are promulgated by the International Code Council, which states as its vision: “Protecting the health, safety, and welfare of people by creating better buildings and safer communities.” The International Green Construction Code (IGCC) embraces the same vision.
And yet, smoking is somehow OK with green building design. Both IGCC and LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Certification for buildings make allowances for indoor smoking.
In California and other progressive places that ban indoor smoking, this isn’t an issue. But in the rest of the world, we’re witnessing the irony of so-called green buildings filled with toxic smoke.
By now, everybody should know that second-hand smoke is dangerous and deadly. Residue from tobacco smoke — called third-hand smoke — is dangerous too. Basically, anything that smells like tobacco smoke is toxic.
In fact, there is no such thing as “safe” indoor smoking. The guidelines by IGCC and LEED for indoor smoking areas do not protect the health of people inside buildings – contrary to their vision statements claim.
According to the World Health Organization’s Tobacco Free Initiative, indoor designated smoking areas just don’t work. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems usually re-circulate air from smoking areas to non-smoking areas. When special ventilation and filtration systems are installed, the concentration of indoor smoke may be reduced, but never to a safe level. There is no such thing as a safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. So any building that allows smoking cannot be considered green.
The IGCC is holding public comment hearings on building standards; comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. When it comes to smoking, IGCC needs to hear it clearly: It can’t be a green building if indoor smoking is allowed.