Delve into the chemical industry to understand how regulations impact strategies for healthier building materials.

A closeup of a man holding a piece of rectangular sustainable block of concrete.
  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours
  • 100% online

    How it works
  • Included in an ExpertTrack

    Course 2 of 3
  • Get full ExpertTrack access

    $39/monthFind out more

Understand the current regulations in the chemical industry

On this three-week course, you’ll take a deep dive into the chemical industry and explore the absence of chemical regulation. You’ll investigate the chemicals we are exposed to in the home and built environment, and how healthier materials can be selected instead.

By the end, you’ll understand how chemistry is relevant to human health and shaping the world we live in.

Explore green chemistry

To help reduce hazardous substances, you’ll explore green chemistry and how the design of these chemical products and processes can fit into the big picture of making positive change.

You’ll explore the current environmental regulations and both the barriers and advocates for change.

Understand chemical classification in the built environment

You’ll gain an introduction to how chemicals are classified and the classes related to materials and health.

Through case studies, you’ll explore relevant hazards in building materials and chemicals of concern.

With this knowledge, you’ll understand the criteria for a healthier project.

Explore design principles and strategies

On the final week of the course, you’ll explore the strategies and guiding principles for designers in a healthier built environment.

You’ll learn techniques for engaging designers as you explore the different phases of a project and how to become an advocate for better building products and chemistry.


  • Week 1

    Unregulated Chemicals in the Building Industry

    • Welcome to the Course!

      Welcome to Week 1! It's time to find out what you'll learn about this week. You'll also have the chance to meet your instructors and introduce yourself to your fellow learners.

    • Absence of Chemical Regulation

      In this activity we'll learn about current chemical regulations, and the lack thereof. You'll see why this is important and what that means for healthier materials. We'll also introduce you to Green Chemistry and toxicology.

    • Barriers to Change

      In this activity, we'll explore the barriers to change. We'll do this through a case study of flame retardants. Then we'll look at some reasons for optimism.

    • Industry Advocacy

      Let's take a look at some advocacy and communication strategies. Then, we'll look at tools you can use for screening and evaluation.

    • Week 1 Wrap-Up

      Now that we're at the end of Week 1, let's take a moment to reflect on what you've learned.

  • Week 2

    Material Systems, Evaluations and Design

    • Welcome to Week 2

      Welcome to Week 2! Let's hear a little more about what you can expect to learn this week.

    • Classifying Chemicals

      First, we'll learn about chemical classification. You'll see why this is important for materials and health. We'll do this through a case study of hazards and building materials.

    • Chemicals of Concern

      Now that you know about the chemicals of concern, let's take a deep dive into what they really are.

    • Setting Healthier Project Criteria

      Now that you understand how chemicals of concern impact our health and environment, let's look at what you can do. We'll introduce you to some tools for screen and evaluation, and see how these are used in the industry.

    • Week 2 Wrap-Up

      Let's take a moment to reflect on what you have learned in Week 2 and look forward to what you can expect in Week 3.

  • Week 3

    Strategies and Guiding Principles for Designers

    • Welcome to Week 3

      Welcome to Week 3! Let's hear a little more about what you can expect to learn this week.

    • Education Phase

      Let's learn about the education phase. You'll understand how to engage designers, and when to move into in depth research. We'll also take a look at some bad actors.

    • Goal and Pre-Search Phases

      Once you complete the education phase, you move into the Goal Phase. You’ll learn to set goals and priorities. Let’s take a look at that, and then the pre-search phase.

    • Search Phase

      The final phase is the Search Phase. Here you’ll learn how to efficiently and effectively search for products. You’ll also become an advocate for healthier building products.

    • Course Wrap-up

      We've come to the end of Week 3, and of this course! Let's reflect on what you have learned. You'll have a chance to take a quiz to reinforce your learning. We'll also look ahead to the final course of this Expert Track.

Prove you're job ready

Highlight the new, job-relevant skills you’ve gained and supplement existing qualifications with a hard-earned, industry-specific digital certificate – plus one for every course within your ExpertTrack.

  • Learn the latest in your chosen industry or subject.
  • Complete each course and pass assessments.
  • Receive certificates validated by the educating organisation.
  • Impress employers with learning outcomes you can add to your CV.
  • Make your career dreams a reality.

Download a PDF

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Interpret why material health is important and why chemical regulation is important
  • Summarise the current chemical regulations and assess why regulations are needed
  • Evaluate the various tools, certifications, and standards for evaluating materials
  • Develop strategies for engaging designers in the healthy materials revolution

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in material health and the effect chemicals in materials have on human health and sustainability in the built environment.

You may work in the industry or simply be passionate about the health of populations and the environment.

Who will you learn with?

I am co-Director of Parsons Healthy Materials Lab in New York. See our work at and keep in touch at

Catherine, has led educational programming at Parsons Healthy Materials Lab since 2015. She also teaches at Columbia GSAPP and The New School.

Who developed the course?

Parsons School of Design

For more than a century, Parsons School of Design has been inspired by the transformative potential of design. Today, the school’s groundbreaking academic programs carry forward that mission, making Parsons the number one design school in the U.S. and among the top three globally. At the heart of a comprehensive university — The New School — Parsons draws on a range of academic fields to deliver a uniquely interdisciplinary education enriched by the resources of its home in New York City

About this ExpertTrack

Understand how building materials impact human health as you explore healthier materials and their use in sustainable building.

Start learning today - free 2-day trial

After your free trial you can:

  • Pay $39 per month to keep learning online
  • Have complete control over your subscription; you can cancel any time
  • Work at your own pace and set your own deadlines at every stage
  • Only pay while you’re learning; the subscription will cancel automatically when you finish
  • Complete online assessments to test your knowledge and prove your skills
  • Earn digital course certificates and a final award that you can share online, with potential employers, and your professional network
  • Keep access to the content of courses you complete even after your subscription ends

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Do you know someone who'd love this course? Tell them about it...