The most interesting presentation I attended there was the introduction of a new group of associations and manufacturers devoted to communicating mold and moisture awareness. The Responsible Solutions to Mold Coalition targets the construction community, as well as homeowners, on the truths and fallacies of mold. Given the wealth of information on the fungi-my last Google search produced 23,100,000 results-the coalition's mission is to provide a user-friendly resource on mold and moisture control.
"While five years ago there was a dearth of information on moisture and mold control, just the opposite is true today," says Frank Nunes, member of the RSMC and secretary for the International Institute for Lath and Plaster. "If anything, the industry suffers from too much information that needs to be evaluated and put into a format that is more useful to both the construction industry and homeowners."
The coalition has 12 industry related members, representing manufacturers, associations, government and academics. This includes the Northwest Wall & Ceiling Bureau, the Western Wall & Ceiling Contractors Association, AWCI, USG (who initially spearheaded this project), as well as the National Institute of Building Sciences and NAIMA. The group hopes to add members and strengthen its forum. The coalition will not be endorsing products, encouraging code changes or developing any of its own standards.
For far too long, the myth of mold has been hyperbole, made very public through the Ed McMahon's of the world and ambulance chasing lawyers looking for the next asbestos. All of us in the walls and ceilings industry know that out of the millions of different species of mold, only a handful are toxic and few justify costly remediation. It is a testimony to our industry that a venue, such as this coalition has formed to come along and explain to educate the mass public on what is a true health hazard and what can easily be remedied when it comes to mold.
Currently, RSMC's Web site, www.responsiblemoldsolutions.org, outlines its mission and offers a range of basic, technical and academic information. Later this year, the RSMC plans to host and/or participate in industry forums. Also, you can visit the site to sign up for the group's quarterly newsletter.
In the right fashion, I believe this coalition will help the industry. For one, it will indirectly encourage architects and builders to focus on better construction practices, particularly on the building envelope where moisture is most prone to enter. As we know, mold needs moisture to grow.
Another benefit will be to curb fear amongst homeowners. A recent poll conducted by Ducker Worldwide found that 86 percent of the 400 surveyed were "very concerned about mold." The RSMC will help educate homeowners and hopefully we see mold-based lawsuits dwindle. Through its presence, the RSMC may also encourage better governmental standards on indoor air quality.
"Everyone connected with the building industry has a stake in making sure effective solutions are embraced in solving this problem," says Robert Daniels, director emeritus of the Tile Council of North America. "First and foremost, consumers and business owners will be more satisfied with their homes and buildings. Builders can avoid expensive callbacks, warranty claims and even litigation, and the financial community can be assured of the long-term security of the investment it underwrites."
The Web site has correct information that will guide the builder and homeowner on mold and moisture control issues. It's here for us, so let's employ it as needed.