Tags: #buildingmaterials #buildingscience #ethics

Product “X” is defective. Though it does what code says it must, it doesn’t comply with the code’s intent. Is it truly defective? Can we speak of it as so? Do we speak of it at all?

Now imagine Product X is implicated in a claim involving millions of dollars. Suppose it was installed on hundreds or even thousands of buildings. 

These matters have a way of sorting themselves out in the legal system – behind closed doors; protected by NDAs and confidentiality agreements. The truth finds light only occasionally through hushed-toned conversations – perhaps over drinks at that next conference.  Until one day Product X is no longer on the market; or it has morphed into something else with a new shine and a new name. And until that time, case studies and open discourse of Product X are discouraged. After all, manufacturer of Product X is a big sponsor of Organization A and Event B.  And Organization A discourages the use of trade names – unless of course it’s hung from a banner at the next event. All the while, Product X is still being specified, it’s still being used, and it has untold cost financially, emotionally, and even environmentally. 

We have all seen such dilemmas. They reflect a delicate balance between our professional codes of ethics which straddle transparency and impartiality over non-disclosure and confidentiality. But do we think of the real ramifications? Is there a better way to prevent these dilemmas – to discuss them openly and to ultimately help solve them?