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Green Building News

Building Products Dealer Dumps FedEx

475 High Performance Building Supply says FedEx corporate support for 'extremist, deadly' views of National Rife Association prompts the switch

A FedEx shipping break for NRA members has prompted a New York-based retailer of building materials to take its business elsewhere.
Image Credit: Frankieleon via Flickr

Builders who order specialty supplies from New York-based 475 High Performance Building Supply can stop looking for the FedEx delivery truck.

The company has announced it will stop using FedEx “wherever possible” because of corporate support for the National Rifle Association and will use alternatives like UPS instead. The statement, posted on the company’s website March 15, said reducing gun violence is as much an “existential imperative” as cutting carbon emissions through better building practices.

“Arming U.S. citizens with automatic weapons is not a result of a vote or even popular opinion, but allowed by politicians whose opinions are bought and coerced by the National Rifle Association,” the statement said. “The same way an individual building project can fight fossil fuel interests, individual companies are now asked to stand up and refuse to engage with those who prioritize unfettered gun sales over common sense.”

A FedEx marketing program that gives discounted rates to members of the NRA was behind the move, said chief operating officer Ken Levenson, and 475 was inspired by such companies as Ben & Jerry’s, Delta and Patagonia in distancing themselves from the pro-gun lobbying organization. The move comes at a time of intense political pressure on Congress to toughen gun laws, including the student-led“March for Our Lives” protests over the weekend.

The company said FedEx support for the NRA’s “extremist, deadly, and socially destructive positions” should be resisted, adding, “Hence we will not willfully use or fund companies that counteract our values and compromise our planet and people’s overall well being.”

Despite the switch, the company said customers shouldn’t experience slower delivery schedules. Four-seven-five sells a variety of air-sealing, insulation, and ventilation products not generally available in Big Box stores, including tapes, gaskets, membranes, and adhesives popular with high-performance builders.

Levenson said 475 will continue to use FedEx in Canada, but will be able to find alternatives in the U.S. 99% of the time.

“We can’t get rid of FedEx entirely,” he said by telephone, “and we don’t think that boycotting this company or that company is going to rock the world. But we want to show some pressure, and contribute to some momentum.”

FedEx spells out position

In a statement of its own, FedEx says it is aware of “some continuing concerns related to the NRA.”

FedEx says the NRA is one of hundreds of organizations enrolled in a marketing program whose members get lower rates for shipping.

The statement reads in part, “FedEx is a common carrier under federal law and therefore does not and will not deny service or discriminate against any leal entity regardless of their policy positions or political views.” The price breaks are for businesses and people who belong to the NRA, not for the NRA itself.

FedEx adds that it does not believe assault rifles should be in the hands of U.S. citizens.

“While we strongly support the constitutional right of U.S. citizens to own firearms subject to appropriate background checks, FedEx views assault rifles and large capacity magazines as an inherent potential danger to schools, workplaces, and communities when such weapons are misused,” the statement said “We therefore support restricting them to the military. Most important, FedEx believes urgent action is required at the local, state, and federal level to protect schools and students from incidents such as the horrific tragedy in Florida on February 14th.”

Levenson called the FedEx statements a “distraction trying to move people’s eyes off the ball,” adding the company could alter the voluntary marketing program to exclude the NRA without running afoul of any federal regulations.

“The NRA is such a fundamentally bad actor in our democracy that when someone is given the opportunity to put some daylight between it, we hope they take it,” Levenson said.


  1. user-6846716 | | #1

    where are the moderators now?
    you show your true cards. now you leverage youth to disarm a nation I suggest you go study history and see who the last political party who pulled that off Heil Hogg!

  2. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #2

    This is a story reporting on
    This is a story reporting on a news item, not representing a political agenda by GBA. 475 is a supplier many of us who frequent GBA use regularly, and they are taking a bold stance, for better or worse. If anything, Martin tends to be critical of 475 representatives when they post here.

  3. syadasti | | #3

    user-6846716 doesn't know history
    Just like Martin, the truth comes from Vermont based experts:

    "If the United States is going to arrive at a workable compromise solution to its gun problem, it will not be accomplished through the use of historical analogies that are false, silly and insulting. Similarly, coming to terms with a civilizational breach of the magnitude of the Holocaust requires a serious encounter with history, rather than political sloganeering that exploits history as a prop for mobilizing one’s base.

    Alan E. Steinweis is a professor of history and Holocaust studies at the University of Vermont. He is the author of three books, including, most recently, “Kristallnacht 1938.”"

  4. calum_wilde | | #4

    Way too political for GBA. I
    Way too political for GBA. I feel like I should get a chair and some popcorn to sit back and watch the fireworks that will be this comment chain.

  5. Andrew_C | | #5

    moderate this
    I agree w/ Calum. I understand the article, but it does seem like click-bait. If "political" commentary ensues, I would encourage the moderators to kill the thread, and perhaps delete the article. We just don't need this on this website. There is too much divisiveness surrounding us.

  6. AlanB4 | | #6

    In a free country
    In a free country companies can choose who they use to ship their products. So this is freedom in action. If you want to support those who support automatic weapons you can, and if you don't then you don't have to.

    Feels good to exercise your rights, doesn't it?

  7. user-349933 | | #7

    Green News more fitting then GBA
    At least The Journal Of Light Building Construction is still out there for those of us who are still interested in the building part of construction instead of the political posturing that seems to have invaded GBA. I think my subscription there is a fraction of what it cost to belong to GBA. The sad thing is that those of us who want the building portion of this site have to pay for it while those that just click on for the more political articles get it for free so we end up subsidizing the the political articles! Why not lower the subscription cost and charge everyone the same price. GBA really needs to change the name to something that is more true to the content. Perhaps Green News. When Delta dropped the NRA I think they reported a total of 14 people had used the discount program. I bet more then 14 people dropped Delta after their cave to political pressure. The one climate change that no one can deny is the change in the political climate and how it has invaded everything we read and do. Hey I was even called a Nazi on this site and Martin didn't bother to take that down so much for building.

  8. user-6908581 | | #8

    This seems odd
    For a building supply company to take an extreme political stance. If it were my business, I think I would avoid making any political statements at the risk of offending half my customers.

    It seems common sense isn't common anymore.

    I think the fact of the matter is almost all of us want the same thing, we just disagree about how to get to that goal. There is just so much polarization for no reason whatsoever. Full disclosure, I am not an NRA member. I don't hunt or have any strong feelings on firearms either way. That said, does anyone honestly believe that NRA members want there to be more school shootings (their kids go to school also)? No, everyone wants fewer shootings; the disagreement is how to accomplish that goal, and people should be able to talk about it. Is arming citizens better, or banning, or most likely somewhere in between? It's sad there is very little civil discourse anymore, and news is filtered through the outlet reporting it to try to sell an agenda and an outcome rather than report and encourage the aforementioned civil discourse.

    There was a mass shooting with more fatalities than the recent school shooting recently. It was stopped by a licensed NRA instructor who took out the shooter. Does that mean I support the NRA's views? Not necessarily, but it should be a part of the discussion as I've heard that argument made repeatedly. I'm not seeing it being taken as a point of fact for the counter argument at all. Shouldn't it be, even if you disagree?

    This does allow me to teach my kids the principle of voting with your wallet, as I've been spending quite a bit of time on 475's site looking at products including intello and some of their tapes. I can now explain why I won't purchase from them as I find their stance and explanation of their FedEx boycott illogical. At the same time, 475 is completely free to say and do what they please and I support their right to do so. From the outside, I see the NRA as a pro-gun, pro 2nd Amendment organization; I don't see them as a pro-school shooting organization (again, they have kids in schools also) and I think you are intellectually dishonest when you attempt to portray them that way. Argue the merits of your position, whatever it may be, don't get angry and demonize anyone that disagrees with you; in the end you both most likely want the same outcome.

  9. GBA Editor
    Scott Gibson | | #9

    Why we reported this story
    Just to be clear, GBA doesn't have a position on either the FedEx rate discount plan for NRA members, or 475's reaction to it. We reported this because we find it newsworthy. Many of our readers are familiar with 475 High Performance Building Supply and the products it sells. The company is reacting to events around it. We're letting you know what happened.

  10. lhbasle | | #10

    Came here to read about ICFs????
    Then I see in the 475 article above and in the comments references to the NRA advocating automatic weapons...this is just not true... Propagating those false narratives without correction lets me know to take my business elsewhere.

  11. brendanalbano | | #11

    I appreciate the politics
    I just want to thank GBA for reporting on political issues, I think it matters, and is worth talking about, and while gun control isn't explicitly related to green building, 475 Building Supply is, which makes this on topic enough for me!

    I appreciate companies taking extreme political stances.

    On the one hand, companies are machines for making money, and perhaps offending customers runs counter to that goal.

    On the other hand, companies are run by people, and those people likely have political and ethical beliefs, and if the owners of 475 believe that ditching Fedex is the right thing to do, even at the cost of maximizing profits, it seems like common sense ought to dictate that they run their company in the way that is in line with their values.

    It seems so odd to me to want to keep politics out of green building discussion.

    Green building is fundamentally a political and ethical topic. Sure, some of it relates to saving money, but, for example, many recommend avoiding XPS and high GWP spray foam and the like for political and ethical reasons, not for cost reasons.

    So let's keep talking politics. I think it's worth it.

  12. fourforhome | | #12

    Keeping it brief
    In today's New York Times op-ed piece, retired Justice John Stevens back-handedly affirmed that the 2nd amendment IS " the only legal rule that protects sellers of firearms in the United States."
    The NRA, without having killed anybody, organizes and lobbies to protect Americans 2nd amendment rights.
    475's COO Levenson says "The NRA is such a fundamentally bad actor in our democracy," Levenson said.
    Levenson is so full of himself. (He needs to keep it to himself.)
    475 would have been better to keep their mouths shut and not engaged in virtue signalling with their hissy fit over FedEx.

  13. kyeser | | #13

    475 has every right to take a poltical stand, but this seems like more of a publicity stunt. Hopefully it backfires.

    I agree with previous posts, keep the political commentary off the site.

  14. thermooo | | #14

    using dead kids to make a profit, shady 475.
    "Automatic weapons", really 475? Automatic weapons have not been legal for sale since 1986. Next time you try to make a profit over a deadly tragedy, try to be a little educated on the topic.

  15. calum_wilde | | #15

    Brendan Alban,Green building
    Brendan Alban,

    Green building is certainly an ethical topic, but I don't think it's fundamentally a political one. In the US where every topic is overly politicized it is often the focus of political debate, but I don't think the subject is fundamentally political.

    That said, if anyone is paying attention, I'd prefer to leave the politics out of GBA. The political discussions are important, I just think this isn't the place for it. Just one readers opinion to add to the pile.

  16. charlie_sullivan | | #16

    If you don't like it, blame 475, not GBA
    For the readers who are taking offense at 475's stance here, I hope you will pause to appreciate the fact the GBA provided this news to you so that you can opt to avoid buying from 475, or write to them to complain, or whatever. In other words, don't shoot the messenger (GBA) for reporting something that is apparently important to you.

  17. CMObuilds | | #17

    Like others Im not getting the automatic weapons reference, that is showing severe lack of understanding.

    Are they referring to bump stocks? You can replicate what a bump stock does with a rubber band, so we gonna outlaw rubber bands?

    And fedex doesnt support assault weapons in public hands. Very few of the public has assault weapons, they are extremely expensive and regulated. AR does not stand for assault rifle, rather Armalite. An AR 15 or similar available to the public is not an assault rifle because it does not have selective fire. Military has assault rifles. Those rifles have selective fire.

    If you want to get behind something get behind laws regarding magazine capacity, because that is what is getting more people killed, doesnt matter what the gun looks like.

    So no more orders to 475 for blatant stupidity.

    And why does GBA find this newsworthy to the content of their site? More decline.

  18. Ken Levenson | | #18

    semi-automatic....and other observations
    Thank you, thermoo for the correction in terminology - I've updated our post to read semi-automatic.

    However we should note the NRA's position on automatic weapons, as reported in Slate: "...NRA lobbying chief Wayne LaPierre was quoted in an article in the NRA newspaper Monitor as saying that repealing the automatic weapons ban would be “a top priority.” "

    Two more quick notes:
    Our public notice was essentially to our customers through our blog and newsletter - we seek no wider publicity. GBA called us, and obviously, they are free to print what they like.

    Also, 475 defines sustainability broadly - and we encourage others to do so as well.
    Our focus is on mitigating the worst effects of climate change, using less toxic materials, reducing waste, and simply trying to leave this planet a better place than we found it. We find it useful to not compartmentalize what's important, but see how such attitudes can positively effect how we define ourselves as family members, community members, citizens, consumers and workers.

    If interested in hearing more about what drives 475, please see our blog post "What's 475 About":

  19. user-349933 | | #19

    Why is GBA running ads against Fed EX?
    Why does 475 bother to announce the change in who they use to ship products? In the end it isn't about them making a choice for their own business but they are trying to put pressure on Fed Ex to end the discount program they have with NRA members.
    My goal is the same. I would like GBA to end the discount program where they give free access to the portion of the site that frequently post articles of a political nature while charging steeply for the building side. If non building articles like the above are of value to GBA readers why not charge for them as well. Say if 50% of readers are non payers and 50% payers why not charge everyone and reduce the subscription rate by half?
    What is 475's goal. If Fed Ex ended the discount program would they be satisfied? Why not go a step further and only sell products to non gun owners or at least require buyers to check a box that they don't belong to the NRA?

  20. user-6908581 | | #20

    In response to Charlie
    Charlie, I do appreciate the story. I was just surprised to see something of a political nature and was taken aback at first. I wasn't reading 475's blog, and I would have regretted a purchase if I would have found out about this after the fact.

    To Ken, I'll just reiterate what I stated above; is your goal less shootings or no guns? I don't think there are any members of the NRA that want another Vegas or school mass shooting. They have kids too. I've talked to people passionate about both sides of this issue. What honestly surprised me was how knowledgeable hunters/NRA members (in my experience they were the same) are on nature, circle of life, and the sustainability of natural resources. They would agree with you on most of your concerns. They would disagree with you that removing legally owned guns would have any significant effect on gun violence. They would also believe strongly in the Second Amendment. For that, you would demonize them, and I honestly don't think that's constructive and short sited on your part. We all want fewer shootings, and whether the answer is more people armed or less, I don't believe anyone really cares. I don't see the 2nd Amendment going away, so a goal of no guns and ad hominem attacks against an organization may give you an outlet to express your frustrations, but it also keeps people from discussing the real issue (the shootings themselves) and the real differences in proposed solutions to dealing with the problem. You can still respect the NRA and the issues you agree with most of their members on, while honestly acknowledging where you disagree with them (as they can with you), without disliking each other. Then you can have a genuine debate over what solutions might solve (or reduce) the problem.

  21. brendanalbano | | #21

    Green building and politics
    Calum Wilde,

    I know we're perhaps veering a little off-topic here, but it seems to me that ultimately, for green building to have an impact on energy use at a national or global scale, we rely on improving the energy codes and building codes. Changing laws is pretty dang close to the definition of political in my book, so that's where the politics seems to be inextricably linked to green building from my point of view.

  22. ethan_TFGStudio | | #22

    changing the law will change what's legal
    constant references to what's legal ignores what's right...

    ...but it's true, i came here to read about windows, not guns

  23. calum_wilde | | #23

    Brendan Albano
    That I agree with. Excellent point. In that regard I enjoy reading articles about code changes and how those changes benefit people/the planet.

    I still say gun control debates belongs elsewhere though.

  24. Ken Levenson | | #24

    in response to Michael
    Appreciate your comments.

    The argument is for sensible gun regulations including a ban on semi-automatic rifles.

    While the NRA membership may have a diverse set of opinions about regulating gun ownership, it seems fair to say that the NRA itself has staked an extreme position, loaded it with emotion and fear and poured unprecedented money into politics to enforce those extreme positions - raising the specter of the end of democracy if their efforts fail - and without flinching after each mass shooting.

    There can be another, less rancorous and sensible way. This article in the Boston Globe describes how after the Sandy Hook massacre, Connecticut was able to pass just such common sense legislation.

    When the NRA itself can stake out a moderate position and support such reasonable legislation - then I think the rancor will immediately dissipate.

  25. CMObuilds | | #25

    In response to Kent L
    So 475 gun control position is for sensible gun regulations, ban on semi-automatic weapons so my grandpas old 30-06 deer hunting Woodsmaster from the early 60's now is banned, I believe it holds 5 cartridges, he will miss it.

    But my semi-automatic shotgun (shotgun isnt a rifle, I'm sure 475 knows that) for goose hunting is ok, and handguns are fine and 50 round, 100 round drum magazines for both are ok. 475 might want to add those to their solution to US gun violence as well since its definitely not a mental health issue.

    Just trying to help out a great company trying to change the world, for profit of course. Great job.

  26. Ken Levenson | | #26

    In response to T Carlson
    Should have I said the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons? That's what i meant, anyway. ....and i'm afraid that's wrong too! ;)

    I'm not aware of any serious proposed regulations that would mandate confiscation of any guns from owners. I think such fears are a good example of the NRA fueling the debate with strawmen arguments, that do an effective job of preventing compromise and agreement.'s always weird when people are attacked if they are trying to make a profit working to "change the world"...seems like it should be a win-win.

  27. Expert Member
    MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #27

    Changing the world
    I'm sick to death of anyone going on about wanting to "change the world" - especially by building their own high performance house. The phrase came into popular use from large millennial-run technology companies like Facebook. We could probably do without their type of changes thanks.

    Find something useful to do. Cultivate and nourish your community. Pursue realistic goals. Changing the world isn't one of them.

  28. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #28

    We all have our spheres of
    We all have our spheres of influence; none of them are all-encompassing, but many of us work hard at moving the ball forward, if only by inches at a time. We all have the opportunity to change the world; you just need the humility to understand that you can't do it alone, and the results of your individual efforts may not be measurable.

    I agree that super high performance, single-family homes are not going to solve our problems on their own. But in the same way that NASA has driven technological development on a broad scale, the kinds of projects that Ken and 475 supply and promote, and that I work on given the opportunity, are the ones that set the bar for others to follow.

    Boycotting FedEx may be akin to tilting at windmills, but if nothing else it has brought attention to the power of a single business to effect change--including the power to turn away potential customers.

    Finding something useful to do, cultivating and nourishing his community, pursuing realistic goals and indeed changing the world is exactly what Ken is doing.

  29. Expert Member
    MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #29

    I have no views on Ken's efforts to integrate social change with his business. I'll leave that to American citizens who are directly affected. My point was a wider one. There is an element of hubris around the idea that domestic US gun policy, or high performance building, or a hundred other local practices, changes the wider world in any way. Why does that matter? because it confuses the goals we set when we pursue a course of action. Without clear goals we don't know what we are trying to achieve.

    How many of the blogs featured here on GBA start out with some sort of confused mission statement like "I wanted to show the world it was possible to build a green house and live ecologically" - as though they were the first people to build that way and the whole world is watching. That simply isn't useful or a realistic goal. Build the house, do business with who you believe are good partners, cultivate your community, change the lives of the people around you, smile ruefully and shake your head at those who claim they are changing the world.

  30. exeric | | #30

    I support you, Ken
    It's too bad you were dragged into this debate here simply because you included the information in your company blog. What you're standing for makes me MORE likely to purchase from your company. There are a lot of individuals that have a visceral reaction against someone with empathy for the wider world that is outside of their sphere of personal interaction. I've always felt that such strong reactions from people, who one would think would take a disinterested view, must come from some deep place of personal emptiness. When you don't feel a connection and empathy for that wider world of people and creatures it must be particularly painful to observe that others do have it.

    I'll say it again: you're on the right tract and don't mind the naysayers.

  31. No123456789 | | #31

    I for one appreciate the article for clarifying where I should, and should not spend my money. An added incentive to buy domestic over european is another a bonus.

  32. BobHr | | #32

    So there is a misuse of a
    So there is a misuse of a product so we punish the innocent. In GB they have a gun ban. The weapon of choice is a knife. London had more murders last month than NYC. Now they laws about carrying a knife. An 80 yo man fought off two 2 burglars killing one. Because he used a knife to defend himself he is being charged with a crime.

    Why is it we go after the inamimate object instead of the criminals. Any murder is horrible but let's not take away our rights because of criminals.

    Teach our youth to value all life. Media glorifies death/violence, the drug culutre, anti social behavior etc. Abortion and euthansaisa is viewed by many as normal.

    Law abiding citizens have a right to protection and if they choose to have a gun that is there choice. Businesses that don't support that right may feel the choice of consumers to shop elsewhere.

  33. Expert Member
    MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #33

    Not to detract from your point, but the 80 year old in the UK faces no charges for his actions.

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