The Signal: News and Notes from the Pharos Team - Bill Walsh's Posts

originally published in Healthy Building News

Ramping up its assault on the US Green Building Council's initiative to offer credits for reducing toxic chemicals in LEED®-certified buildings (see Chemical Giants Target The USGBC: Part 1), the American Chemistry Council this week announced the formation of the American High Performance Buildings Coalition (AHPBC).

This organization is comprised of 27 trade associations (including the Vinyl Institute, the Vinyl Siding Institute, and the Flexible Vinyl Alliance). It appears to be designed primarily to stop new, voluntary credits proposed for LEED that would reward efforts to slightly reduce the use of highly toxic chemicals in...

published 5/22/12 in Healthy Building News

The credibility of the US chemical industry has taken a beating in the press this month. But instead of apologizing, pledging to reform its ways, or disciplining a "few bad apples," for being caught lying red handed, the industry has doubled down and launched an all out attack on the US Green Building Council.[1] The focus of the attack - modest amendments to the LEED Rating System, two voluntary credits that address the presence of endocrine-disrupting chemicals and other toxins in LEED-rated buildings.

To recap, during the week of May 6th, the Chicago Tribune published a four-part series documenting the collusion between US chemical companies and Big Tobacco...

Originally published in GreenSpec Insights

When building products carry different green certifications, how do you know which product is best? Maybe there is a way to compare apples and oranges.

As green certifications and labels have proliferated, so has greenwash. Even among legitimate certifications, conflicts and inconsistency have made them hard to understand.

How do you cut through the cacophony and get the information you want? The Pharos Project has independently organized information on about 48 major product certifications and products that carry those labels.

Start by finding products

If you want products certified to a...

published in Healthy Building News, 4/2/12

Mud season has just passed in Vermont. That is the time of year when our pastoral dirt roads, frozen since last November, begin to thaw, from the top down. The frozen underlayer traps the water above, creating mud. Deep, sticky, Prius-swallowing mud. To traverse our "dirt" roads in March you need the right equipment: a four-wheel drive vehicle and high rubber boots, just in case. Otherwise, you will get stuck, wreck your car, and probably your shoes too.

This year's annual slog got me thinking that as the long freeze on information about the ingredients in our building products lifts, we might face the paradox of a muddy road to transparency. Initially, it could be tough going for those who are not prepared for the disruptive impact this newly disclosed information will have on the...

EPA Actions Offer More Support for LEED 2012 Approach to Chemicals of Concern: Comment Period Ends 3/20/12

Two actions from the US EPA last month reaffirm the serious and unique negative health impacts of the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic lifecycle. For the green building community, the Agency's latest evaluations of PVC and dioxin affirm both the US Green Building Council's 2007 conclusion that PVC is not a healthy building material, and lend further support for a proposed LEED credit that would reward the avoidance of chemicals of concern, including halogenated plastics. It is clearer than ever why halogenated plastics such as PVC should be avoided in green buildings, and we urge your support for the draft "Chemicals of Concern" credit in LEED 2012. [You can read my colleague Tom Lent's comments on LEED 2012 and add your own here in ...

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