The Signal: News and Notes from the Pharos Team

Will the USGBC’s new draft credits to avoid chemicals of concern in building materials “significantly undermine the goal of improving energy efficiency, and ultimately undermine our economy”? So said the American Chemistry Council this week in one of the more impressive pieces of bombast yet produced in their war in the halls of Congress to get the US government to stop using the LEED system. We are scratching our heads here at HBN trying to imagine how an optional credit that rewards removing a handful of chemicals (14 to be exact) that have already been designated for phase out in the entire European Union from just a small percentage of building materials in a project (just 20%) could undermine the US economy.

The ACC’s argument is that LEED...

By popular request, our recent webinars introducing the new Pharos Project are now available for watching online. The webinars provide guidance on finding healthy building materials and detail the Pharos Project research and data gathering process.  These recordings have been uploaded to Vimeo and are now posted on our Webinars and Tutorials page.

What's posted:


Researching products for Pharos is a privileged if at times depressing position.  I learn how materials are made, and then I help to alert people to potential hazards about products they are considering buying. This knowledge comes in handy when I am doing my own shopping.

Last weekend, I opened my wife Eliza’s family camp in the Adirondacks.  I noticed that the kitchen dish rack was deteriorating to the point that granular resins were rubbing off the surface. It was the end of that product’s service life.

When I went in search of a replacement, my inside knowledge kicked in.  In Pharos, ingredients that trigger a purple flag in the Chemical and Material Library really get noticed.  These chemicals devastate a product’s evaluation in Pharos.

One product type where we regularly encounter a purple flag chemical is acrylic paints.  Some acrylic paints...

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...

In order for Pharos to provide users with the tools they need for material selection, our building product evaluations must be thorough and scorable.

Scorability means that we have determined there is enough information about the product’s composition to provide a solid evaluation of potential user exposures and manufacturing processes.

Ideally, the product’s manufacturer accomplishes scorability through complete material content disclosure.   But many companies fail to do this: neither in Pharos, nor in public documents like material safety data sheets.

Pharos fills the information gap with original research.  In depth research is our not-so-secret sauce for creating evaluations that meet stringent quality standards and user demand for identifying hazards.

Learn more about our leading-edge data collection methods at a webinar next Wednesday, May 23, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. (EDT).

We will show...

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