The Signal: News and Notes from the Pharos Team

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...

Does “the Most Handsome Guy” really oppose listing coal ash as a hazardous waste?  The Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) last week raised this question when it analyzed hundreds of Mandarin signatures to a pro-coal ash White House petition.

This story is tickling our collective fancies, like many crazy cross-linguistic mishaps. You know, like the Monty Python sketch about a bad English/Hungarian phrasebook, or these poorly translated signs.

“How few friends does toxic coal ash pollution have?,” asks EIP. “It has so few supporters to call on that when a coal industry-backed group, ‘Citizens for Recycling First,’ submitted a petition to the White House last...

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:

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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...

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