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Pharos Project Recognized for Taking Green Labeling to New Heights

2009 July 30

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I’m always on the lookout for healthy and green products, but it’s tough to get unbiased information on a product’s real impacts. Now that green is hot, greenwashing – the deceptive use of green marketing – is definitely on the rise.

EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region selected the Pharos Project from the Healthy Building Network as an environmental award winner.  Their mission is to transform the market for building materials – more than three billion tons per year – to advance best environmental, health and social practices. In 2008, Pharos — a revolutionary on-line tool for evaluating and comparing the impacts of building materials in a comprehensive and transparent way — was developed.

The Pharos Project is re-defining green labeling practices to develop a consumer-driven vision of truly green materials using a 16-attribute visual lens and label. This offers more information than any other green label on the market, including the ability to compare actual ingredients. Together, the lens and label will allow the public and the building community to buy products with the attributes most important to them.

The Healthy Building Network has also worked to –

As I look through the Pharos lens, everything seems important, but I’d have to say that my Pharos-pie-piece priorities are High Hazard Toxics, Indoor Air Quality, Global Warming, Fairness and Equity, Habitat, and Renewable Materials.
What are yours?

About the author: Timonie Hood has worked on EPA Region 9’s Resource Conservation Team for 10 years and is Co-Chair of EPA’s Green Building Workgroup.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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3 Responses leave one →
  1. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    July 30, 2009

    Pharos is a huge step forward in the area of building materials and supplies. Espcially important will be the limiting of water and energy in the life of products. Elimination of toxic chemicals and greenhouse gasses to the greatest degree possible will also be of great importance. It is a great program. The problem will be convincing builders and do-it-your selfers that environmentally and socially responsible building products are as good or better than the conventional kind. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  2. Tom Lent permalink
    August 4, 2009

    That’s right Michael. Water and energy are highly important issues and building materials consume a lot of both. It will be important for the building industry to do its part toward the big job we have ahead of us to deeply cut our greenhouse gas emissions. But the real sleeper issue is toxic chemicals.

    With striking parallels to the way we are loading the atmosphere with climate change gases much faster than the atmosphere can handle them, industry is generating an increasing number of persistent, bioaccumulative toxic chemicals (PBTs) that don’t break down rapidly in the environment, and concentrate as they move up the food chain and into our bodies. Dioxins from PVC manufacture, halogenated flame retardants, perfluorinated chemicals in our stain repellants and more. We’ve been developing new chemicals (some 80 to 100 thousand now) far faster than we can test and regulate them for their effects on cancer, development endocrine disruption and more.

    In the Pharos Project, we are developing tools to help you sort through the chemical soup created modern materials. Check out our report on flooring materials ( to get an idea of how we are uncovering and evaluating chemical hazards up and down the material life cycle. We’ll be back in this space later in the year with more news about Pharos.

  3. wayne shemwell permalink
    December 11, 2010

    This is a great move to help the consumer understand the importance of going green. With economy in the state we find it today we must push going green as much as possible

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