Greenbuild 2011: The End of Don't Tell, Don't Ask

Bill Walsh - October 4, 2011

Everyone knows that evaluating the environmental and health impacts of building products is not simple. People often ask: What's the most difficult part? That's easy - what's most difficult is evaluating information that we don't have. Building products - unlike say, food products - are not required to disclose ingredients on the package. And, green building professionals rarely ask about ingredients, relying instead on a confusing array of product certifications to guide their decision-making. Don't Tell, Don't Ask.

At Greenbuild 2011 there will be more information coming out about building products than ever before, as the Don't Tell, Don't Ask era gives way to a new culture of transparency and disclosure. The Healthy Building Network (HBN) is proud to be in the vanguard of this transformation with new tools and initiatives for industry leaders.

Pharos Project v2

In the exhibition hall, at booth 5042S, HBN will be introducing Version 2 (v2) of our Pharos Project. Forward-leaning manufacturers provide unprecedented levels of disclosure and transparency for a growing list of over 750 products in 10 categories. Pharos v2's new features will streamline your firm's communication of product specifications to clients, colleagues, and other members of your project teams. Pharos users can now create product lists, save searches, and use tags to share data and preferences within a company or in collaboration with other subscribers on a project team. Pharos v2 will help eliminate redundant research; make it easier to identify multiple qualifying products; and increase your control over substitutions throughout the construction schedule.

Health Product Declaration Open Standard

The Materials Research Collaborative, a joint initiative of HBN and BuildingGreen, engaged sustainable design leaders from over 20 organizations to draft a Health Product Declaration (HPD) Open Standard, a voluntary, open standard for the communication of product content and associated health information for building products. Establishing protocols for reporting this information in a consistent manner will help building professionals quickly and easily find the information they need. It will help manufacturers by standardizing the information they need to provide to answer the increasing number of inquiries on these issues. It will also facilitate the integration of building product data into certification programs, product databases and design software.

The draft HPD will be introduced at a forum co-sponsored by the American Society of Interior Designers Foundation, Interior Designers at the Forefront: Healthy Products & Healthy Building, Tuesday, October 4th in the Nova Scotia Room at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel at 3PM.

Education Session

At an education session entitled Getting the Toxics Out: LEEDing the Way to Safer Materials, session PL-10, Room 210, Thursday October 6 at 4PM, HBN's Policy Director, Tom Lent, will elaborate on toxic red lists, how tools such as the HPD are being aligned to help you address health with greater transparency and disclosure in LEED, and frameworks that we can use to move toward inherently safer chemistry in products.

Exhibition Hall - HBN/Pharos Project Booth

At the HBN/Pharos Project booth, Senior Researcher, Jim Vallette, and Data Systems Project Leader, Melissa Coffin, will be available to meet with manufacturers who are interested in learning more about what the Pharos system has to offer.

Have any questions? Just ask. And please, do tell!


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For more news and analysis from HBN's research team, visit our companion blog at the Pharos Project:

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