The Pharos Project

Organization Name:
Healthy Building Network
City & State:
Describe your creative piece – what is it and what has it been used for, and why is it innovative?
The Pharos Project, at its core, is a campaign for transparency in the building materials market. What we are creating is the ultimate campaign tool: a tool for users to locate the best materials to meet their current needs and enduring values; a tool to help cut through the prolific greenwashing; a space where users can discuss what makes a product truly green; and, most importantly, a platform from which to show manufacturers what constitutes a market in support of the best environmental, health and social equity practices. Our creative piece is the Pharos Project website, which includes a building product library and chemical material library available to subscribers, as well as the Pharos blog, The Signal. We used Adobe Dreamweaver to build the site, and Illustrator and Photoshop for design.
What issue or problem were you working to address with this piece?
The scale of the building materials market is so large - more than three billion tons of materials per year - that its transformation to advance the best environmental, health and social practices could decrease, and even begin to reverse, some of the profound negative impacts of the contemporary building industry on the environment, human health and society. Many of the most toxic chemicals we know of today are used or created in the life cycle of common building materials, but current regulations allow manufacturers to keep simple information about a material's ingredients and potential hazards confidential, making it near impossible for consumers to understand the impacts of the materials they purchase. The issue is further confounded by the litany of existing standards, labels, and certifications that make green claims but fail to disclose their methods.
How has your submission successfully impacted your organization’s ability to solve this issue/problem?
The Pharos Project provides an online tool for professionals who specify and buy building products to assess the impact of those products across multiple environmental, health and social attributes. Launched in November of 2009, the project has attracted architects, designers, green building professionals, individual homeowners, and others who are comparing products and learning about the hazards of their chemical ingredients. Already, we are seeing examples of manufacturers disclosing previously confidential information at the request of Pharos subscribers and researchers. The campaign for transparency is gaining momentum, and we believe that with the right information at their fingertips, users will demand building materials that are healthy and safe for people and the planet.
Creative Submission - URL