Healthy Building Network and Google Announce Portico, a First-of-Its-Kind Building Materials Analysis and Decision-making Tool

Larry Kilroy | October 05, 2016 | Tools

This blog post includes information about Portico, an application HBN sunset in May of 2019. Please use it for historical reference and the other useful information it contains.

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Healthy Building Network and Google Announce Portico, First-of-Its-Kind Building Materials Analysis and Decision-making Tool

Los Angeles, CA (October 5, 2016) - Building Industry Leaders Perkins + Will, Georgia Institute of Technology, The Durst Organization, Harvard University, and HomeFree Affordable Housing Cohort Join As Founding Partners

Healthy Building Network, the green building movement’s leader in health and transparency, and Google today announced Portico, a web based application designed to simplify the analysis, selection and specification of building products that meet health and transparency objectives. Portico offers a unique service that allows the key participants in a building project such as owners, architects, contractors and manufacturers to collaborate, research and make actionable decisions on healthy building materials.

“For the past 15 years Healthy Building Network has been a leader in creating the tools and championing the policies that make health and well-being a top priority in the building industry,” said Bill Walsh, Founder and President of the Board of Healthy Building Network.  “We have had great success in collaborating with Google on Portico for the last two years and today we are excited to count industry leaders Perkins+Will, Durst, Harvard, and affordable housing innovators among our partners in the effort to create healthy built environments.”  

“We are especially thrilled to include our HomeFree affordable housing leaders as part of our founding members.  Often sustainability efforts are out of reach for low-and middle-income populations due to cost premiums.  Portico is a tool that will ensure that everyone has access to healthy materials,” says Gina Ciganik, Chief Executive Officer of Healthy Building Network.  HomeFree is a nationwide healthy, affordable materials program created by Healthy Building Network with support from The JPB Foundation.

“Google has long sought a means to bring our values and commitment to healthy buildings to life, and Portico provides us with the platform  to do so,” said Anthony Ravitz of Google Real Estate Workplace Services. “It provides actionable data that prioritizes health outcomes based on rigorous standards and integrated criteria, enabling real time decisions within the cost and schedule constraints of a design and construction project.”

Portico was developed by the Healthy Building Network team led by Chief Technology Officer Larry Kilroy, in collaboration with Google, to advance healthy materials use, accelerate access to high-quality and comparable data, and seamlessly connect supply with demand.  Since 2015, Google has been using Portico to identify the healthiest products for its worldwide buildings, communicate Google priorities and inform product decisions that meets the healthy materials criteria and product scoring based on reliable and transparent manufacturer supplied data. 

Unlike other product databases, Portico is designed to integrate with a typical design and construction delivery process. It connects data with project workflow and has three main functions which are performed in the app: project management, product research and product information requests.  Users can manage a building project by defining criteria, setting goals and tracking progress.  The product library is continually growing, and today has more than 2,500 products.   Products are assessed against more than 40,000 chemical hazards sourced from Healthy Building Network’s Pharos Project, allowing users to search and compare materials for health and environmental hazard screening and certification information.  Lastly, Portico connects manufacturers and their supply chain to their users, providing a direct communications channel to request and provide more detailed information about specific products, streamlining the communications process and saving time and money in the process.

In the coming weeks, Healthy Building Network will open the Portico Early Access Program to additional partners.  If your company would like to be considered, please find more information at  

“At Perkins+Will, creating places that promote and nurture health has long been part of our ethos,” said Phil Harrison, Chief Executive Officer of Perkins+Will.  “To that end, transparency into what’s in our building products and materials is critical. It’s why we spearheaded the development of the Perkins+Will Precautionary List in 2008, and shortly thereafter, our Transparency website. Today, we’re proud to be among the founding partners of Portico. We look forward to working with HBN, Google, and others to ensure that safe, healthy, high-performing products are both manufactured and used in place-making projects around the world.”

“Portico is a tremendous asset for those seeking to improve transparency and understanding of the products and materials that make up the built environment,” said Alexander Durst, Chief Development Officer of The Durst Organization.  “It leverages the collective power of the owners, contractors, designers and architects to demand that manufacturers disclose vital data about their products and the process of how they are made.  In addition, Portico strengthens the marketplace by fostering competition and aggregating information on healthier building products, allowing for more informed and better specification for bidding and negotiations.”

"As the first founding partner from the higher education community, Harvard is excited to use and contribute to Portico for the advancement of healthy materials at universities, companies and everywhere,” said Heather Henriksen, Director of the Harvard Office for Sustainability (OFS). “We’re also excited to connect this work with our primary mission through a unique collaboration between OFS and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health's Center for Health and the Global Environment with HBN and Google that will foster opportunities for our faculty and students to use the rich data available to generate new research and support existing initiatives on healthy buildings that are already underway at Harvard."

"HPD Collaborative is delighted to work with the Healthy Building Network, Google and other leaders in this important initiative,” said Wendy Vittori, Health Product Declaration® Collaborative Executive Director. “Increasing the tools available for using the data reported in HPDs is a critical next step in evolving practice in healthy materials." 

“Portico streamlines the evaluation and specification of healthy materials for users and encourages manufacturers to optimize their product chemistry,” said Stacy Glass, Vice President, Built Environment, Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.  “Unlike any other tool in the marketplace, Portico clearly outlines the journey for manufacturers with five key steps to material health: inventory, screening, assessment, optimization, and transparency while the criteria and scoring system helps to recognize progress along the path. With products that have achieved C2C Material Health attribute being recognized for optimization in Portico, we expect Portico to continue to play an instrumental role in driving more demand for certified products that users can easily select and more manufacturers optimizing to make progress toward this rigorous standard.”

“Portico has potential to leverage technology and the network effect to dramatically scale the size and number of projects able to meet the Living Building Challenge Materials Petal,” said James Connelly, Director, Living Product Challenge, International Living Future Institute. “We are also thrilled to be aligning the Red List, Declare and the Living Product Challenge with Portico's Healthy Materials criteria in order to transform the materials industry.”

About Portico

Portico is a building materials evaluation web application service developed by Healthy Building Network that integrates project management functions and growing database of over 2,500 building materials and products evaluated using Pharos Chemical Hazard database and scored based on material health and transparency criteria. It is a proprietary project of Healthy Building Network and was created in partnership with Google.  To learn more please visit

About the Founding Partners

Perkins+Will is an interdisciplinary, research-based architecture and design firm established in 1935.  Founded on the belief that design has the power to transform lives and enhance communities, we collaborate with clients all over the world to create healthy, sustainable places in which to live, learn, work, play, and heal. More than 2,000 professionals across over 20 Perkins+Will offices include some of the brightest minds in architecture, interior design, branded environments, urban design, and landscape architecture. Clients consistently turn to us for our leadership and expertise in areas like sustainability, resilience, health and wellness, and mobility. Additionally, our 10 Research Labs catalyze innovative design technologies and solutions that result in better, smarter, more competitive built environments. The recipient of hundreds of design awards each year, and a progressive leader in corporate social responsibility, Perkins+Will is consistently ranked among the world’s top design firms. Our family of partner companies includes retail strategy and design consultancy Portland; transportation planning consultancy Nelson\Nygaard; healthcare technology planning firm Genesis; and luxury hospitality design firm Pierre-Yves Rochon (PYR). For more information, visit

The Durst Organization, founded in 1915 by Joseph Durst, is the owner, manager and builder of 13 million square feet of premiere Manhattan office towers and 1,950 residential rental units with 2,400 in development. The Durst Organization is recognized as a world leader in the development of high-performance and environmentally advanced commercial and residential buildings.

Harvard University is devoted to excellence in teaching, learning, and research, and to developing leaders in many disciplines making differences globally. While Harvard’s primary role is to address global challenges through research and teaching, the University is also focused on translating research into action on its campus by modeling the pathway to a healthier, more resilient future. A University-wide Sustainability Plan set goals and priorities for enhancing the well-being of the campus community and includes green building standard, and healthy building materials and design commitments. The Harvard Office for Sustainability leads implementation of the Plan across Harvard’s 13 Schools and dozens of operational departments, and is partnering with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Health and the Global Environment on a multi-year collaboration to use the campus to inform ongoing research and put research findings into operation action in support of healthier, more active indoor environments.  

HomeFree is a Healthy Building Network-led national initiative supporting affordable housing leaders who are improving human health by using less toxic building materials. HomeFree currently includes an online resource providing critical information to the affordable housing community, as well as six Communities of Practice, spotlighting on-the-ground demonstration projects across the country.  For more information please visit