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Blogs

Take an inside look into emerging markets and trends. Gain valuable new perspectives from HBN experts and our partners. Be inspired to know better.

Buyers Beware: Coal Ash In Building Products

James Vallette | January 30, 2014 | Materials

Shortly after HBN published this newsletter, the US EPA released a new report, Coal Combustion Residual Beneficial Use Evaluation: Fly Ash Concrete and FGD Gypsum Wallboard (February 2014). Click here to read Jim Vallette's analysis of this document. News reports this week are citing two new EPA-funded studies of coal ash as conclusive proof th...


FDA Acts On Antimicrobials

Bill Walsh | January 08, 2014 | Materials

In case you missed it, just before Christmas, the US Food and Drug Administration proposed a new regulation that calls into question the growing use of antimicrobial chemicals used in a wide array of products, including building materials.[1] HBN has reported since 2010 on how the safety and the efficacy of adding antimicrobials to everyday product...


Looking Forward to 2014: Growing the Built Environment

Sarah Lott | January 06, 2014 | Materials

Thinking back on this last year we added a lot of new products to Pharos (approximately 400!).  As I think about all of the new products and different types of materials we might add to Pharos in 2014, an exciting and innovative new building material comes to mind: mycelium. Mycelium is the root-like part of a mushroom or other fungi which...


HBN Report: A Strategy to Prevent Asthma Through Building Product Selection

Bill Walsh | December 12, 2013 | Materials

A new HBN Report, Full Disclosure Required: A Strategy to Prevent Asthma Through Building Product Selection, provides information on how we can, through the careful selection of building materials and furnishings, reduce and even avoid exposures to certain chemicals that can lead to the onset of asthma. This is the first report to cross-reference a...


Sacred Space in Houston

Bill Walsh | November 26, 2013 | Materials

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to visit the first Living Building Challenge (LBC) project in Houston, TX, and that is not its most compelling distinction.  The 1,120 square foot stand-alone art building at the Monarch School is maximizing the use of reclaimed materials, and minimizing the use of hazardous “red list” subs...


Hungry Building Products?

Melissa Coffin | October 25, 2013 | Materials

A few months back we took a look  at so-called “self-cleaning” products: products that manufacturers promise will deliver air-purifying capabilities in addition to their primary function in construction.  We initially focused on products using the photocatalysis of titanium dioxide to convert nitrogen oxide air pollutants in...


Self-Cleaning or Greenwashing? New Product Claims Raise Questions

Melissa Coffin | July 23, 2013 | Materials

Can building products make the environment cleaner and healthier? Has the first generation of "pollution-eating," "regenerative" materials arrived? A growing number of products are claiming to remove everything from VOCs from interior environments to auto-exhaust on highways. The apparent wizardry behind some of these product...


Self-Cleaning or Greenwashing? New Product Claims Raise Questions

Melissa Coffin | July 22, 2013 | Materials

Over the course of our work with manufacturers, the Pharos team often learns of creative and innovative new building products.   The latest: products that, in addition to performing their standard function in buildings, also claim the ability to actively improve the air quality where they are used and installed.  Do these products...


A closer look at the “cleaner” plastic

Meghan Lena | July 08, 2013 | Materials

In terms of toxic content, polyethylene is generally thought of as relatively benign compared to other plastics.

Polyethylene materials require little maintenance, are resistant to moisture and insects, and can be quite durable.  Add to that the fact that these polymers have significantly higher recycling rates than other plastics, and you...