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

Pharos finds plenty of unanswered questions in fluid applied flooring industry

Sarah Lott | June 21, 2013 | Materials

This week Pharos opened its newest category of product evaluations: fluid applied flooring (FAF).  This is a type of high performance coating used in areas where easy cleaning is essential. Fluid-applied flooring systems are most commonly applied to restrooms, janitor rooms, locker rooms, restaurants, day care centers, and laboratories. Usua...


From Green to Homeless: One Man’s Battles with SPF Insulation

James Vallette | June 20, 2013 | Materials

Richard Beyer of East Lyme, Connecticut, provides a great example of how one person can change the building industry (with a little help from the Pharos Project). After a bad spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation installation sickened him and his family, Mr. Beyer researched these products on Pharos. As we have been reporting in the...


Bio-based plastics: Steps towards a sustainable industry

Sarah Lott | May 06, 2013 | Materials

As an undergraduate, I became increasingly interested in the environmental issues surrounding the modern agriculture system – a system dominated by mono-cropping of cereal crops (namely corn) that require heavy inputs of chemicals and water. The overproduction of cereal and sugar crops has led to their use beyond the food industry to fuel...


Where the Rubber Meets the Road in Building Products

James Vallette | April 24, 2013 | Materials

The benefits of recycling old tires are obvious. It saves energy. It avoids new or additional toxic manufacturing inputs. Recycling also forestalls landfilling tire waste. Tire dumps pollute groundwater and can catch fire and smolder for months or even years.

But there is a flip side to this equation that has, to date, been poorly considered: ti...


Toxic truths in my island’s air

James Vallette | March 26, 2013 | Materials

One of my favorite snowshoeing routes here in Acadia National Park passes a weather station on McFarland Hill.  I have always loved tracking the weather, so of course it is fun to look at the equipment.

Over the years, watching the weather has become a grimmer hobby, as our shoreline gets chewed away by storms of increasing intensity, the...


Market transformation as seen, and acted upon, by a manufacturer

James Vallette | March 22, 2013 | Materials

This week, Pharos opened its latest category of product evaluations: wall protection.  These products, generally used in interior high traffic areas to protect corners, walls, and doors, are a microcosm of the wider building materials marketplace. Manufacturers are shifting away from problematic plastics, like PVC, and are finding themselves...


Pharos research path leads to most polluting facility in country: US Magnesium

James Vallette | March 15, 2013 | Materials

Flying over the Great Salt Lake, en route to last year’s Greenbuild, I spied a massive industrial facility above the lake’s southern flank. It was a surreal mix of briny discharge ponds and bronze stacks of smoke and slag.  Of course, I wondered what this was. This week, I came upon this plant again, in the normal course of doi...


Removing Arsenic from Building Materials: A Success Story

Bill Walsh | March 12, 2013 | Materials

March 17th marks the 10th anniversary of the EPA order that made it illegal to use the arsenic-based pesticide CCA (chromated copper arsenate) to treat wood intended for most residential uses, including wood destined for decks, picnic tables, landscaping timbers, gazebos, residential fencing, patios, walkways and play structures. This is also a hap...


Air Pollution Control Boosts Mercury Levels in Coal Ash

James Vallette | March 01, 2013 | Materials

In previous Pharos Signal articles and Healthy Building Network newsletters, we have examined the use of coal power plant waste in building materials.  Over the past dozen years, fly ash became a low-cost way for building product manufacturers to incorporate LEED recycled content credit-friendly filler in a range of materials, like carpet ba...


Building Interiors an Important Source of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals to Children

James Vallette | February 25, 2013 | Materials

An exhaustive study by the World Health Organization / United Nations Environment Programme fingers building materials as major sources of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), and calls for the disclosure of chemical contents in products: “(O)ver the past decade it has become clear that humans, in particular small children, are… expo...