Pharos Project – Looking forward to Pharos 1.0 in early 2008!

3 01 2008

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What’s an architect to do? There are so many claims of green materials out there and so little time to properly evaluate every aspect of every new product.

Pharos Project is a really ambitious project launched by the Healthy Building Network.

It’s an elegant multi-dimensional rating system for building materials which evaluates products for their resource use along with health and pollution factors incurred over the life cycle of the product. In addition, this system also takes into account the more difficult to quantify social factors listing criteria based on health and safety of workers and consumers and corporate social responsibility. In each of the 3 categories: Environment-Resource, Social-Community and Health-Pollution ideal goals are established and then each product is evaluated in relation to those ideals.

There are several things I like about this project, the first of which is the beautiful icon that indicates a project’s “green-ness” which, if this system becomes widespread, will hopefully make greenwashing much more difficult.

It’s one of the few undertakings I have seen recently that combines optimism, elegance and transparency. Of it’s 10 guiding principles, which you can download here, my favorite is:

“Define the Ideal – It is an act of optimism to set
an ideal goal representing how we believe our
products can be good for the world, rather than
just issue prohibitions and seek the less-bad.”

All of the content about the products will be collected via Wiki open source software. It’s explained very clearly on their FAQ page (but which is a little hard to find on the pharosproject site).

I checked out this system when I first heard about it on Inhabitat back in November but the only materials I could find listed were carpets and flooring. Since then, they have closed down the Beta project and plan to re-launch Pharos 1.0 in early 2008.

I eagerly await the re-launch and hope it succeeds.

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