Google’s Healthy Materials Program was created to identify the healthiest products and materials
for every Google building around the world. Portico, Google’s Healthy Materials tool, was created to to help with this effort. The tool is designed to gather product specific information from manufacturers and associated supply chains, using recognized industry standards and to make this information available for Google project teams. Architects and contractors can request product information and select and specify products that meet or exceed Google’s criteria to use on Google building projects. With built-in project management capabilities such as tracking product status, requests for manufacturers and measuring compliance against Google healthy material requirements for project teams, Portico enables manufacturers and project teams to collaborate with each other directly and deliver healthy and high performing buildings at scale.
The Quartz project is an open database that brings together data on the impacts of building materials on both human health and environmental sustainability. Using a consistent and transparent methodology, the database includes product composition, environment, and health hazard information on 100 of the most common building products. The database is intended to create a baseline and use this is as a starting point for understanding the environmental and human health impacts in order to make appropriate decisions in the early stages of a design and construction project. With this data and the research methodology being freely accessible, the goal is to make this data available for anyone to use, duplicate, and modify without any restrictions. Research organizations, tool providers, software developers, consultants, building owners, manufacturers and architects can extend or incorporate it into their projects and tools in the way that makes the most sense for them. Google was involved in the effort as a collaborative partner with Flux, Thinkstep and Healthy Building Network and supported the research of the common products.
As an illustration of how each of these tools might be used, let’s say a new building is in design from the ground up and the project team is evaluating envelope system options for the building facade. Since the design is still in the conceptual stage and is evolving, this is too early in the process to define the specific products that would work. However, the team wants to make sure that the design decisions take into consideration both the human health and environmental impacts. In this situation, the data available through project Quartz may be used to compare, for example, a curtain wall and a storefront system to arrive at the best solution. Once the project design has been fully developed and it’s time to finalize the specific product solution, the architect/ design team may then use Portico to evaluate the product information, if it already exists, or request information from the product manufacturer. In doing so, the project team can select the best product within Portico for use on the Google project.
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