G is for Green: Google Develops Innovative Healthy Building Database

As a multi-billion dollar company with 70 offices in 40 countries, Google has a large global economic footprint and the power to shape market trends. It is this position that they are leveraging in their new efforts to promote healthy architecture and a greener building industry. Together with the Healthy Building Network (HBN), Google developed Portico, a searchable, ever evolving decision making tool and interactive database of green materials and companies. They are looking to motivate companies to remove the “low hanging fruit” of hazardous chemicals, by emphasizing the possibility of replacing the ones that we know are harmful with existing, high performing safer alternatives.

According to HBN’s Lawrence Kilroy, this tool has the potential to transform the entire building industry by leveraging big data. "Portico is less about creating a 'product' rather than creating a solution and a campaign," he says. "We want Portico to be the virtual table everyone sits around to make products healthier . . . We're not aiming to solve everything, but create a model others can use. Hopefully this sets a template others can use to create tech in the [materials] space."

Healthy building supplies are important because the average American spends close to 90% of their time indoors where air is worse than outside. This poor air quality typically stems from the use of toxic building materials, finishes, and furniture. Replacing these health-harming materials with safer alternatives can lead to better indoor air quality and benefits such as better employee performance, improved sleep, and better health outcomes.

Healthcare institutions who are interested in shifting towards greener furnishings purchases can learn more from the Healthier Hospitals Healthy Interiors Goal.

[Source: Fast Company]