Material Health

Pursuing material health in the building industry involves avoiding or eliminating toxic chemicals from building products. Toxic chemicals are those that can bring harm to factory workers, installers, or building occupants. There are tens of thousands of unregulated chemicals used in our building products, and they can increase the risk of everything from asthma to obesity to cancer.

Materials containing these toxic chemicals include carpet, insulation, wet-applied products like adhesives and sealants, and many others. It’s possible to improve material health through better design decisions and product selections.

Material Health

Deep Dives

Get up to speed on complex topics. You can also earn CEUs and download PDF Spotlight Reports.


    Loading...
  • Behind the Logos: Understanding Green Product Certifications

    Feature Article

    The number of environmental product standards and certifications is growing rapidly, putting numerous different "green" logos on products. This article reviews the key programs and evaluates their rigor, and offers guidance in using them to accomplish project goals.

  • The PVC Debate: A Fresh Look

    Feature Article

    PVC is banned by some green building programs and simply reviled by some groups. How did we get here, and has anything changed since vinyl became the enemy?

  • Innovative Products and Technology from the Greenbuild Expo

    Feature Article

    Our product editors pick some winners from the expo floor at Greenbuild 2013 while raising questions about some materials.

  • Can We Replace Foam Insulation?

    Feature Article

    There are a lot of reasons to avoid foam, but its high performance can make it a hard habit to kick, as designers are finding out.

Quick Takes

Jump straight to the essentials with these short explanations of green building concepts.


Product Guidance

Unbiased information from our product experts helps you separate green from greenwash.


In The News

We break news down to the essentials and provide expert analysis.


Perspective

Thought-provoking opinions from the most trusted minds in sustainability.


    Loading...
  • Polystyrene's Track Record

    Op-Ed

    Steve Russell, of the American Chemistry Council, suggests that the hazards associated with polystyrene are being overblown.

  • Watch for Other Toxics

    Op-Ed

    Two architects argue that some of the alternatives to polystyrene, such as polyurethane, come with their own hazards.

  • HBCD Isn't the Only Problem

    Op-Ed

    Tom Lent argues that we should be looking beyond HBCD when thinking about toxic chemicals.

  • Polystyrene Chemicals Widespread

    Op-Ed

    Polystyrene chemicals may be more widespread than most people think.

Learning Resources

Syllabus supplements and CEU content, with automatic reporting for AIA and GBCI.


  • Check if your spelling is correct, or try removing filters.
  • Remove quotes around phrases to match each word individually: "blue drop" will match less than blue drop.
  • You can require or exclude terms using + and -: big +blue drop will require a match on blue while big blue -drop will exclude results that contain drop.

Just For Fun

Something weird happens every April at BuildingGreen...


  • Check if your spelling is correct, or try removing filters.
  • Remove quotes around phrases to match each word individually: "blue drop" will match less than blue drop.
  • You can require or exclude terms using + and -: big +blue drop will require a match on blue while big blue -drop will exclude results that contain drop.