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.


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  • What's New in Multi-Attribute Environmental Certifications

    Feature Article

    The industry is increasingly recognizing the need for a more comprehensive review of green products. We don't have perfect programs yet, but we scrutinize the most prominent programs out there and highlight how they're useful.

  • Reducing Environmental Impacts of Cement and Concrete

    Feature Article

     This article explores the environmental footprint of portland cement production and future emissions regulations and looks at the issues surrounding its most common replacement, fly ash.

  • Chemistry for Designers: Understanding Hazards in Building Products

    Feature Article

    What's in our building materials? Are there chemicals we should be afraid of? Trying to get answers to these questions can be frustrating, but there are a number of good tools available.

  • Polystyrene Insulation: Does It Belong in a Green Building?

    Feature Article

    Polystyrene is widely used as a rigid insulation in North America, offering high insulation values, moisture resistance, strength, and affordability. But a flame retardant in the material, as well as its life-cycle impacts, raise questions about whether it should be used at all.

Quick Takes

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


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  • Building Products and Health: A Look at Risk vs. Hazard

    Primer

    Use of "hazard avoidance" versus "risk assessment" for understanding toxicity of building materials is hotly debated. Why, and is there a common-sense answer?

  • Obesogens-A Fatty Issue

    Primer

    A number of common chemicals are being found to influence the development of fat cells and contribute to obesity.

  • Nanomaterials: How Big a Concern?

    Primer

    Anytime the "nano" label is applied to a product or technology, it's worth getting clear about what it means.

  • Why's That on the Red List?

    Primer

    Ever wonder why copper and Neoprene are flagged in some green building red lists and rating systems? Although they aren't the worst offenders, they're flagged for a good reason.

Product Guidance

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In The News

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Perspective

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


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Learning Resources

A wide range of education options, with automatic reporting for AIA and GBCI.


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Just For Fun

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