Material Selection

Photo: Dan Brady. License: CC BY 2.0.

OVERVIEW

Materials really do matter to the health of occupants and the environment, but finding out what is in a product—and why—is not easy.

Products also have to perform as intended, so there are often tradeoffs between performance and the most sustainable materials.

Here you will find articles on:

  • the least hazardous, most environmentally sustainable materials used in products

  • environmental product declarations that can reveal the life-cycle impacts of materials

  • standards and third-party certifications that provide important VOC criteria and other health and performance metrics

  • chemicals of concern in building materials

You’ll also learn how what makes a product green can differ from product category to product category, and why multi-attribute vetting is critical no matter what product or material you’re selecting or specifying.

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  • Materials Transparency & LEED

    Webcast

    This deep dive into the three Building Product Disclosure and Optimization (BPDO) credits in LEED v4 provides the rationale for why product choices are so important, the details on how to achieve points within the three credits, and which options you shouldn't bother pursuing.

  • The Questionable Science Behind VOC Emissions Testing

    Feature Short

    We need the protection that product VOC testing provides, but it’s far from the last word on human health in buildings.

  • VOCs in LEED v4 and Other Rating Systems

    Feature Short

    Most building certifications encourage low-emitting and low-VOC products, but they all do it differently. Here’s how it all fits together.

  • How to Get from VOC Certifications to Better Products

    Feature Short

    The FDA regulates flies in our soup, but no one regulates VOCs in our indoor air. Somehow that’s a designer’s job to figure out. 

  • Why “Zero VOC” Was Never Enough

    Feature Short

    We used to look for coatings, adhesives, and sealants that contained no VOCs. Great for smog prevention, but IAQ and installer health are also important.

  • Wood, Concrete, and Steel—And Their Incomparable EPDs

    Feature Short

    Don’t expect the turf battles over sustainability of structural systems to be settled anytime soon by EPDs.

  • Deep Material Vetting (That Won’t Chew Through Your Design Budget)

    Webcast

    In just one hour, learn how to vet products and materials (without having to earn chemistry and toxicology degrees!). Includes special access to a forum offering post-webcast product vetting support.

  • The PVC Debate

    Webcast

    If, like a lot of people, your head has been spinning over the last decade as PVC has been debated to point where clarity is hard to find, we'll review the key context that underlies this whole debate—and where facts and opinions diverge.

  • Toxic Chemicals in Buildings: How to Find & Avoid the Worst Offenders

    Webcast

    As a building professional, your clients look to you to help them make solid, science-based decisions about even more complex products and materials. Decisions about a school, a multifamily building, or a commercial office space can affect a lot of people. Do you have enough information to answer the questions of concerned clients? There are no easy answers to any of these questions, but we do know how to identify and eliminate some of the worst hazards from our buildings. In the webcast, we'll take a look at some successful strategies.

  • Spec This, Not That: The GreenSpec Guide to 11 Key Product Sectors

    Webcast