Material Selection

Photo: Dan Brady. License: CC BY 2.0

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.

Material Selection

Deep Dives

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  • Wood: What’s Good?

    Feature Article

    Mass timber seems alluring because of its low carbon footprint, but not all wood is equally sustainable. We dig deep into the controversy over which types of timber are “climate smart.

  • Finding Products for LEED v4 and v4.1

    Feature Article

     Finding and managing product information for LEED has changed—and v4.1 has added even more to think about.

  • 20 Ways to Advance Sustainability in the Next Four Years

    Feature Article

    In this age of political revolution and environmental urgency, it’s time to step back and take a look at priorities, challenges, and opportunities

  • VOCs: Why They’re Still Here and What You Can Do About It

    Feature Article

    “Sick building syndrome” was one of the first problems the green building community tried to solve. We’ve come a long way, but we’re not done yet.

Quick Takes

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


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  • Building Product Disclosure & Optimization (BPDO) Cheat Sheet

    Infographic

    The three Building Product Disclosure and Optimization (BPDO) credits in LEED v4 are pushing the industry into new territory. Suppliers have made significant progress on materials transparency and optimization since the release of version 4, but not enough to make all the points realistically achievable. With version 4.1, LEED has modified thresholds and simplified requirements so that all six points should be within reach for most projects.

  • What These Forestry Labels Really Mean

    Infographic

    You’ve seen FSC and SFI labels on wood products. Most often, you’ve seen no label at all. Here’s a green guide to each one.

  • The 8 Shades of Greenwash: How Many Do You Recognize?

    Infographic

    Most building products these days have an environmental angle to their sales pitches. Many are legit, but as ever, you still have to watch for the telltale signs of greenwash—the practice of inventing or exaggerating the environmental benefits of a product.

  • VOC Testing: What It Can and Can’t Tell You

    Primer

    “Section 01350” has come a long way since it acquired its curious nickname. Here’s what it can tell you about indoor air quality—and what it can’t.

Product Guidance

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