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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  • 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

  • The Many Faces of Reclaimed Wood

    Primer

    Some types of reclaimed wood count as "salvaged materials" that contribute to points in LEED and help comply with green building codes while others do not.

  • Forest Products Certification: How It Works

    Primer

    Many wood and paper products now come with an eco-label. But what happens behind the scenes before a product gets the seal of approval?

  • Life-Cycle Assessment: Tracing a Product's Impacts

    Primer

    Life-cycle assessment-accounting for all of the environmental impacts of a product from its manufacture to its disposal-is a simple concept, but using it to compare products in practice can be difficult.

  • Drywall Options: Paper-Faced, Monolithic, or Fiberglass-Faced?

    Primer

    Drywall types differ in cost, recyclability, and response to moisture and mold.