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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  • Cool Products from the Latest Greenbuild Expo

    Feature Article

    We scoured the Greenbuild expo floor for the best new products and the most interesting updates. Then we whittled it down to these standouts.

  • Cladding: More Than Just a Pretty Façade

    Feature Article

    Cladding materials should be chosen to minimize environmental impacts and help maximize a building’s energy performance.

  • 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.

  • Are Cool Roofs Green? The Answer’s Not Black and White

    Feature Article

    Roofing choices are complicated by heating tradeoffs, climate effects, and condensation, but proponents say reflective roofs still make sense in most climates.

  • Can Concrete Save Us? Locking Up Carbon in Building Materials

    Feature Article

    Concrete is responsible for a huge proportion of global carbon dioxide emissions. A few companies want to reverse this cycle by sequestering carbon in building materials.

  • 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.

  • Finding Products for LEED v4-A Guide

    Feature Article

    That complicated new Materials and Resources section of LEED v4 that we debated for years? It's here. Are you ready?

  • Engineering a Wood Revolution

    Feature Article

    Engineered wood products are challenging concrete and steel in structural applications while proffering a lower environmental footprint.

  • 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.