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.

  • Certified Wood Credit in LEED Gets Makeover
    August 28, 2008

    News Analysis

    After more than two years of work, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has proposed a major change for certified wood in its LEED Rating System.

  • Canadian Timber Companies in Landmark Environmental Deal
    June 29, 2010

    News Analysis

    Twenty-one Canadian forest companies and nine environmental organizations have signed the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, creating a three-year plan for sustainable forest management. The plan will protect the habitat of many species by halting the logging of 29 million of the 72 million hectares included. The agreement is effective immediately with goals set at 6 and 18 months.

  • Waiting for Take-Back Programs for Building Materials
    November 1, 2013

    News Analysis

    LEED now gives credit for products with extended producer responsibility, or EPR programs, but so far these rarely extend beyond batteries and carpet.

  • Plum Creek SFI Certification, Audit Process Challenged in Oregon
    March 3, 2015

    News Analysis

    An Oregon nonprofit is seeking to suspend Plum Creek’s SFI certificate in Oregon due to legal violations. The company says it has already addressed the issues.

  • Triton Logging Recovers Underwater Forests
    July 9, 2006

    Product Review

    Triton Logging, Inc., of British Columbia has brought to market environmentally-friendly lumber from forests flooded by reservoirs; standing trees are recovered using the company's unique Sawfish submarine harvester.

  • Nail Kicker Aids Wood Reuse
    August 29, 2006

    Product Review

    A pneumatic tool that aids salvage and reuse of wood, the Nail Kicker has recently been reissued.

  • Unique American Teak Offers FSC-Certified Flooring
    September 28, 2006

    Product Review

    A new supplier is offering prefinished teak flooring from Costa Rica certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

  • 180 Walls Sets New Standard for Green Wallcovering
    January 2, 2007

    Product Review

    A woven polyester wallcovering from Milliken, 180 Walls is cost-competitive with vinyl wallcoverings and offers a number of environmental benefits that are backed up by third-party certifications.

  • Decorative Ceiling Panel Uses Recycled Content
    March 1, 2008

    Product Review

    Chicago Metallic has introduced Monarch GE, a decorative ceiling panel system using gypsum and 70% recycled content from glass.

  • Nexterra NSF-140-Certified Commercial Carpet Tiles
    April 29, 2009

    Product Review

    Bolyu and Cambridge carpet tiles with Nexterra backing were the first carpets certified to NSF 140-2007e, achieving the platinum level.