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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Quick Takes

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  • 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.

  • 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?

Just For Fun

Something weird happens every April at BuildingGreen...


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  • Remove quotes around phrases to match each word individually: "blue drop" will match less than blue drop.
  • You can require or exclude terms using + and -: big +blue drop will require a match on blue while big blue -drop will exclude results that contain drop.