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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  • Choosing Windows: Looking Through the Options

    Feature Article

    We ask a lot from windows: energy efficiency, aesthetics, durability, affordability, and more. Which window frame materials and low-e glazing options balance these choices best? This article explores all the options and decodes the performance labels we see when buying windows.

  • What's New in Multi-Attribute Environmental Certifications

    Feature Article

    The industry is increasingly recognizing the need for a more comprehensive review of green products. We don't have perfect programs yet, but we scrutinize the most prominent programs out there and highlight how they're useful.

  • AIA Writes ‘Prescription’ for Healthier Materials

    News Brief

    A new publication published by AIA provides guidance on how to put healthier material selection into practice.

  • Chemistry for Designers: Understanding Hazards in Building Products

    Feature Article

    What's in our building materials? Are there chemicals we should be afraid of? Trying to get answers to these questions can be frustrating, but there are a number of good tools available.

  • Making Carpet Environmentally Friendly

    Feature Article

    Carpets are the most popular floorcovering in the U.S., but they have also been associated with environmental problems including indoor air emissions and intensive resource use. However, manufacturers have worked to curb their environmental footprints by recycling carpet, examining their life-cycle impacts, and pursuing broad-based certification.

  • Cradle to Cradle Certification: A Peek Inside MBDC's Black Box

    Feature Article

    Cradle to Cradle is a multiple-attribute product certification program based on the philosophy of architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart, and the work of their company, McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC). While MBDC's consulting services are driving breakthroughs in green manufacturing, the certification program lacks some of the comprehensiveness and transparency that are increasingly expected in the green certification market.

  • The Combined Effectiveness of Prefab, Wood, and Passive House

    News Analysis

    Recent projects have combined modular prefabrication, wood construction, and Passive House design to address sustainability goals.

  • New PVC-Free Resilient Flooring Options

    Product Review

    Shaw is now offering biobased and recycled PET resilient flooring options for commercial and healthcare applications.

  • Greening Your Electricity

    Feature Article

    Many businesses and homeowners are choosing to buy green power, including renewable energy credits (RECs). This article examines the environmental benefits of green power, including on-site renewables, what REC buyers should know about their purchases, and investing in energy conservation.

  • Get a Whiff of This: The Lowdown on Product Emissions Testing

    Feature Article

    Analytical chemistry tools, used together with product testing chambers, are making it possible to "see" product emissions in new ways. Editor Nadav Malin discusses the science behind product emissions testing, the different product certification standards, and what's ahead for this growing field.