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.

  • Making Carpet Environmentally Friendly
    June 7, 2007

    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
    February 1, 2007

    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.

  • Greening Your Electricity
    September 28, 2006

    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
    August 29, 2006

    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.

  • Bamboo in Construction: Is the Grass Always Greener?
    March 1, 2006

    Feature Article

    An increasingly popular building material, bamboo is celebrated for its quick growth and ability to regenerate after being harvested. But bamboo also has its downsides. In this feature article, EBN examines the pros and cons of building with bamboo.

  • BuildingGreen Announces Top 10 Products for 2018
    November 9, 2017

    Product Review

     

    Our innovative Top 10 product selections improve IAQ, save energy and water, contain fewer hazardous materials, and promote material transparency.

  • An Embarrassment of Riches: Products and Materials at Greenbuild 2017
    November 2, 2017

    Blog Post

    A new focus on embodied carbon and LEED v4 are driving designers to dive deep into what we choose for our buildings

  • California Law Uses Environmental Product Declarations to Drive Low-Carbon Procurement
    October 17, 2017

    News Analysis

    Buy Clean California is the first law in the nation to address embodied carbon in construction materials.

  • Mineral-Based Interior Paints Go Mainstream
    September 5, 2017

    Product Review

    Mineral-based paint from Romabio contains no synthetic resins, and can be used in place of standard interior acrylic latex paint on drywall.

  • Pete’s Puzzle: Mold on Painted Clapboards is Food for Thought
    August 29, 2017

    Blog Post

    There is mold on the factory-primed, latex top-coated wood clapboards on the south but not the north side of our house