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.

  • Canadian Timber Companies in Landmark Environmental Deal

    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.

  • New Standard Showcases Efficiency of VRF Multi-Splits

    News Analysis

    The Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) recently created a standard that evaluates the efficiency of variable refrigerant flow (VRF) multi-split heating and cooling systems. AHRI 1230 allows a comparison between VRF multi-splits and unitary HVAC systems that was not possible previously.

  • LEED Policy on Certified Wood Gets Only Minor Changes

    News Analysis

    USGBC has opened new revisions of its policy on certified wood in LEED to public comment. The changes solidify a controversial move made during the last revisions.

  • Energy Star Beefs Up Requirements and Enforcement

    News Analysis

    After an embarrassing report pointed out flaws in the system, Energy Star is revamping its standards, certification processes, and image.

  • Master Painters Institute's New "Extreme Green" Standard

    News Analysis

    MPI has released a new standard with tight restrictions on volatile organic compounds.

  • Revised LEED Wood Credit Slammed from Both Sides

    News Analysis

    The latest draft of LEED's proposed new Forest Certification credit includes a significant change from the previous version-and stakeholders on all sides are sounding alarms.

  • Dow Styrofoam Cradle to Cradle Certified, Despite Chemistry

    News Analysis

    Dow Chemical's Styrofoam extruded polystyrene has been awarded Cradle-to-Cradle Silver certification by MBDC, despite some questionable environmental characteristics.

  • BuildingGreen Announces 2009 Top-10 Green Products

    News Analysis

    BuildingGreen's annual list of Top-10 Green Building Products recognizes the most exciting products from recent additions to the GreenSpec directory and coverage in EBN.

  • Wind Turbine Certification Forthcoming

    News Analysis

    A new performance standard for small wind turbines being developed by the American Wind Energy Association will be used by the newly formed Small Wind Certification Council to certify wind turbine durability and performance based on standardized wind conditions.

  • USGBC Revising Forest Certification Benchmark for LEED

    News Analysis

    The U.S. Green Building Council has opened recent revisions to the LEED certified wood credit to public comment.