News Brief

Environmental Resource Guide on CD-ROM

by The American Institute of Architects, 1999. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. CD-ROM for Windows, Macintosh, or Unix computers, $125

The American Institute of Architect’s

Environmental Resource Guide (ERG) has been, since its inception in 1992, a leading resource on the environmental impacts of building materials (see


Vol. 5, No. 2 and

Vol. 6, No. 3 for reviews). It contains detailed technical Materials Reports on the life-cycle of building materials, Application Reports (written by

EBN editorial staff) comparing several materials for specific functions, and Project Reports in the form of case studies of green buildings.

Until now, all these reports have been available only in a large three-ring binder that was last published in 1996, with supplements added in 1997 and 1998. Since much of the content—especially the Material Reports—was never intended to be read cover-to-cover, having it available in this less cumbersome digital format is a welcome change.

Unfortunately, the publisher chose to convert the entire 1,380-page ERG into a single, huge Adobe Acrobat™ file. As a result, the user can do a “find” for a term, but searching is slow and occurrences are displayed one at a time. The CD would be more useful with each report in its own file; Acrobat’s powerful multifile search features could speedily find all relevant passages. The document would also be much more useful if internal cross-references were active links—one drawback of the printed ERG is the frequent need to search through other reports for referenced information. Individual pages and entire reports printed from the CD-ROM look just like the printed pages in the binder. Printing a report is made complicated, however, by the fact that one has to determine the exact page range rather than simply print a file. On the positive side, the Acrobat file does have “bookmarks” and links from the Table of Contents that allow the user to jump directly to any report.

At this writing, it appears that Wiley and the AIA have decided not to produce further supplements or updates to the ERG, so the current version may be the last. The AIA’s Committee on the Environment is working to determine what its next generation of green building resource materials should be. Meanwhile, if you don’t own the printed version, this CD-ROM is a good deal and definitely worth considering. If you do have the binder, there is probably not enough utility in this digital version to justify the cost.

Published April 1, 1999

(1999, April 1). Environmental Resource Guide on CD-ROM. Retrieved from

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