Spotlight Report

What Makes a Product Green Today?

When BuildingGreen started publication in 1992, simply finding building products designed with environmental benefits in mind was a big challenge.

In the years since we’ve seen rapid advances in green building materials and products, and manufacturers are beginning to take topics such as embodied carbon and social justice concerns— key metrics for any truly sustainable product—more seriously.

We have evaluated thousands of products since the 1990s and have had countless discussions about what makes a product green. Though products and materials have advanced, our metrics for assessing products have remained consistent, but with updates to keep ahead of industry advancements.

These “Green Attributes”—a set of broad criteria and definitions that encompass a product’s full life cycle—can help design teams distinguish green from greenwash, evaluate different options, and make appropriate product selection choices to ensure a high-performing building with the lowest possible environmental and health impacts.

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