Spec This, Not That: The GreenSpec Guide to 11 Key Product Sectors Video, 70 minutes

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Product selection clarified

Green products are easy to find these days. Maybe a little too easy: how do you separate the green from the greenwash?

Product manufacturers have caught the green wave and found an angle that can make even the most run-of-the-mill product sound right for your high-performance project. But which products are the greenest of the green—and which so-called green products should be avoided at all costs?

The best (and worst) products in key categories

GreenSpec's database of over 2,600 handpicked green listings has long been the go-to source for high-performing projects. Now in this special webcast, GreenSpec editors Brent Ehrlich and Tristan Roberts pull back the curtain and expose how we picked our top products in 11 key sectors, and which products we passed over—and recommend that you avoid, too.

We'll cover interior products:

Interior paints: With "low-VOC" seemingly everywhere now, we'll look at how to widen your specifications to include a focus on performance—and how do to that differently based on application conditions.

Carpeting: The carpeting industry is one of the most proactive in improving environmental performance, but has it come far enough? If you're using carpet, we'll recommend what to look for, and what chemical treatments to avoid.  </li>

Resilient flooring: Vinyl is popular and inexpensive. Is it worth higher upfront cost to go with an alternative? Which options truly reduce maintenance?

As well as exterior and weatherproofing products:

Spray-applied insulation; Is it true that spray foam is the way to go, with air-sealing plus insulation benefits, or is there a lower-impact way to high performance? We'll explain how to combine products for triple-optimized performance: health, energy and environment.

Permeable pavers look great and help manage stormwater&mdash;a win-win, right? Yes, but don't get tripped up by the flame retardants in some products (yes, you read that correctly).  </li>

Skylights: They give buildings daylighting and a more attractive interior, but watch out for the energy hogs.

Low-Slope Roofing: Choosing a particular type of plastic is no guarantee of low toxicity, as membrane constituents vary by manufacturer. We'll walk you through what to look for.

We won't skip over one of the hottest&mdash;and most confusing&mdash;areas in product selection today.

LED lighting: Color temperature, appropriate drivers and dimmers, digital compatibility, and modular systems are just a few of the considerations. LEDs offer the possibility of delivering energy efficiency and great design opportunities, but no one wants a flickering, buzzing system that burns out prematurely.

In each sector, Brent and Tristan will discuss what products to look for, what products to avoid, and most importantly, why&mdash;so that you can be armed not only with new ideas for your next project, but new insights the next time you're asked for a cost-competitive, high-performing solution.

Some of the factors we'll discuss in product selection include:


  • Cost
  • Ingredients&mdash;do we know what's in it?
  • Long-term performance
  • Chemical emissions
  • Aesthetic choices



Brent conducts research and writes product- and category-level descriptions for BuildingGreen's industry-leading GreenSpec product directory. He also contributes product reviews and feature articles for Environmental Building News, and is a contributing editor to McGraw-Hill's GreenSource magazine.

Tristan is editor of LEEDuser.com, a website that provides how-to resources for LEED certification teams. Tristan is also Editorial Director for BuildingGreen, publishers of LEEDuser as well as Environmental Building News, GreenSpec, and BuildingGreen.com.