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Green Building - Smart Material and Product Choices

Think of the services that well chosen building materials provide – they give the building structural soundness, provide shielding from the elements, enhance the health and comfort of the interior environment, and give the building an aesthetically pleasing visual identity. Focusing on the services that building materials provide is one way to spotlight opportunities to increase the quality of those services, minimize waste on site, and reduce environmental impacts of materials production on a life-cycle basis.

Questions to Consider

High-Performance Materials and Life Cycle Issues
Certified Wood
General Product Directories and Selection Standards
Recycled Content Building Materials
Reused Building and Construction Materials
Minimizing Material Surplus and Enhancing Durability
Non-Traditional Materials for Residential Construction

High-Performance Materials and Life Cycle Issues

GreenSpec - The Environmental Building News Product Directory
Contains up to date information on more than 1,200 green building products selected by the editors of Environmental Building News.

Building Materials: What Makes a Product Green
This article is a wealth of cross-cutting information including topic areas:

CERF - Advancing the Design and Construction Industry Through Innovation
Created by the American Society of Civil Engineers, brings together diverse groups within the civil engineering community to “facilitate, integrate, and coordinate” solutions to complex research challenges facing the design, construction and environmental industries. CERF operates innovative technology evaluation centers, including one specifically for buildings, to help industry expedite the transfer of innovation into practice. Their CONstruction MATerials (CONMAT) program emphasizes research, development and deployment of high-performance construction materials and systems.

Thesis: Life Cycle Analysis of a Residential Home in Michigan
By: Steven Blanchard and Peter Reppe. October 1998. Sponsored by the National Pollution Prevention Center. Downloadable in .pdf format.
A residential home in Ann Arbor, Michigan was analyzed to determine total life cycle energy consumption of materials fabrication, construction, use and demolition over a 50 year period. Global warming potential and life cycle cost were also determined. The home was then modeled to reduce life cycle energy consumption through various strategies and substitution opportunities.

Certified Wood

Co-op America's WoodWise Program
Overview of certified lumber and sellers of certified lumber
Contact: 800-58-GREEN

Certified wood guidelines, products and suppliers.

Certified Forest Products Council
An independent and voluntary initiative, committed to promoting responsible purchase of forest products in an effort to improve forest management practices. Actively promotes and facilitates third-party certification of forest products, alternative products, and transitioning away from products originating in endangered forests.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
An independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization consisting of environmental and conservation groups, timber industry, forestry profession, indigenous peoples' organizations, community forestry groups and forest product certification organizations from 25 countries. FSC promotes responsible forest management by evaluating and accrediting certifiers, by encouraging the dedication of national and regional forest management standards, and by providing public education and information about independent, third-party certification. The FSC has a set of Principles and Criteria for Forest Management.

Sustainable Forestry Initiative
The American Forest and Papaer Association's certification program for member companies.

General Product Directories and Selection Standards

Green Building Materials
A for-purchase guide to product selection and specifications.
Contact: 212-850-6336

The Oikos Green Building Site and Produce Gallery
Search for green building products, product gallery

From Oikos, link to Resources for Environmental Design Index (REDI) to environmentally friendly building

Green Seal "Choose Green Reports" available at
Individual reports advises on finding and purchasing environmentally preferrable carpets, lighting, and floor coverings.

Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES)
Identifying environmentally and economically balanced building products is not simple. The National Institute of Standards and Technology Green Buildings Program began the BEES project in 1995 to facilitate the identification process. BEES is a systematic software and methodology for selecting building products that achieve the most appropriate balance between environmental and economic performance.

Recycled Content Building Materials

Business and Industry Resource Venture (BIRV) - Seattle, WA
(For Commercial, Industrial and Institutional Projects in the City of Seattle)
BIRV offers free technical assistance to the construction industry in Seattle, Washingon. A project of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and the Seattle Public Utilities, BIRV "can help design to prevent waste, reduce, reuse, and recycle waste on the job site; and select and use resource-efficient building materials.

Guide to Resource Efficient Building Elements (GREBE) (by the Center for Resourceful Building Technology)

Encompass Recycled Content Buildings
Recycled building products and how they have been used in King County

Environmental Home Center - Seattle, Washington
(For Residential Projects)

Cellulose Insulation Manufacturing Association
A trade organization for the "Naturally Better Thermal Protection" provided by cellulose insulation.

Recycled Carpeting
Article: Carpet Take-Back: EPR American Style, published in Autumn 2000 edition of Environmental Quality ManagementMilliken cleans, refurbishes and re-dyes used carpet tiles from commercial applications.

Recycled Furniture Directory

Recycled Paint
Listing available of nationwide paint reprocessors and reblenders.

Reused Building and Construction Materials

Reusable Building Materials Exchange (RBME)
(For Western Washington)
The RBME is a convenient way to easily exchange small or large quantities of used or surplus building materials. Post listings of materials to get rid of or browse for materials currently available in specific locations.

Used Building Materials Association (UBMA)
The UBMA is a non-profit, membership based organization that represents companies and organizations involved in the acquisition and/or redistribution of used building materials.

Minimizing Material Surplus and Enhancing Durability

Advanced Framing Techniques - Optimum Value Engineering (OVE)
New construction techniques are focusing on eliminating waste to improve quality while actually lowering the price. OVE refers to framing techniques that reduce the amount of lumber used to build a home while maintaining the structural integrity of the building. Using OVE techniques results in lower material and labor costs and improved energy performance for the building.

Natural Resources Defense Council Publications
"Efficient Wood Use in Residential Construction: A Practical Guide to Saving Wood, Money, and Forests". By Ann Edminster and Sami Yassa. 1998. (For purchase)

Better Homes & Gardens
Use these calculators to estimate the amount of paint, drywall, wallpaper, lumber, or concrete needed for a project. Good material estimating means less waste at the end of the project.

Protocol for Durability Assessment of Building Products and Systems
Durability is "considered the capability of a building, assembly, component, product, element or construction system to maintain serviceability over time under specific conditions of use". This protocol, developed by National Evaluation Service, Inc., (NES) outlines a durability protocol for use by building technology innovators in planning for and performing durability and service-life assessments.

Wood Durability - Solutions
This site offers best practices for maximizing wood durability from the design phase onward. Discusses issues such as choosing and specifying durable wood, maximizing decay resistance, termite control, moisture protection, and treatment.

Non-Traditional Materials for Residential Construction

Straw Bale Construction

Strawboard Panels

Building With Cob (Natural Earth)

Plastic Lumber

Also see "Creating a Healthy Indoor Environment" section for additional smart building materials and technologies.

Continue Continue to the Demolition and Construction Management Section

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