Using green building materials and products represents one important green building strategy. In fact, the nationally accepted benchmark for high-performance green building, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, includes Materials and Resources (MR) as one of eight categories used to measure a home’s overall performance.

Green building materials are renewable, recyclable, and consist of salvaged or refurbished materials. They offer specific benefits to the homeowner including reduced maintenance and replacement costs. For example, a deck constructed of a plastic wood product (100% recycled plastic) never needs to be painted or stained and will last longer than a wooden deck. Energy and resource conservation are also benefits of using green materials. Photovoltaics and low-use water fixtures are two green products that help conserve energy and water. Additional benefits of using green building materials are improved occupant health and productivity. Using synthetic green products in the home results in lower chemical emissions, and they contain fewer pesticides and pollutants.

Depending upon project-specific goals, an assessment of a potentially green material may involve evaluating one or more of these criteria: resource efficiency, indoor air quality, energy efficiency, water conservation, and affordability. Often, it is difficult to accurately assess the environmental performance of a building material or product over its entire life cycle. Another viable option, therefore, is to rely on third-party certification organizations. For example, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifies wood products that come from sources that follow a set of FSC sustainable forest management practices. Other recognized third-party certification organizations include: Green Guard, Green Seal, Green Cross, Energy Star, and Scientific Certification Systems.

In addition to self-assessment or third-party certification, you can use material lists and databases to find green materials and products. GreenSpec, a fee-based service, is a comprehensive source of green building product information. It includes more than 1,850 green building products and materials selected by the editors of Environmental Building News, a monthly newsletter published by BuildingGreen, Inc. ( Organized in Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) MasterFormat, GreenSpec includes descriptions of each product, along with environmental considerations and manufacturer contact information.

Other notable sources about green materials and products include:

To learn more about Green Materials and Products, visit:


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