Focus on Building Materials and Product Labels

Buildings use a massive amount of materials and products that have direct impacts on humans as well as the environment during all phases in the life of a building. Materials and products include structural components, equipment and systems, finishes and furnishings, and products used for operation and maintenance. The following highlights how buildings and building materials are at the intersection of climate change and human health, and how addressing them is an important early step in mitigation of climate change.

The current trend of a rapidly growing number of 'green' testing and labeling efforts is causing confusion in the marketplace and limiting the potential growth in the sale and use of products that are better for climate change and human health. Currently, the labels are either not recognized by users, are not trusted by users, or do not address the broad attributes of green, which is a careful integration of the energy, indoor air quality, water, and recycling implications, and the impacts of operating and maintaining products over their lifetime.

Just as the Energy Star and WaterSense labels have helped level the playing field and lead to transformation of the energy aspects of buildings, materials, and products; an equivalent program that integrates the multi-attributes that comprise 'green' is needed to help ensure a level playing field and lead to the transformation of the green marketplace by providing incentive for manufacturers and retailers to supply greener products, and by providing the necessary information so that consumers can identify, demand, and use greener products. An expanded R&D effort for testing and certification is needed to ensure that a level playing field is created.

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