Green Spec Directory at BuildingGreen
This subscription-based service is not exactly a ratings system, but it is a thorough and well-considered database of products that have met the standards of the BuildingGreen organization, which is the publisher of Environmental Building News.
The Green Spec Directory provides basic information for a wide range of materials by categories. Listings for products include a brief assessment of the material, links to manufacturer website, and helpful related articles about the product category.
The product reviewers at BuildingGreen do not adhere to a particular standard when deciding whether or not to approve a product. They explain on their website: “Our team of product experts evaluates each category of building products and materials, and sets a high bar for what we consider ‘greenest of the green’ in that category. We set our bar at a place that is attainable for leading-edge product manufacturers who are actively tackling the key issues in that category.” This type of rating can make it difficult to assess whether or not a product is meeting any quantitative targets for your project, but it is extremely helpful as a way to find your way to products that are excellent in their category.
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Many ratings programs focus on a single aspect of a material or system, and can help to determine whether or not a choice will meet a particular project criterion. There are hundreds of different programs across North America and worldwide. The options given below are exemplary programs that will have meaningful impact on the criteria they cover.
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
FSC is an international not-for-profit organization with branches in both Canada and the United States devoted to the protection of forests. According to their website: “We are an open, membership-led organization that sets standards under which forests and companies are certified. Our membership consists of three equally weighted chambers — environmental, economic, and social — to ensure balance and the highest level of integrity.”
FSC brings a high degree of transparency and equity to their certification programs, and wood products that are FSC-certified can be relied upon to be harvested and milled to the best standards in the industry.