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Picture this: a bustling construction site, heavy machinery humming, workers bustling about, and amidst it all, a delicate ecosystem silently observing. Yes, you read that right—nature, with all its beauty and intricacies, often finds itself an unwitting spectator to our human endeavors. As we dive into the world of green building certifications and material libraries, it’s time to acknowledge the unexpected guests in our construction narratives: the wildlife.

Ever found yourself knee-deep in the world of green building libraries and certifications, only to realize there’s a glaring omission? I sure have. While these resources provide a wealth of information on sustainability, they often leave us scratching our heads when it comes to understanding their direct impact on wildlife and their habitats.

It’s a puzzling realization, isn’t it? Here we are, meticulously selecting eco-friendly materials and striving for LEED certification, yet we’re left in the dark about how our choices affect the very creatures that once roamed freely on the land we now inhabit.

Consider this: the trees we harvest for timber, the minerals we extract for building materials, the water we divert for construction—all of these resources were first utilized by wildlife in their natural state. As stewards of the environment, it’s incumbent upon us to not only consider the sustainability of our practices but also the implications for the inhabitants who share this planet with us.

In this light, it becomes abundantly clear that our approach to green building must evolve. It’s not just about achieving certifications or checking boxes—it’s about understanding the intricate relationship between our actions and the ecosystems they impact. We need to delve deeper, on our own, asking not just what makes a material sustainable, but how it affects wildlife and their way of life. Why? So we can live in balance on this planet together. Because we all belong here. Not just us.

So, let’s challenge the status quo. Let’s continue to demand transparency and accountability from our green building standards, ensuring they prioritize the wellbeing of all beings. And let’s hang on to our own curiosity to figure it out on our own, because we can’t wait. (Or hire me to do it for you.) After all, if we truly aim to build a sustainable future, it must be one that embraces and protects the natural world in all its diversity.

Whether you’re a seasoned industry professional or a DIY enthusiast embarking on your first project, this conversation is relevant to us all. Let’s ask the tough questions, seek out the answers, and commit to sourcing materials that bring absolute minimal harm along their entire lifecycle because every choice counts.

 

Libraries

Material-Based Green Building Libraries

In the world of green building, knowledge is key. The following material-specific libraries offer a plethora of resources to aid in environmentally preferable building product selection. By understanding the unique features of each, you can make informed decisions that not only promote sustainability but also prioritize the wellbeing of wildlife and their habitats. Let’s dive into how these libraries can help us decipher the impact of our choices on the natural world.

*Many of these links go to numerous libraries and tools within each organization listed, so please take a look at each!

Athena Sustainable Materials Institute

  • Purpose: Introduction to resources for environmentally preferable building product selection.
  • Unique Features: Incorporates life cycle assessment tools to understand material impacts on wildlife habitats.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Enables informed decision-making by identifying materials with minimal harm to wildlife habitats and ecosystems.

FSC Forest Stewardship Council Database

  • Purpose: Explanation of responsible forestry practices.
  • Unique Features: Focuses on the impact of sustainable wood sourcing on wildlife habitats.
  • Utilizing Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Facilitates the selection of products with reduced ecological footprint, indirectly benefiting wildlife habitats.

Global GreenTag

  • Purpose: Significance of certification and rating system for wildlife-friendly materials.
  • Unique Features: Comprehensive disclosure of product ingredients and their environmental impacts.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Empowers users to prioritize materials that minimize harm to wildlife habitats and ecosystems.

Healthy Building Network (HBN) Pharos Database

  • Purpose: Insight into material ingredients and environmental impacts.
  • Unique Features: Provides detailed specifications for various building materials and components.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Enables identification of materials conducive to wildlife-friendly construction practices.

Mindful Materials Library

  • Purpose: Focus on healthy and sustainable building materials.
  • Unique Features: Links human and wildlife health considerations.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Facilitates the identification of environmentally preferable materials, promoting wildlife-friendly construction practices.

Material Bank

  • Purpose: Curated collections of innovative and sustainable materials.
  • Unique Features: Integration of life cycle assessment data and sustainability certifications.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Supports the selection of low-impact materials, indirectly benefiting wildlife habitats and ecosystems.

BuildingGreen

  • Purpose: Resources, articles, and product database focused on sustainable building materials.
  • Unique Features: Incorporates detailed specifications for various building materials and components.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Enables identification of materials conducive to wildlife-friendly construction practices.

Comprehensive Green Building Libraries

Declare

  • Purpose: Transparent product database for responsible building materials.
  • Unique Features: Comprehensive disclosure of product ingredients and their environmental impacts.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Enables informed decision-making by identifying materials with minimal harm to wildlife habitats and ecosystems.

Green Products Directory (EPA)

  • Purpose: Government-backed directory showcasing sustainable products.
  • Unique Features: Rigorous evaluation process to ensure environmental performance and sustainability.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Facilitates the selection of products with reduced ecological footprint, indirectly benefiting wildlife habitats.

Sustainable Minds

  • Purpose: Product database and resources for sustainable product selection.
  • Unique Features: Comprehensive life cycle assessment data for evaluating environmental impacts.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Empowers users to prioritize materials that minimize harm to wildlife habitats and ecosystems.

Architecture 2030 Product Library

  • Purpose: Features products aligned with carbon neutrality goals.
  • Unique Features: Focus on reducing carbon emissions throughout the product life cycle.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Supports the selection of low-impact materials, indirectly benefiting wildlife habitats and ecosystems.

Ecomedes

  • Purpose: Searchable database of sustainable building products.
  • Unique Features: Integration of life cycle assessment data and sustainability certifications.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Facilitates the identification of environmentally preferable materials, promoting wildlife-friendly construction practices.

Every click through these libraries offers an opportunity to align your choices with wildlife conservation efforts. Let’s uncover how to decipher and utilize these tools to make choices that benefit not just us, but all creatures who call this planet home.

Certificates

Certifications serve as guiding beacons, illuminating paths toward environmentally conscious choices. While these certifications predominantly focus on human-centric concerns such as health and safety, their implications for wildlife conservation are profound yet often overlooked. Let’s embark on a journey to explore various certifications, uncovering their unique attributes and discerning how they can be wielded to champion wildlife-friendly sourcing practices.

Antimicrobial Free

  • Purpose: Ensures products are free from substances harmful to microbes, reducing allergy or skin irritation risks.
  • Unique Features: Addresses concerns related to antimicrobial substances, promoting safer environments.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: By minimizing exposure to harmful substances, indirectly supports wildlife health and habitat preservation efforts.

CARB Compliant

  • Purpose: Indicates compliance with California Air Resources Board’s formaldehyde emission standards for wood products.
  • Unique Features: Focuses on reducing formaldehyde emissions, contributing to improved air quality.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Reduces air pollution, indirectly benefiting wildlife habitats and ecosystems.

CDPH/CHPS 01350 Compliant

  • Purpose: Signifies low chemical emissions for improved indoor air quality.
  • Unique Features: Targets chemical emissions reduction, fostering healthier indoor environments.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Promotes healthier environments, indirectly contributing to wildlife conservation efforts.

CE Certified

  • Purpose: Indicates compliance with European safety, health, and environmental standards.
  • Unique Features: Ensures adherence to stringent European regulations, promoting environmental sustainability.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Supports sustainable manufacturing practices, indirectly benefiting wildlife habitats.

Certified B Corp

  • Purpose: Ensures ethical business practices, fair treatment of workers, and environmental sustainability.
  • Unique Features: Focuses on social and environmental responsibility.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Supports companies committed to sustainable practices, indirectly benefiting wildlife conservation efforts.

Clean Air Act Certified

  • Purpose: Meets US Clean Air Act emission standards for specific materials.
  • Unique Features: Addresses emissions reduction, contributing to improved air quality.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Minimizes air pollution, indirectly supporting wildlife conservation efforts.

CRI Green Label Plus Indoor Air Quality

  • Purpose: Ensures low chemical emissions and compliance with specific volatile organic compound (VOC) limits.
  • Unique Features: Focuses on improving indoor air quality, minimizing environmental pollution.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Reduces pollution, indirectly benefiting wildlife habitats and ecosystems.

Crystalline Silica Free

  • Purpose: Indicates that a product does not contain crystalline silica, a potential respiratory irritant.
  • Unique Features: Focuses on reducing exposure to harmful substances.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Reduces exposure to harmful substances in the environment, indirectly benefiting wildlife.

Declare Label – LBC Red List Approved

  • Purpose: Ensures products avoid materials on the Living Building Challenge’s “Red List” of harmful chemicals.
  • Unique Features: Aims to minimize the release of toxic substances into the environment.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Supports the selection of materials with minimal environmental impact, indirectly benefiting wildlife habitats.

Declare Label – Red List Free

  • Purpose: Signifies that a product completely avoids materials on the Living Building Challenge’s “Red List” of harmful chemicals.
  • Unique Features: Focuses on eliminating hazardous substances from products.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Reduces the release of hazardous substances into ecosystems, indirectly benefiting wildlife.

Energy Star

  • Purpose: Energy Star certification is awarded to products and buildings that meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Unique Features: Focuses on energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Reduces energy consumption and mitigates climate change impacts on ecosystems, indirectly benefiting wildlife.

Formaldehyde Free

  • Purpose: Indicates that a product contains very low or no detectable formaldehyde, a potential irritant.
  • Unique Features: Focuses on reducing formaldehyde exposure.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Reduces exposure to harmful substances in the environment, indirectly benefiting wildlife.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification

  • Purpose: FSC certification ensures products come from responsibly managed forests.
  • Unique Features: Promotes forest conservation, biodiversity, and habitat preservation.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Supports sustainable forestry practices and habitat preservation, indirectly benefiting wildlife.

GREENGUARD Gold

  • Purpose: Ensures very low chemical emissions for improved indoor air quality.
  • Unique Features: Focuses on promoting healthier indoor environments.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Reduces pollution, indirectly benefiting wildlife habitats and ecosystems.

Green Seal

  • Purpose: Green Seal certifies products and services that meet rigorous environmental standards.
  • Unique Features: Independent testing and verification to ensure minimal environmental impact.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Reduces pollution, conserves resources, and promotes ecosystem health, indirectly benefiting wildlife.

Halogenated Flame Retardants Free

  • Purpose: Indicates that a product avoids certain flame retardants linked to health and environmental concerns.
  • Unique Features: Aims to reduce the release of harmful substances.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Reduces the release of harmful substances into ecosystems, indirectly benefiting wildlife.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)

  • Purpose: LEED certification provides a framework for designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining green buildings and communities.
  • Unique Features: Globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Promotes resource efficiency, sustainable materials, and green infrastructure, aligning with wildlife conservation goals.

Living Building Challenge Red List Free

  • Purpose: Signifies that a product completely avoids materials on the Living Building Challenge’s “Red List” of harmful chemicals.
  • Unique Features: Aims to eliminate hazardous substances from products.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Minimizes the release of toxic substances into ecosystems, indirectly benefiting wildlife.

OEKO-TEX Standard 100

  • Purpose: Ensures that textiles are free from harmful substances and safe for human contact.
  • Unique Features: Focuses on promoting safe and sustainable textile production.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Reduces pollution and habitat degradation, indirectly benefiting wildlife.

UL Environment (UL ECOLOGO)

  • Purpose: UL ECOLOGO certifies products with reduced environmental impact.
  • Unique Features: Stringent environmental standards and independent verification.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Promotes cleaner air, water, and ecosystems, indirectly benefiting wildlife.

WaterSense

  • Purpose: WaterSense promotes water efficiency and conservation in homes, businesses, and landscapes.
  • Unique Features: Identifies products certified to use less water without sacrificing performance.
  • Utilizing for Wildlife-Friendly Sourcing: Preserves freshwater ecosystems and reduces habitat degradation by promoting water conservation.

Green building certifications offer multifaceted avenues for advancing sustainability in construction projects. By harnessing their criteria and standards, stakeholders can make conscientious decisions that not only safeguard human well-being but also promote the preservation of wildlife habitats and ecosystems. Let’s harness the power of certifications as catalysts for creating environments where humans and wildlife thrive harmoniously.

Building Bridges: Integrating Wildlife Conservation into Green Building Practices

It’s clear that the conversation is just beginning. While these resources offer valuable insights into sustainability, they often overlook the direct impact on wildlife and their habitats. However, armed with knowledge and a commitment to change, we can take proactive steps to prioritize wildlife-friendly practices in our construction projects.

Remember, it’s not enough to simply aim for certifications or rely on existing libraries. We must advocate for transparency, accountability, and our own deeper understanding of how our choices affect the natural world. By incorporating wildlife conservation into the fabric of green building, we can create spaces that not only benefit humans but also support thriving ecosystems.

So, whether you’re an industry professional or a DIY enthusiast, let’s continue to ask the tough questions, seek out innovative solutions, and advocate for a future where sustainability and wildlife coexist harmoniously, one project at a time.

Ashley

As an advocate for wildlife conservation and with experience in the design/build industry, Ashley fuses her passions to offer clients and trade professionals the solutions needed to craft homes that allow wildlife to keep theirs, too, because one home no longer needs to be sacrificed for the other. Ashley seeks to empower the well-being of nature and wildlife by reconnecting people and planet in a blissful balance and furthering the fight against natural habitat loss within her industry. Through Wildlifeel at Home, she highlights compassionate choices and teaches readers how to ‘Adopt the Alternative.'

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