Material selection for sustainable buildings

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



The study provides an insightful view on the institutional infrastructure for regulating and guiding sustainable material selection practice, and different approaches for configuring them. It is noted that this should follow the accelerating demands of the real estate market, providing guidelines, measurement criteria, verification methods as well as investigating market potentials and third-party certification requirements. The study investigates two well-known green building rating systems (GBRSs) according to these defined scopes for the efficiency of materials and resources (MR); BREEAM and LEED. These provide a set of guidelines and measurement criteria. A mixed qualitative and quantitative approach was used to investigate and compare the percentage fulfilment for each scope in their latest version developments. In addition, interviews and designed questionnaires were carried to investigate practitioners' opinion about the use of both rating systems for MR in their sustainable projects. This contributes to a broader discussion about the comprehensiveness of available guidelines, reliability of measurement criteria, quality of verification tools as well as availability and price of certified materials and products. The result showed that new versions put more emphasis on verification of the environmental impact of sustainable materials but less is paid for certification and market potentials. This makes it challenging to comply with these criteria and require further consideration and balance from developers as well as more effort for practitioners to acquire related knowledge and practice about life cycle approach. This points out the importance of striking a balance between prescriptive and performance requirements for material selection and procurement in practice, noting that it is still research in process for a standard acceptable method that is both relevant to construction best practices and supported by scientific knowledge.