Buying Green: Database Aims to Streamline Specification

  March 25, 2016

By Dan Hounsell

Specifying sustainable products has long been a challenging task for maintenance and engineering managers in institutional and commercial facilities. Managers understand the need to select products, components and materials that minimize the impact on the environment, but readily available, accurate information on products has been elusive in many cases.

Now, managers have a new resource.

The Quartz Common Products Database is an open database of composition, health hazard and environmental impact data for building products. The Quartz Project is an open data initiative that promotes the transparency of building products. Its goal is to drive market transformation towards less toxic, lower-impact materials for better buildings and healthier communities.

Quartz provides access to open data that promotes the transparency of building materials and products. Many health problems have been linked to poor indoor air quality, which can be affected by building materials that emit volatile organic compounds and solvents. In addition, building-generated carbon dioxide emissions contribute heavily to climate change. To respond to both of these pressing demands, managers need to specify building products that enhance and protect the environment and occupants’ personal health throughout a building's life cycle.

In response to a push for transparency in building materials along the supply chain, Google, AEC tech company Flux, the nonprofit Health Building Network, and global software developer Thinkstep have launched the database, which compares the composition and health and environmental impacts of more than 100 building-product categories. The vendor-neutral information contained by the Quartz Common Product Database can be freely used, redistributed, and modified by the public.

Find out more at:

This Quick Read was submitted by Dan Hounsell, editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions,


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