As Sustainability Director and Specification Writer at Ayers Saint Gross, one of my main focus areas is assuring that we select building products carefully, to meet the requirements of our clients and the building users.

I recently presented a session entitled “Product Rules” at Greenbuild, USGBC’s annual conference. Drawing inspiration from Michael Pollan’s book “Food Rules,” these Product Rules provide 12 basic guidelines for selecting better, healthier, more environmentally responsible products and materials. I developed them in close collaboration with Paula Melton, Senior Editor at BuildingGreen; Jennifer Atlee, Sustainable Material Consultant at PROSOCO; and Kirsten Ritchie, Director of Sustainable Design at Gensler.

The session received such great feedback that BuildingGreen is re-running the session as a webinar (available soon). BuildingGreen also developed an easy-to-read and educational infographic, available here for download.


Americans tend to believe that if a product is on the market, someone makes sure that it is safe. We increasingly understand that this is not necessarily true.

We are on a mission to encourage all product manufacturers to disclose information about the environmental life-cycle impacts, sourcing information, and clear direction on exactly what material ingredients are incorporated into their products. These rules reflect these concerns.

By merging a deep knowledge of building materials with a passion for critical environmental issues, we can drastically improve our buildings, providing better environments for all.

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