New Database Details Health, Environmental Effects of Building Products

A new open-source, online database provides detailed information about the health and environmental effects of more than 100 commonly used building products.

quartzThe Quartz database, which seeks to promote greater transparency in building-product information, is the result of a year-long collaboration called The Quartz Project. Building owners, architects and sustainability specialists, as well as the general public, can now search it at It was unveiled last week at the GreenBiz Group’s Verge conference in San Jose, Calif.

The database was developed by Google; Flux, a technology firm; the Healthy Building Network, which aims to reduce toxic building materials; and think, a software company.

“Google is deeply committed to building the healthiest environment possible,” said Drew Wenzel, campus design technical specialist at Google. “Using healthy products and materials is integral to this mission. In our experience, the process of vetting commonly used building products is very complex, consumes a substantial amount of resources, and does not scale well. The Quartz Project is providing actionable health and environmental data that project teams can use to efficiently and reliably make decisions based on these factors at a much earlier stage in the design process.”

The database integrates both life-cycle analyses (LCAs) and health-hazard data into a single source. Quartz aggregates and standardizes the industry’s current collection of dispersed, inconsistent information into an open directory that’s organized and easy to understand, according to its creators.

“Information gaps and incompatible datasets can make data difficult to analyze, stifling decision-making from whole-building design to product selection,” said Heather Gadonniex, director of sustainable building and construction at thinkstep. “We believe transparent and open data can help solve the challenge of curating the enormous amount of information necessary for meaningful analysis.”

A simple search of “glass” in the database, which can be viewed here, provides information on laminated glass, insulating glass units, sealants and more.

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