Materials Matter

Knowing where our materials come from, what’s in them, how they were made, and how long they’ll persist in the environment beyond the life of a building gives us greater control over our projects and product decisions. This knowledge allows architects to set priorities and identify opportunities for innovation.

The AIA Materials Matter initiative is empowering architects to become advocates for materials transparency, and in so doing, enhancing design of a healthier, greener, more prosperous, and more equitable built environment.

Beyond product selection, we can also look at how we design for material efficiency. Possible solutions could be to design in modules to reduce fall-off waste, reduce the building footprint by increased efficiency of space, or reusing existing or deconstructed building elements in creative ways.

By advocating for more information from manufacturers, using the materials we do select more efficiently, and educating ourselves on effective ways to communicate the effects of our choices, architects can better steer the decision-making process in a direction that optimizes performance, health, environmental, economic and social factors.

Sign up for one of the Materials Matter courses on AIAU and take time to explore the range of articles and resources below.

Not sure why materials matter? Here is an article to get you started.

The materials we use for our buildings affect our health, planet, and everyday lives. Even when we know the results we are searching for, it isn’t as clear how we integrate that into our practice. Learning how to navigate different certifications, risks, and processes when choosing materials is still onerous.

Impact on practice

How materials transparency affects your practice

Architects and designers have a oft-unrecognized yet influential role in reducing negative human health, social, and environmental impacts by way of better building product selection. Negative impacts on people and the planet can be lessened by selecting innovative and responsible materials from manufacturers that practice transparency.

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What all architects need to know about materials transparency

AIA''s Materials Knowledge Working Group has compiled a short list of five things every architect should know about the transparency process and related liability risks.

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Materials transparency and risk for architects

A new white paper from AIA's Materials Knowledge Working Group offers a deep dive into the risks and opportunities associated with the evolving landscape of product content transparency.

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The mindful MATERIALS Cloud Library: Navigating the maze of transparency information

The former sustainable materials specialist at HKS explains how their cloud library evolved from a product labeling initiative to a tool for all architects interested in materials transparency.

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