Can Google Drive the Production of Environmentally Sustainable Buildings?

Google, in partnership with thinkstep, building architecture and engineering efficiency firm Flux and the Healthy Building Network have launched a free database that aims to promote environmentally sustainable buildings.

The Quartz database is the result of a year-long collaboration known as the Quartz Project, whose overall mission is to promote the transparency of building product information. Now freely available to building owners, architects and sustainability specialists, as well as to the general public, the database brings together data on the impacts building materials have on both human health and environmental sustainability.

The partners say the Quartz database will serve as a catalyst for more sustainable materials by providing baseline information for the AEC industry. The database aggregates and standardizes the industry’s current data into an open database of valuable and actionable information that is well organized and easy to understand. It’s an open, vendor-agnostic mechanism that allows the AEC industry to compare, contrast and evaluate materials based on their impact on the environment and human health.

Quartz integrates both LCA and health-hazard data into a single information source using widely accepted and consistent methodologies, such as Pharos Project/GreenScreen hazard screening, TRACI 2.1, and ISO14044.

Data is vendor-neutral and covers 100 building products across a range of categories, such as concrete, drywall and insulation. Products are compared by composition, health impacts, and environmental impacts.

Data is licensed under Creative Commons BY 4.0, meaning there is no restriction on the use, redistribution or modification of the data.

In 2013, Google, the Healthy Building Network and more than 20 other corporations and institutions launched the Building Health Initiative, which aims to elevate green building as a public health benefit and accelerate the development of transparency standards in building materials.

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