Frequently Asked Questions

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Green Building Pages - General
Green Building Pages - General


001. What is Green Building Pages?

Green Building Pages is a comprehensive Internet resource for anyone interested in sustainable design and building, a tool for architects, designers, builders, engineers, spec writers, and construction clients. Our Green Products database provides these users with all the necessary product and contact information, as well as comments on detailed environmental and social criteria that show the overall sustainability of a product. We are a for-profit business dedicated to the research and promotion of sustainable building materials.


002. How did Green Building Pages get started? Who is behind it all?

Green Building Pages began as the Sustainable Building Materials Resource Guide, the brainchild of Marilyn Farmer, AIA, at Habitat Studio, San Luis Obispo, California. Years of her personal and professional research in sustainability and sustainable building, as well as a growing database of over 2,000 building materials, continuously added to and maintained by her architectural office, have accumulated into what is now the Green Building Pages website. Go to "About GBP" to see other organizations and individuals who have contributed to the development of Green Building Pages.


003. How can I contact the Green Building Pages staff?

For questions regarding the Green Building Pages content, or sustainable design in general, send an e-mail to To report a technical error on the website, send an e-mail to Or write to us at: 1350 Marsh Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401.


004. Are all products listed on the Green Building Pages actually "green"?

No, not necessarily. After a registered manufacturer supplies a minimum amount of information about the product and company, we evaluate the product based on the Green Building Pages Evaluation Criteria. The company then approves the publication of this evaluation and all submitted company and product information before the product is listed in the searchable Green Products database. Typically, only "green" product manufacturers are interested in having their product evaluated based on "green" criteria, but any product can be listed if the company approves the publication of the evaluation.


005. How does Green Building Pages evaluate the products listed?

Based on the information provided in the Company and Product Profile Forms, GBP rates the product in each category of the GBP Criteria.

Company and Product Profile Form - PDF version (Acrobat Reader required)
GBP Evaluation Criteria


006. How can I support Green Building Pages?

Link to our website [#406]. Use it often. Spread the word. Send us feedback. Send the manufacturers feedback. Ask them the questions they have not answered. If you know of a particular product that does not appear on Green Building Pages, ask the manufacturer to register

Company & Product Profile Forms - General


101. What are the Company & Product Profile Forms?

Manufacturers use the Company and Product Profile Forms (PDF version) to provide Green Building Pages with the information necessary to complete the GBP Evaluation. Our database saves one Company Profile per registered product manufacturer and one Product Profile for each product that the manufacturer adds to the database. All information provided in the Profiles is available to the public once the product is approved to be published on the GBP website, by clicking on the "More information…" link at the bottom of the Product Page.


102. Why are there so many questions about the company's business practices?

A sustainable system generally can be defined in environmental, economic and social terminology. In economic terminology, a sustainable economic system is one in which the expenditures are at least equal or less than the income. In social terminology, a sustainable social system is one in which all members are empowered to contribute, creating a synergistic whole. The total sustainability of a product, therefore, depends as much upon the company that makes the product, and the impact of the company's business in the economic and social realms, as it depends upon the actual environmental impact of the product itself.The Company Profile is Green Building Pages' acknowledgment that a truly sustainable system involves more than just environmental factors. This multi-faceted approach to sustainability includes understanding the economic and social impact of the company that manufactures and sells a given product. The Company Profile section gives companies the opportunity to describe policies and procedures that give added depth to products' "green" claims.


103. What is a "chain of custody"?

"Chain of custody" refers to taking "upstream" and "downstream" responsibility for a product. Green Building Pages' goal with the Chain of Custody category is to encourage the tracking of the product from its original raw material sources to its final sale, to help manufacturers better understand the effects of their products upstream and downstream of the manufacturing process. Some certifying agencies have developed specific criteria for a Chain of Custody Certification. Green Building Pages does not certify Chain of Custody for the product profile information, but does encourage it by awarding points for asking suppliers to fill out the Green Building Pages Product Questionnaire.


104. What is a "social chain of custody", and why do we ask about it?

"Social chain of custody" refers to taking "upstream" and "downstream" responsibility for a product's social consequences, acknowledging that giving business to a particular company condones their business practices. Green Building Pages encourages companies to investigate the policies and procedures of suppliers with which they conduct business by awarding points for asking them to fill out the Green Building Pages Supplier Questionnaire.


105. Does the form have to be so long?

Yes. The Product and Company Profile Forms are long because they are comprehensive, covering all facets of a product's sustainability. Although sustainability is a simple biological concept, evaluating the sustainability of a given system is quite complex. Gathering the necessary information in such a way that does not allow for subjective interpretations that lead to inflated or undervalued perceptions, adds to the complexity of this evaluation process. The length of the forms also depends upon the complexity of the material itself. Almost half of all the information requested in the forms refers to the manufacturing process of the material - a more complex manufacturing process will require more information for evaluation.


106. How were the questions on the profile forms developed?

Green Building Pages developed its Product and Company Profile Forms in part from compilations of "green criteria" from other recognized sources, and expanded based on independent research in materials processing and the environmental impact of the materials manufacturing industry. Consequently, GBP's Product and Company Profile forms are the most comprehensive of its kind to be published. Many of the sources for GBP research can be found in the Links & Resources section of our website, under Weblinks and Paper-Published Media.


107. How are answers evaluated?

Once a Product Profile has been submitted for evaluation, the information is processed through the GBP Evaluation Criteria formulas that generate the Product Sustainability Review. Portions of the Criteria are more subjective and cannot be evaluated by computer programming. These criteria items are researched and evaluated individually by a GBP staff member. GBP staff then review the Criteria Evaluation for accuracy, and create and edit the Product Page for final authorized publication.


108. What is the minimum required information?

Green Building Pages requires certain information to be given before we will evaluate a product or list it on our website. All questions in the following categories must be answered before submitting the Product Profile for evaluation:

·  Inputs (except for the "distance from supplier to manufacturing facility" question under each input)
·  Outputs
·  Water
·  Energy
·  Greenhouse Gases
·  Ozone Depletion
·  Packaging
·  Environmental Policy (on the Company Profile)
Specific Questions on the Profile Forms - Listed by Category

Production & Manufacture
Installation, Use & Maintenance
End of Product Life
Testing & Certifications
Company Profile
Production & Manufacture

201. What is considered an "input"?

Green Building Pages considers an input to be anything going into as well as anything "in front of" the production process. For example, if a product's production process begins with a material that has been manufactured in another process or by another company (e.g., vinyl), the "inputs" include the inputs of the upstream material.


202. What if an input material is a composite material made by another company?

The information about the components of the composite material must be obtained from the supplier. The Product Questionnaire can be used to obtain this information, earning additional points under the Chain of Custody criteria category.


203. What if I can't get information on an input material from the supplier of that input?

Consider using another supplier for that material. Truly investing in the concept of sustainability requires using your sphere of influence to promote and encourage a wholly sustainable design. Sustainability is about the interconnection of all systems, not about maintaining an artificial standard for just one supposedly isolated process.


204. What do you mean "% of Final Product Weight"? What if an input is not part of the final product?

We ask for the weight of the input as a percentage of the final product weight in order to create a common denominator for all the inputs. The number entered for "% of Final Product Weight" may be over 100, since the input does not necessarily have to be physically present in the final product, or present in the same quantity in the final product as in the beginning of the manufacturing process. This way of normalizing weights is also used when asking about outputs and recyclable components (in the End of Product Life section).


205. How am I supposed to determine the "average distance from supplier to manufacturer" for each input?

If the input material always comes from the same source at the same location and always goes to the same manufacturing location, then this number would not be an average, but rather just the total number of miles from the origin to the place of manufacture. If the input material comes from several different locations, or goes to several different locations, then this number should be the average of the total distances from each place of origin to manufacturing facility. The total distance from origin to manufacture includes the travel to/from intermediate stops (e.g., to/from warehouses or distribution centers), especially with composite materials. Exact distances are not necessary - distances should be rounded as appropriate for their length (e.g., to the nearest 100 miles if over 1,000 miles, to the nearest 10 miles if under 100 miles, etc.). The answer to this question is not required for the initial submittal of the Product Profile (although the remainder of the Inputs section is required information [#108]).


206. Why isn't water included in the Outputs?

Water is a separate category because water used for production and for building facilities is seldom recorded or measured separately. Water comes into the manufacturing center and leaves the manufacturing center regardless of whether it is used in the manufacturing process, and is an increasingly precious natural resource.


207. What if water in the manufacturing facility is used for more than just the manufacturing process? Why isn't water used for the building systems distinguished from the water used for manufacturing the product?

Green Building Pages asks for the quantity of water used overall in a manufacturing facility for the reasons described above [#206]. We ask for the quantity of water used per unit of product in order to have a normalizing factor in evaluating the quantity. In this way, a small manufacturer is not being evaluated on a scale more appropriate for a large manufacturer, and vice versa.


208. Why ask the distance to each distributor?

Studies have shown that transportation of materials has significant environmental impact. Damages vary greatly depending on the length of distance and the type of transportation vehicle used. The distance between the point of manufacture and the distributor accounts for a portion of the product's environmental impact due to transportation. The distances entered in Inputs account for transportation on the front end of the manufacturing process. The entire "Transportation" category is not required for initial submittal [#14] of the Product Profile.
Installation, Use & Maintenance

221. Why does it matter if machinery is required for installation?

Many Production & Manufacture questions address the "embodied energy" of a product, or the energy associated with the product in its creation. The concept of "embodied energy" also applies to the product after production, in the energy required to maintain a useful product (Installation and Maintenance). A building material may have low embodied energy coming out of production, but then require a great deal more energy to install and/or maintain than a similar material that has a high embodied energy from production but comes "ready-to-use" with little or no maintenance required (e.g., traditional wood roof joists versus pre-fabricated trusses).
End of Product Life

241. What is the difference between "biodegradable" and "compostable"?
A "biodegradable" material can be decomposed by the action of microbes, such as bacteria and fungi, into basic elements or compounds where it is considered "food" for another living organism. Most manufactured products biodegrade slowly, if at all, and emit toxic substances throughout the decomposition process - the reason Green Building Pages differentiates between "biodegradable" and "non-toxic biodegradable". These same microbes can also decompose a "compostable" material, and release nutrients and organic matter back into the earth; the material could theoretically be composted for garden soil. Something "compostable" is biodegradable by definition, however biodegradable does not necessarily mean "compostable".
Testing & Certifications

261. Do all testing results and documentation have to be available to the public?

Yes. The system must be transparent, to allow consumers to make informed decisions as they choose.


262. What does "cruelty-free" mean?

In general, "cruelty-free" is a marketing claim used along with "not tested on animals" or "no animal testing" to suggest that no animals have suffered in the process of bringing a product to market. Green Building Pages defines "cruelty-free" specifically to mean that no tests or processes required for the manufacture or marketing of a particular product, its inputs or by-products, involve animals (live or dead), or animal by-products for which the animal is killed.
Company Profile

281. What if a company uses manufacturing facilities in other countries where OSHA standards do not apply?

Green Building Pages uses OSHA as the universal standard for facilities safety maintenance as a common denominator, against which all companies are evaluated, regardless of the location of the facilities. Even if the manufacturing facility is not located in the U.S. and therefore not legally bound to OSHA standards, this question must be answered based on how the facility measures up to OSHA standards [].


282. What is the difference between "community involvement" and "charitable giving"?

"Community involvement" refers to participation in or development of community events or groups - forums for community action or education in the form of workshops, lectures, etc. "Charitable giving" refers to time or money donated to non-profit organizations. Time or money donated to local non-profits may be counted under either of the two categories, but not both.
Using the Manufacturers Website


301. What is the "manufacturers website"?

The "manufacturers website" on Green Building Pages is where representatives of product manufacturers may enter company and product information in order to be included in the Green Building Pages.


302. Who can register?

Any company may register with Green Building Pages via a Primary Contact Person (PCP) [#33]. The PCP must be the company representative with the authority to submit, review and authorize publication of company and product information on the Green Building Pages website.


303. How can a company register?

From the Manufacturer's Login, click on "Register Now". You will be asked to provide basic information about your company before being logged into your new company account. A username and password will be e-mailed automatically to the e-mail address provided - it should arrive immediately to your inbox. There is no fee for registering with Green Building Pages.


304. What if I register my company and then decide not to use Green Building Pages?

Registration is free, so if you register and later decide not to continue with Green Building Pages, there is no charge. An account will automatically be removed after one year of inactivity. To remove your account prior to the one-year limit, send an e-mail requesting account removal to Include your company's name and address, as well as your name (as PCP), telephone number and mailing address. No information is published without authorization of the Primary Contact Person.


305. Who is the Primary Contact Person? Can the Primary Contact Person be changed?

The Primary Contact Person (PCP) is the company representative with whom Green Building Pages will correspond. The PCP must have the authority to submit, review and authorize publication of company and product information. The PCP contact information will not be made public and will only be used for GBP correspondence. Only the current PCP may change the PCP information, including the name, e-mail address, username, and password. This may be done from within the company account, under the "Account Information" menu.


306. Who is the Public Contact Person?

The Public Contact Person is the company representative whose contact information will be made public via the published Product Page. This person should have the ability to answer or field questions coming from potential consumers using the Green Building Pages.


307. How can I block certain users' access to information on the company's Green Building Pages account?

The PCP [#33] (and only the PCP) may control additional users' access when they log into the company's GBP account by setting access privileges or "permissions" for each user. To access the permissions settings for each company user, open the "Account Information" menu from within the company account and click on "User Administration". A list of all registered company users and their access privileges will appear.


308. Why can't I access certain information about my company or product?

Most likely, you are an "additional user" authorized by the PCP [#33] to have access to your company's Green Building Pages account. Additional users are authorized or denied access to certain account information as determined by the PCP. You should contact your company's PCP regarding access privileges. If you are the PCP or otherwise given "Administrator" privileges by the PCP, and still cannot access certain areas of your account, please e-mail GBP's tech support at


309. How is information that I enter on this website saved? Is it secure?

Green Building Pages only displays to the public information that has been approved for publication by the company PCP. Other users may change data on the profiles, and Green Building Pages will track and maintain those changes, but they will not be displayed to the public until approved by the company PCP. Additionally, many changes to profiles require additional review by Green Building Pages staff.

310. How often may I update my company and/or product information?

You may update and add new information on the database at any time. However, newly saved information or changes may not be immediately accessible by consumers (see above [#37]). Changes made to certain information will require a GBP Evaluation, while other information will not. Therefore, there are two timescales to consider when updating information. The following items may be updated at any time, and will be processed and updated on the public read-only database as quickly as possible:

·  All company contact information, including URL's, Public Contact Person information, HQ address
·  All distributor information, including adding new distributors and removing old distributors
·  Product name (for currently published products)
·  Product image
·  Product description
·  Product-specific URL
·  Product CSI category
·  LEED Credit Opportunities
All other items require a GBP Evaluation and more extensive review prior to publication. Changes to these items will be evaluated and updated on the public database once per quarter.


311. I've saved all the information I have on my product. How do I get it published on the public Green Building Pages website?

Product information that is ready to be published must be submitted to Green Building Pages. Click on the "Submit Profiles" button to see a list of profiles that are eligible for submittal (there is a minimum of information [#14] that must be provided before a profile is eligible). Submitting the profile notifies Green Building Pages that information is either ready for evaluation or ready to be updated without evaluation [#38]. All information will be published after written approval of the PCP and due payment is received.


312. How do I remove a product from the Green Building Pages?

A product that has not been submitted for publication may be easily removed by clicking on "Delete Product" from the Products menu. A product that is already published on the public database may be removed by written request from the PCP. Green Building Pages will process the request upon receipt. Mail requests to: Green Building Pages, 1350 Marsh Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401.
Using the Public Website


401. What is the "public website"?

The "public website" is the consumer-side, free-access website at Information on the public website can be accessed by anyone, anywhere, but edited only by Green Building Pages. There is also the "manufacturers website", which is a login site where registered manufacturers may enter and edit company and product information prior to publication.


402. How do I search for a product or a manufacturer?

There are several ways to search for a product on Green Building Pages:

·  From the Welcome page, you may enter a name, keyword, manufacturer, or CSI number in the Quick-Find field.
·  For more extensive search options, click on "Search" on the Green Products page. Using this option, you may control how specific or generalized your search results will be.
·  From the Green Products page, click on a CSI category to browse all products listed under that category.
In the first two search options, a list of products meeting your search criteria will be generated for you.


403. What are CSI categories?

CSI stands for Construction Specification Institute [], an organization that has developed an industry standard for organizing and specifying the thousands of different types of building materials used in construction. The 5-digit sequence begins with the 2-digit division number (01thru16), followed by a 3-digit nesting category number, meaning the first digit denotes a more general category than the last.


404. What if the product I'm looking for isn't listed?

Because our website charges manufacturers for their product listing, not all products will be listed on our website. We periodically advertise Green Building Pages to manufacturers at conferences and via e-mail, so if you would like to see a particular product on Green Building Pages, please let us know. Send us an e-mail with your name and ZIP code (so we know roughly where you are coming from), and everything you know about the product so that we may identify the manufacturer and contact them. Your name and e-mail will not be added or sold to any mailing list.


405. How do I find a sustainable design organization?

On the Links & Resources page, there is a list of categories on the left-hand side. Click on "Sustainable Design Organizations". The links will soon be searchable by organization name, website, and keywords.


406. May I link my sustainability-related organization or business to Green Building Pages?

Yes! We just ask that you let us know if you are linking to our website from yours, so we may keep track of our web exposure. The GBP logo and all contents of the GBP are copyrighted. We provide logos and text you can use on your site to link to ours in the Links & Resources section. If you would like your organization included in GBP's Links & Resources, e-mail a request to Include the name of the organization, a short description or mission statement, the name of the contact person, an e-mail address and URL.


407. I'm the owner/builder/designer of a sustainable building project. Will Green Building Pages include it in the Case Studies database?

Green Building Pages is happy to research a sustainable building project and consider it for inclusion in our case studies database. E-mail your request to us at Include the name of the building project and its location, the client's name, the architect or designer, the name and e-mail of the contact person (it could be the owner, architect, contractor, or a third party), and an explanation of why it is a case study for sustainable building. You may also include a URL if the project has a website, or an image of the project, finished or under construction. Permission for use on the Green Building Pages website must accompany any image sent.




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