Material Use

Specifying efficient use of materials and considering their impact from manufacture to disposal.


Manufacturers who have reduced the environmental impacts of their products or services can use ecolabels, under license from an ecolabelling body. Products that carry an ecolabel are likely to be less polluting that some comparative products that do not carry such a label.

Ecolabelling schemes generally use a life cycle assessment approach, often peer-reviewed, but may not do a comprehensive, quantitative LCA study. The criteria used work out where the biggest environmental impacts occur. The criteria are published in specifications whose processes should comply with ISO 14024:2018 Environmental labels and declarations Type I environmental labelling Principles and procedures.

Environmental Choice NZ

New Zealand has one established multi-attribute ecolabel scheme called Environmental Choice New Zealand. Environmental Choice is a type I ecolabel.

Building products included in ECNZ are:

  • floor coverings
  • furniture and fittings
  • gypsum plasterboard
  • laminates and wood panels
  • paints
  • flat and long steel products
  • pre-painted and resin-coated steel products
  • ready mix concrete, pre-cast concrete, concrete products and dry bagged mortars
  • Portland cement and Portland cement blends
  • synthetic carpets
  • reusable plastic products
  • recycled rubber products
  • textiles, skins and leathers
  • thermal building insulants
  • wool and wool-rich pile carpet.

A study by the Global Ecolabelling Network found that specifying ECNZ-verified products can make a significant difference. Among the findings were that use of ECNZ-licensed paint may have helped save around 3,000 tonnes of pollutants being emitted to the air last year, compared to other paints.

The New Zealand Ecolabelling Trust (which administers Environmental Choice New Zealand) has also developed a specification for construction and demolition waste management to help reduce the amount of waste going to landfills.

In Australia, there are several ecolabel schemes, some of which are recognised under a framework developed by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) for materials assessment within its Green Star building environmental rating tool.

The New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) recognises both ECNZ licensed products and those products with ecolabels recognised by the GBCA Framework in the New Zealand version of Green Star.

Updated: 12 July 2022