Skip to Content
 California Home
Welcome to California - images of Golden Gate Bridge, ocean sunset, waterfall, flowers, and city skyline
DSA Home
Sustainable Design:
Indoor Environment
Quality (IEQ)

Community Matters
Faculty & Student
Case Studies
Training & Workshops
Financing & Incentives
Featured Resources
Calendar of Events
Department of General Services

Division of the Sate Architect

   My CA Search
Flex Your Power!
 The Division of the State Architect's Sustainable Schools Resource
Materials » Recycled Content Materials


Recycled Content Materials

Picture of a green/white classic 3-arrow cycle of 'recycle, reuse, reduce'; picture's cation, 'Specify recycled content materials with high 'postconsumer' content rather than high 'postindustrial' content to encourage the recycling and removal of these wastes from the main waste stream.

Recycled content materials have many applications in school buildings, including steel framing, acoustical ceiling tiles, carpet, insulation, resilient flooring, tiles, and playground surfaces. Using recycled content building products helps convey to students how important it is to be active participants' in protecting our environment. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recycled materials save energy because they require less processing than raw "virgin" materials. By using recycled content products, schools can also help to create and promote the development of recycled materials markets. Students often know about recycling through their participation in collection programs, but to close the "recycling loop", new products must be made from the collected materials and used. The collected materials become new raw materials and can work just as well as their virgin counterpart. Incorporating recycled content products into buildings is a great way to demonstrate the closing of the recycling loop and good environmental stewardship.

When choosing recycled materials, it is important to note whether the materials are "postconsumer" or "post-industrial" products. Postconsumer materials have already entered and been collected from users in the market place. These materials may include recycled glass, plastics, newspaper, etc. Post-industrial materials are those materials that have been collected from manufacturers or industry such as scrap ends of wood or sweepings from factory floors that are then used in the manufacturing of new products. These post-industrial materialshave not yet completed a "useful life", and are a result of factory in-efficiency rather than closing the recycling loop. It is generally considered preferable to use postconsumer content because it is more directly involved in the removal of waste from the waste stream.

Featured Resources

Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS)
(Best Practices Manual Volume 2: Interior Surfaces and Furnishings Section & Building Enclosure and Insulation Section) CHPS aims to facilitate the design of high performance schools in California - environments that are not only resource efficient, but also healthy, comfortable, well lit and contain the amenities needed for a quality education. CHPS has developed a set of Best Practices Manuals (available at to create a new generation of high performance school facilities in California.

California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) - Recycled Content Products (RCP) Directory
The Recycled-Content Products Directory lists thousands of recycled products, as well as manufacturers, distributors, and reprocessors who produce the products or process the materials used to make them.

California Integrated Waste Management Board - Green Building Materials
CIWMB's website provides a discussion and recommendations on material use and choice for sustainable building projects as well as products directories that identify products with environmentally beneficial attributes.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines (CPG)
This website contains information on the CPG and EPA's Recovered Materials Advisory Notices (RMANs), which recommend recycled-content levels for CPG items.

Green Building Resource Guide
The Green Building Resource Guide is a database of over 600 green building materials and products selected specifically for their usefulness to the design and building professions, rather than merely their green material content. You can order the Green Building Resource Guide in two forms: a reference manual or a CD-ROM database.

This site includes a searchable database, called REDI, of more than 1,700 companies that offer green building products. You'll also find information on books, videos, and software related to green building and design, a product gallery of new and interesting products, useful information on sustainable design and construction, and a newsletter filled with ideas for making your building project more energy- and resource-efficient.

Building Green - Green Spec
GreenSpec is BuildingGreen's premiere product information service. It contains detailed listings for more than 1,500 green building products with environmental data, manufacturer information, and links to additional resources.

Back to Top of Page

Conditions of Use | Privacy Policy | Accessibility/Nondiscrimination Policy | Disclaimer