To select greener materials you need to consider the material’s environmental, cost, and performance impacts on your design. A material’s performance depends on its physical properties, and optimizing this is the most important way to reduce your product’s environmental impact.
Energy use often causes the biggest environmental impact for products that consume much energy during their use, like refrigerators and cars. Creating a lighter weight car can save far more energy than reducing the embodied energy of its materials. Likewise, to make a refrigerator or building more energy efficient, you’ll need to have good insulation and optimize heat transfer.
Granta’s CES Selector tool is a full-featured material selection tool that allows materials to be compared with Ashby Diagrams.