Each month RECORD reviews building product related web sites and blogs that might be of interest to our readership. We visit each site, kick the tires a bit, and share what it is about and how it functions. Please let us know if there is a site you've found particularly useful, well-designed, or easy to navigate. — Rita Catinella Orrell

University of Texas in Austin School of Architecture Materials Lab
As the recession has forced many architecture firms to downsize (or do away with) their in-house materials libraries, a few enterprising organizations have come to the rescue with affordable alternatives. One of the more comprehensive online databases is spearheaded by the University of Texas in Austin’s School of Architecture, whose Materials Lab catalogs more than 25,000 material samples—from ceramics and glass to polymers and sustainable design technologies—accessible not only to students and faculty but also to the general public. For free. The Lab’s matter-of-fact and imminently navigable website organizes materials by categories on its easy-to-scan homepage. Materials can also be searched by form (foam, geotextile, plank, etc.), properties (graffiti resistant, ductile), as well as by process and application. Clarity of presentation, great photography, and helpful specs make up for the fact that not all products are the newest of the new.


Boston Architectural College’s online Sustainable Design Certificate Program
If the imminent arrival of fall has you thinking back-to-school thoughts, be sure to peruse the website of Boston Architectural College’s online Sustainable Design Certificate Program. A partnership with BuildingGreen, the program offers more than 30 courses, which can be audited, taken individually, or taken to count towards a certificate. Although weekly attendance is mandatory, classes do not require you to log in at any set time—a boon for busy professionals inclined to late-night studying. The eight-week fall classes start August 30 (a second session starts October 25) and include Sustainable Design of Healthcare Facilities, Life Cycle Assessment of Building Materials, Energy Modeling in Building Design, and Green Roofs/Green Walls—all taught by an impressive faculty of practitioners and pioneers. Another plus: many courses are approved by the AIA for CEUs.