One of the tenets of green building emphasizes the importance of integrating the elements of siting, design, product selection, and construction practices using a wholistic process. Green homes are more than the individual products used to build them, we are reminded. And I couldn’t agree more.

But even the most advanced green architects, builders, and remodelers reach the point in an integrated process where it comes down to the products, where it’s all about specifying the brand and model number for dozens of individual components that together will meet the overall performance goals of an ecohome. For every category, the question that always needs an answer is “What product should I use for this project?”

There haven’t always been a lot of good options for green specs, or a lot of reliable sources of information to help you choose, but this is changing more and more. With a greater awareness of true green characteristics, new products are emerging in every category that raise the levels of performance and sustainability, manufactured by companies of all sizes intent on reaching green markets.

We see it every day in the flow of new products that reach us at EcoHome, stand out in the green-built homes we visit, or catch our eye at industry trade shows where increasingly more sustainable building products are filling exhibit halls.

So to acknowledge the real growth and meaningful progress we’ve witnessed in new products for green building, we’ve established EcoHome’s Editors’ Choice Awards. This designation recognizes 11 of the most notable products of the hundreds we’ve seen during the past year, those that we think can help you achieve the green building goals of your homes.

As you’ll see in our awards coverage on page 34, we looked for innovative performance within a wide range of categories, as well as creative design and sustainability in manufacturing. These winners bring high performance, resource efficiency, and elegance into the expanding universe of green products that is making product selection easier every day.

We are working through a tough period in our industry—unprecedented challenges face us all. But for those of us committed to leading the industry into a greener future, it also is an exciting time filled with opportunities. That’s because we’re at a historic crossroads where the direction we choose for the homes we build and remodel, as an industry, can either help or hinder critical progress in reducing carbon emissions and stemming climate change.

One of the pioneering voices in all of this is Santa Fe, N.M., architect Edward Mazria, who established and leads the Architecture 2030 initiative to guide the building industry toward carbon-neutral performance by 2030. Buildings, Mazria argues, consume more energy and contribute more to carbon emissions than any other source, including automobiles. And because we have the technologies at hand to immediately and significantly improve building performance, he says the building industry holds the only set of keys to reduce and zero-out carbon emissions in time to stem the effects of climate change. That is a tall order, and should put our work into a clearer perspective. It also makes a strong case for continued innovation in green products and deeper commitments across the board.