Environmental Building News (EBN) is to the greening of the building industry as Consumer Reports is to consumer product performance ratings. Like Consumer Reports, the popular monthly newsletter accepts no advertising.

EBN also publishes the GreenSpec Binder: Authoritative Information on Environmentally Responsible Building Design and Construction, a Product Directory with Manufacturers' Literature. The latest edition has information on more than 1,500 products. Subscribers also get access to password-protected online links that offer to adapt guideline specifications to their own building projects.

There are shades of green in green building. As engineer Al Nichols says, you can be lime green, forest green, or British racing green. The directory lists the pros and cons of materials by category. For fiber-cement siding, the directory reports: "1. Durable: fire- and insect-proof (conserves resources); 2. Made from abundant resources (conserves scarce resources); 3. Nontoxic (minimizes pollution)." As for problems, the directory sites the high-embodied energy costs of producing some of the raw manufacturing materials, brittleness, and potential problems from improper sealing. It also notes the product's 50-year warranty. Specific product listings provide manufacturers' addresses, telephone numbers, and Web sites.

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