Selecting Materials for Outdoor Applications

During this period of working from home, we are all looking for ways to learn more and maintain our continuous professional development. Thankfully, Forms+Surfaces have created an online course for landscape architects and designers that provides some learning about how to select materials for outdoor uses.

Selecting materials and finishes is integral to specifying site furniture products. Yet making material selections has grown more and more complex as the environmental impact of materials has joined more traditional selection criteria like aesthetics, durability and performance.

Today’s landscape architects and designers are responsible for recommending materials that balance these different requirements. While many product options exist, the materials that comprise these products aren’t created equal.

Fortunately, two areas of focus can help guide the selection process:

1) By identifying ways to evaluate materials and select the best options for outdoor applications, the end result is beautiful, durable products—and projects—that adhere to a higher environmental standard.

2) By identifying product suppliers who can help navigate this ever-changing playing field, the better architects and designers can confidently make informed decisions.

This course begins by examining conditions and constraints typical of outdoor environments and their potential impact on materials and products.

Next, a range of materials used in outdoor applications is evaluated against a framework that compares conventional materials with high-performance options.

We then look at green building standards and rating systems and discuss how there’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to material selection.

We go on to review how product suppliers can help architects and designers confidently select materials that meet project-specific sustainability goals.

Finally, the course highlights examples of outdoor products incorporating high-performance materials that balance these diverse criteria while offering tremendous design potential.

Learning Objectives 

At the end of this course you will be able to:

  • Identify conditions and constraints typical of outdoor environments, and understand the potential impact these can have on materials, finishes, and the installed project
  • Evaluate several types of materials appropriate for outdoor applications based on criteria including durability, performance, aesthetics, and environmental impact
  • Recognize leading green building standards and rating systems, and understand the importance of a product supplier’s environmental impact management programs and environmental data collection and reporting practices
  • Cite examples of products that use high-performance materials to balance these diverse challenges while offering tremendous design potential and adhering to a higher environmental standard.

COURSE OPTION 1: Presented in partnership with AEC Daily

Credits: 1.00 HSW  1.00 HSW

Course Format: Powerpoint
Course Outline: This course is a presentation designed to earn you 1 Learning Unit recognized by AIA, LA CES and others. Use the onscreen controls to pace the presentation to your liking, and then click “Click here to take the test” to take the exam for this course and earn your credit.

Find out more about the course at

About Damian Holmes 3233 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at