32 2 Know Your Materials What materials are in this building? Where did they come from? These simple questions are not always easy for designers, clients, consultants, and contractors to answer. Yet, rethinking material use in buildings is predicated on being able to answer such questions. To re-materialize construction we have to know our materials. And knowing our materials isn’t a simple matter at all. How was the material produced? Who made it, and under what conditions? What by-products were incidentally made along with it? What happened to those by-products? How did the material arrive to the site? How long will it last? Will it behave as predicted or as promised? What can be done with it afterward? Could I eat it? Knowing materials means asking more questions. This is the first step to understanding business as usual, finding alternatives within the present system, and inventing future alternatives.