For architects and industrial designers, finding sustainable materials to use in building projects has long been a challenge, with providers and information scattered all across the web. Ecolect, which just launched last fall, aims to provide a single, central library of sustainable materials that makes it easier for designers to be “green.” Rhode Island-based Ecolect, which was founded by two Rhode Island School of Design graduates, hopes to save designers time and money by answering three important questions: where to find sustainable materials, what makes them sustainable, and who else is using them and how. Toward that end, the site features materials with sustainable attributes—eco paints and bamboo flooring, for example—complemented by content that stimulates discussion about sustainability. Case studies illustrate the successful use of sustainable design, and users can contribute reviews and images of materials in use. The site’s blog, meanwhile, discusses how ecology affects the world. Ad-supported Ecolect is free for users. “We saw a unique and unmet need in the marketplace,” explains Matt Grigsby, one of the site’s cofounders. “From there, we set out to not only create the world’s first free and accessible sustainable materials library, but also build a tight-knit global community, where individuals from around the world can go to learn and connect around the issue of sustainable design.” Grigsby won last year’s Rhode Island Innovation Awards Rising Star Innovator title for his role in developing Ecolect, and the company itself has been named a finalist in the 2008 SXSW Web Awards, the winner of which will be named next month. The trend toward sustainability isn’t going away anytime soon, so the opportunities are many in supporting and informing those who make it happen. Since the distribution of building materials varies widely by country/region, this is definitely one to set up in your own neck of the woods. Or how about applying the concept to other industries? Spotted by: Mark M.