At the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, we found 10 of the most impressive green products that will positively impact the way you build.
Kirei is a composite board made primarily from reclaimed stalks of the sorghum plant (harvest mostly in China). The board has a striking color and pattern and a wide range of uses, including furniture, cabinetry, and flooring.
Adjacent to Kirei was PaperStone, a truly cool product that’s best for countertops or decorative wallboard. PaperStone uses post-consumer recycled paper and petroleum-free resin (sometimes made from cashew nut shell liquid), to create a hard, durable board with a subtle matte texture. The company offers an “original” product that’s 50% recycled paper, as well as a “certified” product that uses 100% recycled paper and meets about every possible green industry standard.
Plyboo (bamboo plywood from Smith & Fong) has been around since 1996, and it’s still one of the hottest eco-products out there.
The plywood is made from strips of rapidly renewable Moso bamboo grown mostly in China. Unlike typical plywood, Plyboo is pretty enough to show off. It’s used for cabinetry, wallboard, and furniture.
Made from clay and other natural pigments, American Clay looks like adobe or palazzo. I would love to cover the entire interior of my house with this stuff. Unlike natural paints, this is really a plaster, so it has an earthy texture. It comes in three finishes: Loma (smooth, soft, and matte), Porcelina (more polished), and Marittino (dimensional because of added seashell aggregate).
An “artisan/applicator” demonstrates the application of American Clay. He mixes the natural pigments with water and applies it directly to the drywall board. The natural plaster can be applied directly to most surfaces, including masonry, stucco, plasterboard, or gypsum drywall.
Living roof vendors seemed to be down every aisle at Greenbuild; this one is Rana Creek from California. Though living roofs are mostly used for commercial buildings, everyone interested in green building should know about them.
What is a living roof?
The basic gist is that plants grown on the roof catch and filter rainwater, prohibiting it from running directly into the storm sewer system. They’re great for urban environments where flooding and runoff from over-capacity storm sewers can be a real environmental problem.
These plants, grown in shallow planters, show what a green roof should look like and how it can grow.
Unglazed porcelain tiles and mosaics blend natural and contemporary aesthetics. They feel so smooth and the colors are so beautiful, I couldn’t stop touching them or taking pictures. The company that makes the tiles, CoveringsEtc, also makes ECO-TERR terrazzo tiles and slabs and BIO-GLASS surfaces.
Focusing on dimmer switches, Lutron has a strong eco-story to tell. Since their inception, the dimmer switches have drastically reduced electricty consumption, resulting in energy and cost savings.
A Greenbuild attendee examines a slab of EnviroGLAS that has round pieces of green glass imbedded in natural-looking beige resin. Think about this material for flooring, countertops, and even in outdoor landscaping.
Signs hanging from the Milliken Carpet virtual tree point to some of the company’s sustainability practices, such as using certified materials. Their biggest message is about zero waste. Because they reuse and recycle pretty much everything, the company has recorded a remarkable feat of zero waste to the landfill since 1999.
In the Sloan Graywater System, water draining from the sink is captured in a holding tank, where it’s minimally treated with chlorine tablets, and then reused throughout the house in the toilets. When a toilet is flushed in the house, the graywater is pumped from the holding tank to fill up the flush tank.
With an extensive recycling program and commitment to new green technologies, Mohawk Industries uses corn in the manufacturing of some of its yarns. In addition to using recycled carpet to make new carpet, Mohawk also uses recycled plastic bottles.
This exhibit displays one of the most important themes of green building: recycling.
The greenest manufacturing practices are called “closed loop” or “cradle-to-cradle,” meaning that materials such as carpet are recycled, and then made into new carpet that itself can be recycled in the future. The goal is to put no new materials into the system.
This year's Greenbuild International Conference and Expo will be held November 19–21, 2008, in Boston. Find out more about the upcoming 2008 Greenbuild.