I spent the last several days at the Greenbuild conference learning about new products, meeting some of the best professionals in the field, and sitting in on some great seminars. One of the highlights was learning what well-respected publication BuildingGreen chose as their top products for the year — something I look forward to hearing about every year. All of the chosen products are from the GreenSpec directory and are evaluated on criteria that has been developed over the last 18 years.
Many of the products are alternatives to other items that BuildingGreen percieves as flawed, for one reason or another, within the building field. This list is a great resource for emerging products, or even products that have been around for years, but are just getting noticed eco-friendly qualities. Remember The Rainwater Hog? That made the list in 2008!
• NyloDeck: An alternative to exterior grade pressure/checmical treated decking, NyloDeck is moisture, mold and termite resistant composite decking. The material is made from recycled nylon from the carpet industry bound with water blown polyurethane, is available in two colors and comes with as a wood-embossed surface.
• FOAMGLAS: Foamglas is an inorgainc cellular glass insulation board that is strong, impermeable to water, resistant to termites and rodants and is noncombustible. It can be used for insulating roofs, walls and below-grade applications. Foamglas is a good alternative to similar insulating products such as polystyrene, which is treated with flame retardants and is made with HFC blowing agents.
• Ornilux Bird-Safe Glass: According to BuildingGreen birds colliding with glass the second cause of bird mortality — after habitat destruction. Ornilux glass has a Mikado random stick patterning of UV-reflective coating that is nearly transparent to humans but highly visible to birds. In the US, Ornilux is available through Roeder Windows & Doors as a standard high-efficiency window unit and from NanaWall as an operable glass door/wall unit.
• FSC-Certified Office Furniture by Knoll: All of Knoll's open plan office systems, casegoods and tables now come FSC-certified — standard with no upcharge or additional lead time. The furniture has a no-VOC powder coating and is near 100% recyclable. BuildingGreen notes that Knoll is the only company with this level of commitment to eco-friendly furniture.
• Bensonwood OBPlusWall System: What started out as a timber-frame designer has now shifted into a very different gear of a modular and panelized construction company. Bensonwood has created the OBPlusWall, which is a factory-built panelized wall system. It is well-regarded due to its modularity, care for detail and high insulating and air sealing value.
• Stealth Toilet by Niagra: The Steath is the lowest flow toilet at 0.8gpf — that's less than the 'low' setting on a dual flush toilet! The toilet uses a patented air transfer system to pressurize the bowl’s trapway and is one of the quietest toilets on the market.
• Wilo Stratus Circulation Pump Most circulation pumps are oversized, inefficient and run constantly. The Wilo Stratus is a variable-speed pump that saves pumping energy by varying the flow rate and improves efficiency, so you use less energy is needed to heat the water.
• Halton Heat Recovery Unit: Made by Martin Air Systems, this is a very efficient exhaust system for energy intensive commercial kitchens. The system captures waste heat from kitchens, and either exhausts the heat, or transfers it to pre-heat air or water. It also improves indoor air quality by impinging grease out of the ventilation air stream.
• The XICATO Spot Module: This is and LED alternative to halogen bulbs, and is a component distributed to light fixture manufacturers. It's noted for its unique "remote phosphor" technology and its highly consistent high quality light and color rendering index.
• Electec EZ-Wiring & EZ-Cable: EZ-Wiring is a plug-and-play wiring system that is free of halogens (bromine, chlorine, or fluorine), which are commonly used in cable sheathing, and no heavy metals. The modular system can be used in ceilings, floors, walls, and furniture, and is designed for easy reuse and reconfiguration. The system can contribute to resource and cost savings, easy retrofits, and reduced abandoned cables.
(Images shown above the jump are bold)