Top Ten Green Building Products for 2013
As it does every year at the Greenbuild Conference, BuildingGreen Inc. announced the 10 most innovative green products. This year’s selections include software for modeling heat and moisture flow, a method of creating concrete block that sequesters carbon dioxide, a remarkably energy-efficient low-e window coating, an LED streetlight that promises precisely focused delivery of 100 lumens per watt, and other resource-efficient materials and systems for optimum energy and water-management performance. Beyond suggesting specific products for architects to specify, BuildingGreen recognizes these products to show that—through aggressively creative approaches—manufacturers everywhere can provide environmentally sensitive products their customers can source locally.
Announced this past November in San Francisco, the top 10 environmentally innovative products were selected by the editors of Building Green’s GreenSpec and Environmental Building News. The editors looked for products that address natural-disaster resilience, energy efficiency, thoughtful use of materials, and system optimization, notes BuildingGreen founder Alex Wilson.
From Fraunhofer IBP and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, this software models the highly complex transient heat and moisture performance of multi-layer building components under various conditions. WUFI (from the German Wärme und Feuchte Instationär) is PC-based and has been used to test “smart” vapor retarders (those that vary permeability characteristics as humidity and temperature change), assess envelope performance in driving rain, estimate masonry drying time, predict the effectiveness of repairs, and analyze material substitutions.
Atlas CMU Block with CarbonCure
Production of Portland cement is thought to produce 5 percent of the human-generated carbon dioxide globally each year. The CarbonCure system for producing concrete masonry mitigates that by injecting carbon dioxide into the blocks as a curing agent via a specially designed mold. The result is that the product sequesters CO2 in unit’s molecular matrix while also improving strength, reducing the amount of Portland cement required, and speeding curing. The incorporation of post-consumer recycled glass aggregate is another block-manufacturing option.
Amorim Expanded-Cork Boardstock Insulation
As Portuguese cork-growers continue to expand the scope of uses of their sustainable product (which involves periodic harvesting of bark from long-established, biologically diverse cork forests, a process that does not harm the trees). Cork pellets that are steam-expanded and naturally bind to one another in the process have excellent insulation characteristics (R3.6/inch) and do not involve the ozone-damaging flame retardants and blowing agents used in blown-plastics insulation. The resulting slabs also offer excellent acoustic control, are highly durable with moderate vapor permeability, and are fire resistant.
Proglaze ETA Engineered Transition Assemblies
Tremco has matched a complete system of aluminum- and silicone-based sealants, membranes, primers, and flashing (its own products) with insulation and sheathing from other manufacturers to offer an entire 50-100-year integrated building enclosure assembly. The company works with design firms to ensure proper detailing and offers a warranty on air- and water-barrier performance. Air leakage through the assembly is 0.004 cfm/ft2 and water vapor transmission is 2.59 perms. There is no VOC or phthalate content. The aluminum components are 60 percent recycled, 45 percent of which is post-consumer.
This new coating from Cardinal Glass is a sputtered indium tin oxide hard-coat that can be applied to the exposed surface of an insulated glass unit without the typical tinted and pebbled characteristics of those coatings. This clarity allows for an additional low-emissivity coating on the interior of a double-glazed window unit without affecting visibility. The result is low-e performance previously achievable only with a triple-glazed window. The system can provide R5 insulation with light transmittance that allows for solar-gain applications as desired. Already available on tempered glass, the LoE-i89 will be available on all glass types in 2013, replacing the LoE-i81 line of products.
Viridian Reclaimed Wood
The company reclaims a variety of high-grade hard and soft wood from pallets, crates, and packing material collected from the Port of Portland—as well as from local warehouses and school retrofits—and makes flooring, tabletops, paneling, veneers, and more. They heat-treat and kiln-dry the wood without chemicals so that the product is clean and dimensionally stable. To laminate or edge-join their stock, Veridian uses radio-frequency-cured PVA glues and finishes that meet California Air Resources Board standards. The results are a range of FSC-certified reclaimed wood products.
GeoSpring Hybrid Electric Water Heater
Starting in mid-April 2015, water heaters over 55 gallons will have to be twice as efficient as a standard electric-resistance-heated unit. This has spurred a wave of innovation, such as the GE 50-gallon GeoSpring, which, in hybrid mode, has 2.35 times the efficiency of an electric-resistance-only heater and a first-hour capacity of 63 gallons of hot water. With two 4,500-watt elements, the unit has four modes ranging from all-electric-resistance to all-heat-pump water heating. It runs at 55 dB (relatively quiet among hybrid water heaters but louder than a refrigerator) and has a limited 10-year warranty.
Haiku Ceiling Fans
This ceiling-mounted unit by Big Ass Fans uses a brushless, electronically commutated DC motor for increased energy efficiency for both residential and commercial applications. Its 2- to 30-watt ratings significantly exceed Energy Star requirements. The 60-inch-diameter blades come in either a composite material with black or white finish or a hand-finished laminated bamboo in caramel or cocoa. The fans feature LED displays and remote controls and can spin in reverse. The Haiku fan comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
XS-P Series Streetlight
Cree’s XS-P Series LED street and area light incorporates Cree LED light engines and BetaLED’s NanoOptic Precision Delivery Grid optics to focus 100 lumens per watt of either 4000K or 5700K light precisely where needed. They have an optimum payback of three years, functioning life of 100,000 hours, and a five-year warranty. Lights are compatible with dimming drivers. Occupancy sensors, remote monitoring, and other controls are optional.
Cyber Rain Irrigation Controllers
The EPA estimates that more than 3 billion gallons of landscape-irrigation water are wasted every year. As one response, Cyber Rain systems use local weather data (which can be accessed, aptly enough, through cloud computing) along with plant, sprinkler, soil, slope, and sun-exposure data to calculate evapo-transpiration and provide just the right amount of water to maintain the health of different plant species and avoid overwatering. The system can report conditions and be controlled remotely.