At the 2016 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo held October 5-7 in Los Angeles, Brent Ehrlich, products and materials specialist at BuildingGreen, Inc., presented the company’s 15th annual selection of green products that have the potential to change the way we build homes, infrastructure, and communities to better serve the environment around us. The Vermont-based resource provides guidance for builders and designers on green projects and evaluates products for sustainability.
The list touched on numerous aspects of the building process, from conserving electricity to reducing construction waste to replacing traditional materials with healthy alternatives. Here, we’ve put a spotlight on seven of the list’s products that are game-changers in the realm of residential home building and go beyond just "business as usual".
Accoya Acetylated Wood
This Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified pine undergoes a process called acetylation, which uses what is essentially really strong vinegar, heat, and pressure to change the naturally occurring hydroxyls in the wood into stable acetyl groups. Hydroxls are what cause shrinkage and swelling in the material over time. The resulting wood is ultra-durable and resistant to natural elements, stable, insect and pest repellent, and moisture resistant. It will not absorb water or swell or shrink like typical woods, and is chemical free.
Securock ExoAir 430
This factory applied weather barrier combines Securock’s fiberglass faced sheathing and Tremco weather barrier sealant to protect building materials from air and water leakage. While traditional weather barriers are often exposed to the elements, such as air and moisture, and require near perfect conditions to be applied, the Securock barrier is applied in the factory and arrives on site ready-to-go. Not only is it more effective than traditional weather barriers, but it allows for faster installation and reduces jobsite waste.
Aquion Low Toxicity Battery
This saltwater battery uses non-hazardous sodium sulfate electrolyte instead of the common lithium ion or lead acid found in typical batteries, which can be composed of toxins and sometimes flammable. The simple, durable, low-tech residential S-line model eliminates grid-tied PVC wiring, a system that can be vulnerable to power outages due to lack of backups, and instead uses Cradle-to-Cradle certified bronze. Though Ehrlich points out that the product does have its downsides; it’s currently bulky and slightly expensive, but the cost is expected to come down soon.
Nextek Power Hub Driver
This all-in-one AC to DC power converter uses solar energy, batteries, and other renewable energy sources to convert power currents in an efficient way and optimize the benefits of using direct current (DC) as opposed to alternating current (AC). Most of our devices now use a DC current, which requires electricity to first be converted from AC—a costly and wasteful process that compromises the efficiency of the device it’s powering. This power hub has 16 low-volt channels which each carry 100 watts of power. The set up also allows for dimming when used to power a lighting system, which eliminates drivers on LED systems and extends the life of the bulb.
HyperPure Water Piping
HyperPure water piping is a flexible potable water pipe made from bi-modal polyethylene. It does everything that copper, PVC, and PEX can do (and uses the same fittings as PEX for installation), without the negative environmental side effects. HyperPure piping is recyclable, cost-effective, and leaves no chemical tastes in the water.
Standard textiles can be harmful to the environment and create excessive dye runoff into rivers which contaminates water. While this isn’t a product per say, this database allows users to search through more than 8,000 certified sustainable textile materials based on specific criteria, including everything from specific certifications, chemicals, logistics, or optimized chemistry.
d-Rain Joint Rainwater Filter Drain
It can be tricky to implement water drainage systems to control storm water runoff on the jobsite, not to mention costly, wasteful, and inefficient. The d-Rain system provides a simple, low-cost system that manages runoff in a better way than traditional irrigation systems with a 5 gallon per minute flow. A built-in replaceable filter also captures sediments in the water.