Green Home Replacements North Pole AK
North Pole, AK
Green Home Replacements
There are few places where the green movement affects us more personally than in the construction of our homes, in the building materials we choose to literally frame our everyday lives. Greenbuilding products and materials can lessen our impact on the environment and result in homes that are safer, healthier and more durable. And as more and more homeowners, as well as builders and architects, seek to make a difference by specifying these materials, a new generation of companies is stepping up with a new generation of eco-friendly options that can do the same jobs cleaner and more efficiently than their predecessors.
For proof, check out these five new products, which are either available now or will be rolling into your local lumberyard or home improvement center sometime in the next few months.
EcoRock, from Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Serious Materials, is a new, greener alternative to standard gypsum drywall, belonging to that genre of quietly revolutionary products with the very real potential to change the world for the better. Drywall production consumes a full one percent of the industrial energy used in the U.S., producing more than 25 billion pounds of carbon dioxide each year. That’s the equivalent emissions of more than two million cars.
Sheet for sheet, EcoRock consumes 91 percent less energy and produces 98 percent fewer carbon dioxide emissions during its manufacture than traditional sheetrock. The manufacturer accomplishes that by completely rethinking the manufacturing process, relying on chemistry and renewable, recyclable materials in place of fossil fuels and mined
“People look at something like drywall and say, ‘Wow, what a vanilla, boring, unsexy product,’” says Steve Weiss of Serious Materials. “But what you come to find out is that there’s an enormous amount of energy required to produce that common building material you see all around you.”
Coming to market in Spring 2008, EcoRock will initially be priced comparable to high-end drywall, though as production increases and energy costs rise, the company expects EcoRock to become less expensive while gypsum drywall gets more expensive. Why choose EcoRock? “We have a product that performs as well or better than gypsum drywall, and it’s eco-friendly,” Weiss says. “Why would you possibly use the old stuff?” For more information: 800-797-8159 or www.seriousmaterials.com .
Drawing inspiration from the Venetian workmen who used recycled marble chips to create the first terrazzo floors, Fuez blends glass, clay, stone and fly ash with cement to create four beautiful and sustainable varieties of countertops, floors and tiles, each containing between 41 and 77 percent recycled material. “It has the appeal visually of granite or marble but it’s more environmentally friendly because it’s not taken out of the ground,” says Greg Martin, president of the Portland, Ore.-based company.
FuezGlass and MicroFuez exploit the gemlike qualities of glass, recovered from post-consumer bottles — including bottles of beverages consumed by Fuez employees — which are broken into pieces and mixed with cement to yield 15 standard colors. Fuez-Stone incorporates clay, polished river rocks and gravel, while FuezCrete mixes in fly ash, a residue recovered from coal-fired power plants. Each product is available in standard tile sizes as well as in custom slabs up to 64 by 128 inches in size, with the exception of FuezCrete, which is available only as tiles.
Pricing, installed, ranges from $80 to $110 per foot, depending on your proximity to Fuez’s Portland headquarters — which, incidentally, recycles its water and draws its power from wind-generated sources. What recourse for faraway Fuez fans? “We can certainly provide it,” Martin says. “We’d love to sell it everywhere, but the greenest situation is not to have to ship it too far.” For more information: 503-289-7000 or www.fuez.com .
There are plenty of problems with traditional concrete. For starters, making a ton of the portland cement that holds concrete together emits a roughly equivalent amount of carbon dioxide — for a total of about 140 million tons last year alone — and a very low percentage of that filler can come from recycled materials.
GigaCrete, a next-generation building material from a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company of the same name, was originally designed to build hurricane-proof homes in the Caribbean. An alternative to concrete construction, it blends bottom ash, recycled from coal-fired power plants, with a non-petroleum-based, non-portland cement. Air is added to the mixture to create light, strong panels that slide easily into place in a framework of steel components for quick onsite construction.
How quick? The company estimates that the shell of a 2,000-square-foot home can be built with six workers in just four or five days. The product is also available as decorative indoor plaster and flooring, and as insulating concrete forms (ICFs).
“If there is a claim to fame for GigaCrete, it’s that we have products with an extraordinary strength-to-weight ratio, and in that way, it’s re-envisioning concrete,” says Luke Pustejovsky, GigaCrete’s vice president of business development.
Since the bottom ash, which makes up 80 percent of the mix by volume, has already been combusted, GigaCrete is “heavily fire resistant,” notes Pustejovsky. The panels, which can be nailed, screwed, stapled, sawed and machined, will come in a single size of 2 by 9 feet with a thickness of 4 1/2 inches. During construction, vertical voids between the panels will help simplify plumbing and electrical installation.
While the final mix is still being worked out, prototypes of the panels have weighed in at just 160 pounds, light enough to move by hand, and Pustejovsky is confident that the finished panels, which will be available direct from the company early in 2008, will be three to four times lighter than standard concrete. For more information: 480-607-6566 or www.gigacrete.com .
Coal-fired power plants, which account for some 55 percent of U.S. energy production, leave behind some 71 million tons of waste fly ash each year. For Henry Liu, a retired professor of civil engineering, this figure smacked of opportunity. “If you take all that fly ash and make it into bricks, you can make more bricks than the whole country needs,” he says.
Using pressure, not heat, as with ordinary clay bricks, Liu developed a way to create 45 million bricks per year from the waste ash of a single power plant, using just 10 percent of the energy required to manufacture traditional clay bricks.
The real trick was formulating the bricks so they would be strong enough to survive the freeze and thaw cycles of North American winters. By using air-entrainment agents to generate millions of tiny bubbles within the bricks, and then curing the bricks under pressure in a steam bath, Liu and his team were able to produce formulations capable of withstanding 50 freeze/thaw cycles and beyond, that being the standard established for clay bricks by ASTM International, a standards development organization.
At present, Liu’s Freight Pipeline Co., based in Columbia, Mo., is licensing the technology to firms in the U.S. and abroad, which should start producing the fly ash bricks by 2009. They will sell for about 20 cents each — roughly half the cost of traditional clay bricks. “I think this would very much be the way to go in the future,” Liu says. “In 10 years, it will be the dominant way to make bricks.” For more information: 573-442-0080 or www.freightpipelinecompany.com .
Polystyrene — that petroleum-based foam so notoriously used in the disposable cups and fast food packaging of yore — is not what typically comes to mind when one thinks of green buildings. But it is precisely polystyrene’s atrocious environmental track record and the difficulty of recycling the material that make Timbron’s mouldings so exceptional.
The moulding, which is designed for use as trim in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and basements, looks and acts like softwood, but it’s made from 90 percent recycled polystyrene, 75 percent of which comes from post-consumer sources. The recycled-material moulding is also waterproof, mold and mildew resistant, and emits no volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
The company estimates that by using plastic instead of wood in the moulding, it prevents 20 trees from being cut down each day. And by using recycled polystyrene, the company notes that it has removed enough plastic from the waste stream — more than 37 million cubic feet so far — to fill the Empire State Building.
“As much as some environmentalists would like to see [polystyrene] disappear, in today’s market that’s just not realistic,” says Heather Gadonniex, Timbron’s sustainability manager. “We’d rather provide a solution to the problem as opposed to just ignoring it completely.”
From its headquarters in Walnut Creek, Calif., Timbron sells seven different profiles (or styles) of moulding, each of which can be cut, nailed, glued, sanded, caulked and painted just like wood. And unlike many products made from post-consumer polystyrene, Timbron moulding itself can be recycled at the end of its life. Starting in 2008, the company will also begin offering chamfer-forming strips for poured concrete from the same durable material. For more information: 925-943-1632 or www.timbron.com .