Innovations that render everyday building materials more sustainable are exciting to follow, but they can be slow going and varied in scale. This week, we’re tracking developments across the industry in this product smorgasbord—from a finish that turns hardwood flooring into a VOC buster to a structural concrete masonry unit containing half the typical amount of cement, and to a slightly-more-sustainable way to manufacture glass-fiber furniture components.
Pure Genius, Lauzon
More manufacturers are developing coatings and materials that purify the air without altering the aesthetics of the substrate. Canadian flooring manufacturer Lauzon designed a proprietary titanium-dioxide finish for interior hardwood floors that it says decomposes bacteria and mold and transforms VOCs such as formaldehyde into water and carbon dioxide when activated by natural and artificial light. The Pure Genius finish resists water and is currently offered on the company’s Authentik red oak and Organik FSC–certified maple flooring collections.
Eames Molded Fiberglass Chair, Herman Miller
The glass-fiber manufacturing process is notorious for its negative contributions to indoor environmental air quality. First produced in glass-fiber by Herman Miller, the 1950 Eames Molded Fiberglass Chair was re-designed in plastic a few decades later. Now, the company is re-releasing the chair in the original material, thanks to a new, no-VOC manufacturing process derived from the automobile industry in which glass-fiber strands are blown onto a screen formed in the shape of the chair’s shell. Fibers that don’t land on the screen are immediately vacuumed out of the air. Heat and pressure are applied to the form, which melts the strands onto the screen. Nine archival colors are offered. Available spring 2014.
Watershed Block, Watershed Materials
Eco-friendly concrete products are few and far between. Among them is a new unit from Watershed Materials made of fused soil and rock fragments, including quartz, feldspar, clay, and other minerals. The hollow-celled blocks each weigh approximately 30 lbs.—up to 15% more than standard concrete blocks but with half the cement content. Slight variation in each unit’s content results in color disparities emulating natural rock forms. The blocks measure 16” long, 8” tall, and 4”, 6”, or 8” deep.
Energi Advisor, Lutron
Determining the right lighting system for a retrofit application can be challenging, particularly if the pre-existing system was already outdated. Lighting-controls manufacturer Lutron developed an iPhone and iPad app to help design teams specify the company’s lighting programs for commercial retrofits. Energi Advisor uses information such as room size, fixture count and type, local utility rates, rebates, and labor rates to generate reports such as a bill of materials, anticipated energy savings and return on investment, and an energy-use audit of an existing system. Users can monitor multiple projects from the app, which is free to download via the iTunes store.
BeveLED Mini, USAI Lighting
As LED luminaires gain market share, their manufacturers are trying to reduce their size while increasing their output. USAI Lighting is growing its line of LED products with a luminaire that offers more than 1,000 lumens from a 1.5”-square aperture. The BeveLED Mini can be specified with the company’s Color Curve Dimming technology, which enables LEDs to range in color temperature from a cool 3500K to a warm 2200K, and with of 10-, 25-, 35-, and 50-degree beam angles in downlight or adjustable options; also offered as a wallwash luminaire. Designed for applications including retail, museum displays, and restaurants.
8” by 8” Standard Paver, Azek
New from decking manufacturer Azek is an 8”-square paver, which provides a larger profile option in hardscape applications. Made from up to 95% post-consumer recycled material derived from tires and plastic, the paver joins the company’s modular series whose components interlock to form a grid. Offered in five colors.