Green Building News

Green Building News December 2006

December 2, 2006

BuildingGreen Announces 2006 Top-10 Green Building Products

BuildingGreen, Inc., publisher of the GreenSpec® Directory and Environmental Building News™, has announced the 2006 Top-10 Green Building Products. This fifth annual award, announced at the U.S. Green Building Council's Greenbuild Conference in Denver, recognizes the most exciting products drawn from additions to the GreenSpec Directory and coverage in Environmental Building News.

"The range of product types showing exemplary innovation is amazing," noted GreenSpec coeditor Alex Wilson. Three of BuildingGreen's winning products this year have the primary environmental attribute of saving energy. Two products save water. Three products are green in part because they are made from recycled waste; one is a system of salvaging material. Rounding out the list are an innovative way of turning an ordinary material, concrete, into one of the best flooring options for commercial buildings, and a provider of renewable energy credits, an excellent way for any building owner to support renewable energy. "Most of the Top-10 products this year have multiple environmental attributes," said Wilson.

BuildingGreen's Top-10 product selections, as in previous years, are drawn primarily from new additions to the company's GreenSpec product directory. More than 250 product listings have been added to the GreenSpec database during the past year. "New products seem to be appearing at an ever-faster pace," said Wilson. The GreenSpec database his company maintains now includes more than 2,100 product listings. Not all GreenSpec product listings or Top-10 selections are new to the market. "While many of the products we add to GreenSpec are brand new and innovative, others have been around for a while." said Wilson. "In some cases, we like to see evidence of success in the real world before recognizing green products."

A big driver in the development of green products continues to be the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED® Rating System (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which awards points for the use of certain product types or for the energy or water savings that green products can achieve. "Designers of LEED buildings are looking for green products, and manufacturers are responding," said Wilson. In the online version of GreenSpec, users can find products organized by LEED credits.

The 2006 Top-10 Green Building Products are listed below:


Octillion Enters Into Development Agreement For New Solar To Electricity Glass Windows

New nanosilicon photovoltaic solar cell technology could adapt home and office glass windows into ones capable of generating electricity from sunlight without losing significant transparency or requiring major changes in manufacturing infrastructure.

Octillion Corp. has announced that it has entered into a Sponsored Research Agreement with scientists at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign for the development of a new patent-pending technology using nanosilicon photovoltaic solar cells that could convert normal home and office glass windows into ones capable of converting solar energy into electricity. Limited loss of transparency and minimal changes in manufacturing infrastructure are among the advantages envisioned for this new technology.

The technological potential of adapting existing glass windows into ones capable of generating electricity from the sun’s solar energy has been made possible through a ground breaking discovery of an electrochemical and ultrasound process that produces identically sized (1 to 4 nanometers in diameter) highly luminescent nanoparticles of silicon that provide varying wavelengths of photoluminescence with high quantum down conversion efficiency of short wavelengths (50% to 60%).

When thin films of silicon nanoparticles are deposited (sprayed) onto silicon substrates, ultraviolet light is absorbed and converted into electrical current. With appropriate connections, the film acts as nanosilicon photovoltaic solar cells that convert solar radiation to electrical energy.


Wal-Mart Experimental Stores Evaluate Progress After One Year of Operation

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has reviewed early results of various projects at its experimental stores located in McKinney, Texas, and Aurora, Colorado, after one year of operation and is applying new learnings to other Wal-Mart stores and Sam’s Clubs.

“When we conceptualized these two experimental stores, we thought about our environmental opportunities which led our thoughts to our current goals: to be supplied by 100 percent renewable energy, to create zero waste, and to sell products that sustain our resources and environment,” said Charles Zimmerman, vice president of prototype and new format development. “We see these stores as moving in the right direction for a more sustainable future for Wal-Mart. We will continue to lead the way in developing sustainable building and business practices.”

The stores are being evaluated over a three-year period by two government-sponsored laboratories. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory will provide monitoring services for the Aurora, Colorado, store and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory will monitor the McKinney, Texas, store.

“Wal-Mart’s experimental stores should radically change the way retail stores are designed, constructed and managed in relation to the environment,” said Michael Deru of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. “These stores contain technologies that will help Wal-Mart minimize their impact on the environment.”

Already, some of the experimental technologies are proving to be successful. LED lights installed in exterior signs and grocery-, freezer-, and jewelry- cases use less electricity, contribute less heat and have a longer lifespan. Wal-Mart has been using LED lights for all building-mounted exterior lit signs for the last two years and now after 16 months of testing in the experimental stores, Wal-Mart has decided to integrate these lights into freezer cases in new Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores nationwide beginning in January 2007. Other energy efficient lighting opportunities continue to be monitored at the experimental stores.

A portion of the heating for the experimental stores uses recovered cooking and motor oil—burned via a waste oil boiler—to heat water used in a variety of systems throughout the building. Heat recovered from the refrigeration racks also heats water used in the system. One of the systems utilizing waste heat is radiant floor heating in select areas of the building. This system helps keep associates and customers warm even in the freezer section.

Water conservation and waste reduction are also occurring at the experimental stores. Xeriscaping that integrates native, drought-tolerant plants and drip irrigation are visually pleasing and have significantly reduced the amount of water needed for irrigation.

Fly-ash, a by-product from coal-generated electricity, and slag, a by-product of steel manufacturing, have been mixed with traditional concrete, either individually or combined to reduce the amount of raw materials needed for the construction of the facility. These concretes are holding up well at the experimental stores. They have been approved for exterior and building uses. In addition, waste building materials were recycled during the construction of these two stores, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills.

“We still consider these stores to be experiments,” said Don Moseley, special projects engineer. “While a number of the experiments have already proven successful, we will continue to monitor and learn from these stores for the full three-year evaluation period. Rather than waiting for the full evaluation period to lapse, we have already determined a need to accelerate implementation of some technologies for new stores.”

One sustainable objective that still needs additional time and evaluation is renewable power generation, such as wind turbines. Mechanical problems have interfered with consistent and continuous power generation from the wind turbines this year. Wal-Mart hopes to experience improvement in this area soon and will continue with the plan to provide these and eventually other stores with renewable power.


Final call for registration: Building A Sustainable World/The RIBA-USA - December 31

An open competition to develop a concept for a maximum capacity sustainable community or an urban subdivision to address shifts in global climate, that have been so vividly demonstrated by increasing numbers of flooding and drought catastrophes. The community must be “off the grid”, in other words as autonomous and self-sustaining as possible. And, beyond this, we would like to invite you to propose ways of making the community a positive contributor to the natural ecology. Alternative energy solutions need to be fully researched and integrated to identify advantages and to be realistic about risks and disadvantages. Our premise is that the sustainable community should start to reverse environmental damage and not add to it.

Giving something back to the Environment
The community can include new industries, which must be clean and considerate to the quality of life for future generations. We want to create healthy, vibrant, non-toxic communities with a positive relationship, respect and regard for nature and our natural resources.

The competition is open to any individual from any country. However, an entrant who is not an architect, must team up with an accredited (licensed or registered) architect from the locality of the submitted project. We also encourage participants to engage in teamwork with and between architects whether the entrant is a member of the general public, a writer, visionary, movie maker, engineer, city planner, designer or from the construction industry at large. Each entry must name only one person as the representative of the work, who need not be the named architect.

2nd Annual Good Earth Home, Garden & Living Show - January 26-28

Living a more natural, earth friendly life, in a healthier community will be the focus of the 2nd Annual Good Earth Home, Garden & Living Show. The innovative three-day event will be held at the Lane Events Center in Eugene, Oregon.

The Good Earth Show will showcase over 250 exhibits, products and services in seven pavilions: sustainable healthy homes, organic gardens, efficient & alternative transportation, recycling & recyclables, organic food & beverages, wellness & living, and arts & books. New to this year's show will be the Smart Business Pavilion.

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