Green Building 101: Originate’s Natural Material Showroom

June 26, 2011

A locally sourced place for customers and clients to go to purchase a large variety of natural materials, consult experts and experience ‘green’ materials first hand is Originate. This is a natural building materials’ showroom located in Tucson, Arizona.

“Originate specializes in interior finishes that are environmentally friendly, non-toxic, durable, and made from natural and renewable resources.”


Flooring and Interior Finishes

Originate opened in October 2003 and their staff is trained in multiple disciplines: Architecture, construction and Interior Design. They also have a LEED AP in New Construction on staff, just in case you are looking to have your project become LEED certified and have any questions.


Their showroom also includes a library with books about natural materials, sustainable building methods, and also a list of local architects, contractors, and designers that base their business on green practices and/or use natural materials in construction.

They exhibit many natural materials from many different manufacturers under the categories:

  • Countertops and Tiles
  • Flooring
  • Building Materials
  • Paint, Plaster and Pigments
  • Stains, Sealers and Finishes
  • Water
  • Energy
  • Décor and Hardware
  • Salvaged Materials

The options in designing using green materials are unlimited and having them conveniently in one showroom is very beneficial.

Oceanside Glass Tile Kitchen design


Some of the choices that the clients and customers have are that in the countertop and tile area visitors can find countertops that are 50-100 percent recycled paper resin based, 60 percent aluminum scrap metal materials, recycled glass tiles and pure natural materials such as slate, limestone, quartzite and bamboo. They may also wish to purchase tiles made from 70 percent recycled windshield glass.

In the flooring department, one can find bamboo, cork, natural linoleum, managed certified wood, salvaged wood and wool carpet to choose from.

As far as building materials, paint, plaster, pigments, stains, sealers and finishes go consumers can choose between plywood, paneling, insulation, interior and exterior stains, cleaning and preparation supplies, and adhesives and caulking all naturally produced with low VOCs and no harmful chemicals.

Under the water and energy categories, products such as dual-flush toilets, ShowerStart Technology shower systems and 90-100 percent recycled aluminum and bronze fixtures that source LEDs for light can be found.


Eco-friendly brooms

Décor and hardware products can be found in 100 percent recycled glass, 100 percent hemp and hemp-blend textiles to even brooms and dustpans that are made from 100 percent renewable sorghum and bamboo dyed with non-toxic coloring additives. Sorghum is a number of natural grasses grown in warm climates previously used primarily for grain and food but now it is being cultivated as bamboo is for construction materials. It can be re-grown quickly and can withstand harsh climate conditions, including drought.


If shoppers are looking for ‘waste-not, want-not’ re-used products they can visit the salvaged materials area and take home historic doors, hardware, cast iron and porcelain sinks or tubs, etc. and even 50 gallon recycled jojoba barrels used for rainwater harvesting.

Originate’s showroom is truly a treasure for the locals of Tucson, Arizona. They will even order materials to meet clients’ needs that are natural and that they may not currently display. They allow small groups of people and classes to tour the showroom. They will also set up meeting times to come to local business to discuss current building material needs and help answer questions as to what natural and eco-friendly materials are best per client’s projects.


EcoTimber Flooring

Currently their newest product showrooms include:


  • EcoTimber
  • EcoSmart Fire
  • Studio Marler Cabinetry
  • Almada Cork
  • Cheng Concrete
  • Ernest Hemingway Hardwood Flooring
  • Vermont Natural Coatings
  • DuChâteau Flooring

Some of these newest products are as follows:

EcoTimber’s showroom displays their introduction of two new additions to their dyed woven engineered bamboo in gray tones.

EcoSmart Fire spotlights the 15 new additions of fire and cooking units to their collection of ultra efficient indoor/outdoor ranges.

Studio Marler exhibits their customizable systems for kitchens, bathrooms and storage areas. They have 100 percent recycled Arreis fiber-board panels with water based dyes that are environmentally friendly.

Almada Cork Flooring


The final example of materials that can be found at Originate’s Showroom is Cheng Concrete. This company produces a natural water-based formula that is non-toxic and environmentally safe for the care and finish of concrete indoor surfaces.

Many other materials under many common name brands can be found in Originate. Their dedication to giving people multiple choices of products while staying environmentally aware is inspiring.

“Originate functions as a community resource. We enjoy sharing knowledge about natural building materials and making environmentally aware choices during the design and build process.”

Everything they do offer is natural and produced locally which gives hope that someday these products will be mainstream, found in every dwelling, store and business. This is a showroom that doesn’t just highlight materials but highlights a better future in design.

Resources: Originate



Jennifer Shockley

Jennifer is originally from Colorado and has recently moved back from Michigan. She is finishing up her Master’s degree in Architecture. She is currently focusing on urban planning and sustainable design and hopes to gain employment at a design firm specializing in these areas. Jennifer also has writing experience serving as an editor for her school newspaper and college magazine. Jennifer has two cats named Prada and Dior-aptly named after her shoe obsession. You can follow Jennifer on twitter @jenshock81.