Category Archives: Materials

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Our Forests & Our Civilization: Interview Series With John Perlin – Part II – Forests Change the World

Welcome to Part II of our interview series with John Perlin on forests. Perlin is author of “A Forest Journey: the Story of Wood and Civilization,” an important book that has now come out in its third edition. Our topic? Our forests and our civilization. Perlin details the place of forests and wood in our civilization’s evolution. In…

Kebony Transforms Traditional Norwegian Home

Kebony house

Kebony, an environmentally safe manufactured wood product, has been used to transform a traditional Norwegian home and bring it to Passive House standards.

Building Materials, Fossil Fuels’ Ugly Cousin

We still live in a time when we do plenty things that are very harmful to our planet. It seems we’re all aware that fossil fuels like oil and coal create a considerable portion of our greenhouse gas pollution. But many people don’t understand that we also do a lot of harm to our planet with…

What Affects the R-Value of a Building?

Doors and windows effect R-value of a building

This is part two of our posts on R-value.  Read the first post to get a definition of R-value and find out what it means to you. Doors and Windows As much as we love, and need, doors and windows, they are not good for a building’s insulation value.  Doors open and close, allowing air…

What Is R-Value and What Does It Mean To You?

R-value of building insulation

What Is R-Value? Simply put, R-value is a measurement of how insulating a building material is, protecting one side from the heat or cold on the other side.  A higher R-value means that a material insulates better than one with a lower value. In order to get an idea of what these values are, here…

New Insulated Concrete Blocks Made From Recycled Styrofoam

BluBloc insulated concrete forms

A new company in Portland, Oregon is gearing up to manufacture large quantities of the latest product in the ICF (insulated concrete forms) world.  BluBloc offers a twist on standard ICF products – it uses recycled styrofoam instead of manufacturing new for use in the forms. BluBloc is 85% recycled polystyrene foam (styrofoam) and 15%…

Green Alternatives to Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation can help save up to 50% in energy costs, protect a building from moisture intrusion, and provide sound insulation.  In addition, it provides two to three times more insulation that traditional fiberglass. However, according to Environmental Working Group, most common spray polyurethane foam insulation contains methylene diphenyl diisocyanate, or MDI, a synthetic chemical…

Flooring May Contain High Levels of Formaldehyde

Cali Bamboo Flooring

In a story that gained national attention last week, it was revealed that certain low-cost Chinese-made laminate flooring products sold by Lumber Liquidators contain a high volume of formaldehyde.  CBS’ 60 Minutes did an investigation and found that the product “may fail to meet health and safety standards, because it contains high levels of formaldehyde, a…

Green Building With Renewable Rice Straw

For every ton of rice that is grown, 500 lbs of rice husks and straw are created. Typically, those husks and straw are burned as waste. But two innovations on opposite sides of the world are changing that. In India, 16-year-old Bisman Deu saw all those rice husks being burned and wondered whether they couldn’t be…

Green Materials Report – Redwood

Redwood deck

This post is part of the Green Materials Report series.  GBE is providing information on various building materials and what makes them green.  Each post focuses on one material.  We will be looking at the ingredients in the material, how it is used, what makes it green, and any green product certifications that it has earned.  We…

High-tech Fiberboard Made from Waste Fiber

There’s a new green building material on the market that is light, strong, and flexible, and can be made into just about any shape, including complex molded shapes, without the need for any glues, harmful chemicals, or toxic ingredients. This material, called ECOR, is a high-strength fiberboard made using only water, heat, fiber, and pressure,…

Carbon Fiber is Architecture’s Lightweight Future

Carbon fiber is a miracle material. It is stronger than steel but weighs 90% less. Anca Trandafirescu and her husband, Glenn Wilcox—both assistant professors of architecture at University of Michigan and principals of Area in Ann Arbor, Mich. have won an award for an impressively strong, 14′ tall design that uses just 30 pounds of carbon…

Cross Laminated Timber Ideal For Urban Buildings

Architect Michael Green of Vancouver is a strong advocate for using engineered wood products like cross laminated timber (CLT) to construct medium to high rise buildings.  His mantra is “The Earth grows our food. The earth can grow our homes. It’s an ethical change that we have to go through.” He says wood sequesters carbon dioxide…