3-D printing from Lowe's

Lowe’s Offers 3-D Printing Out of Any Material, Including Gold

Lowe’s Innovation Labs is now offering 3-D printing of household hardware items from a Lowe’s-owned Orchard Supply Store in Mountain View, California. While 3-D printing is becoming more commonplace, it takes a certain knowledge to program a printer to create an item. With Lowe’s new system, average homeowners are able to design and print their own ideas, no special knowledge required. Lowe’s service is meant to help customers with no knowledge of 3-D printing create something from scratch or from…

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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 linked to asthma, lung damage and even death. “Because of the chemical’s risks, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has set the maximum legal…

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Cali Bamboo Flooring

Flooring May Contain High Levels of Formaldehyde

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 known cancer causing chemical.” The story goes on to say, “Lumber Liquidators insists its Chinese-made laminate flooring is safe, but it doesn’t appear that way…

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wood beams

Building Material of the Future – Wood?

No, the headline is not a typo. Wood is going to places it’s never been before – up! The T3 project (which stands for “Timber, Technology, and Transit”) in Minnesota will be the tallest wood-framed building in the United States at seven stories. The 210,000 square foot office building is causing a bit of an uproar around the country. “This building is very unique,” Vancouver architect Michael Green says. “It is the first large-scale office building built of timber in…

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PVC pipe

Net Zero Case Study: Bullitt Center – Green Materials

The Bullitt Center in Seattle, Washington, is one of the most self-sufficient buildings on the planet. It is net zero energy and, after the water reuse system is approved by city authorities, net zero water. Net zero means that the building uses the same amount as it creates or generates – it is self-sufficient. In a series of posts here on GBE, we will look at what makes this building tick. Healthy Green Materials The Living Building Challenge requires projects…

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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 put to better use. So she started experimenting in the family kitchen and came up with a material she calls Green Wood. Her creation is…

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Redwood deck

Green Materials Report – Redwood

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 hope to develop a database of information to help consumers make informed choices about what goes in their buildings. Enjoy the series! California Redwood California…

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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, and takes a low-value product (waste fiber) and turns it into a high-value green building material. At its most basic, ECOR, from Noble Environmental, is…

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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 fiber string pre-impregnated with resin. (!) Trandafirescu and Wilcox wanted to see if carbon fiber could be used as a building material in buildings of…

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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 from the atmosphere – about 1 ton of CO2 per cubic meter – and holds it captive during its entire lifetime, even when used as…

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Cradle to Cradle Offers Material Health Certification

Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute recently announced that they will begin offering standalone certifications for building materials based on its Material Health criteria. Material Health is only one of several categories tested during Cradle to Cradle certification, and it addresses the presence of known harmful chemicals in a material. It is the first time Cradle to Cradle has separated a category for certification. Established in 2006, the multi-attribute Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard has been recognized for its…

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Bark House Poplar Bark Panels

Green Materials Report – Wall Coverings

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 hope to develop a database of information to help consumers make informed choices about what goes in their buildings. Enjoy the series!   Wall Coverings…

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Fiberglass Windows Are More Energy Efficient

For making energy efficient windows, fiberglass composites offer many advantages over wood, aluminum and vinyl. Wood warps and rots over time, allowing air infiltration that undermines the insulating power of the glass. Aluminum conducts heat and cold into the interior of buildings. And vinyl can weaken with age leading to a breakdown in insulating power. Fiberglass is 8 times stronger than vinyl. It doesn’t shrink or expand like aluminum and it doesn’t warp like wood. It is also friendly to the…

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Architects admire steel framed house

Pre-Cut Steel Buildings Snap Together Like Legos

The flexibility and simplicity of steel framing systems draws many clients because there are no interior load-bearing walls, so remodeling or reconfiguring rooms when needs change is a snap. “When children leave at 28, you can easily knock down walls. And when they return at 32 you can erect them again,” BONE founder and president Marc Bovet joked (perhaps, inappropriately) about the ease with which his system allows a steel building frame to be reconfigured. Recycled, and recyclable, steel buildings…

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