- Apr 03, 2014
Large-scale green building materials companies seem to be burgeoning in the U.S. green construction market, and it is important to note that often, the greenest building supplies are those that come from vendors near the source of a project. Reclaimed materials such as lumber can be repurposed for a variety of different uses including siding, fencing and flooring, just as chunks of ripped out sidewalk from a municipal project can be re-used as retaining walls or stepping stones for pathways.
While there are possibly thousands of these smaller reclaimed materials companies and manufacturers across the country that are providing products for a multitude of multifamily uses, MHN has compiled a short list of products from slightly larger companies that are contributing to the green construction needs of the multifamily industry while maintaining a strong commitment to the health of the environment.
If hardwood and traditional stone-based tile flooring isn’t an option, consider Forbo’s 100 percent BioBased flooring option, Marmoleum. The linoleum-like product boasts a service life of 30 years and is made from all natural products such as linseed oil, pine resin, wood flour, among other naturally derived biodegradable components that will safely decompose in a landfill. Marmoleum, which is naturally antimicrobial and can withstand heavy traffic, is applicable in a variety of settings ranging from residential to medical, making it a great green product for a host of multifamily flooring options such as community fitness rooms, clubhouses and laundry rooms. Marmoleum is available in pre-cut tiles or sheets and comes in a nearly endless spectrum of colors making it a great option for customizable patterns and in-unit use (www.forbo.com). (fresco blue and dove blue pictured)
While Kirei specializes in a multitude of green products, its Wheatboard product should capture the attention of contractors, finish carpenters and designers looking to bring a green building material into multifamily projects. Wheatboard is a traditional MDF alternative composed of the inedible stalks and chaff byproduct of a wheat harvest that would otherwise be burned or shipped to a landfill. While traditional MDF board, a commonly used substrate in multifamily interior products such as cabinetry, shelving and furniture, is traditionally manufactured with forest-dependent wood products and VOC-emitting adhesives, Wheatboard is produced absent of urea-added formaldehydes in its adhesives (www.kireiusa.com).
Repurposed milk cartons aren’t just for the birds anymore. Des Moines, Iowa-based The ReWall Company came up with a way to repurpose polycoated cartons into a product suitable for many different construction applications. Among the company’s other products, which all include the upcycle of recycled juice and milk boxes, The ReWall Company’s EssentialBoard—a 100-percent recycled content substitute for OSB, plywood and moisture/abuse resistant drywall. EssentialBoard, which contains zero VOCs, has a 10 out of 10 mold resistance rating. While the product is manufactured to withstand moisture- and abuse-challenged areas, users should use the product as they would similar building materials (www.rewallmaterials.com).
For IceStone, sophistication lies in simplicity. The Brooklyn, N.Y.-based company specializes in the fabrication of upscale countertops and surfaces made from three core ingredients: 100 percent recycled glass, Portland cement, and non-toxic pigments. IceStone’s surfaces are manufactured without the use of petroleum-based chemicals or resins and come in a variety of different schemes and patterns that are on par with the elegance of its marble and granite counterparts. Finished IceStone surfaces are UV and scratch resistant, but do require sealing every six to 12 months. Common applications for the product include, but is not limited to, kitchen and bathroom counter tops, back splashes, tables, and desktops (www.icestoneusa.com).
International Mulch Company
Mulch has a variety of uses such as its ability to preserve soil moisture retention or to create aesthetic enhancements at a community. The International Mulch Company’s NuPlay Mulch can do that and more. The product is made from 100 percent recycled rubber and exceeds safety standards set forth by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. NuPlay is 99.9 percent wire free and made from non-toxic EPA-approved environmentally friendly materials that inhibit mold and fungi growth and do not attract pests such as ants and termites, making it an ideal choice for playgrounds and water-saving decorative groundcover (www.internationalmulch.com).
Growing Local Bamboo
Bamboo products are a hit among U.S. consumers due to its rapidly renewable nature, but the truth of bamboo is that the product is primarily grown in Asia and due to transportation requirements, might not be as green as it may seem. The folks at Resource Fiber are aware of this aspect and are already in the development stages of creating an industry alternative to wood- and petroleum-based building materials on U.S. soil.
According to Ann Knight, a co-founder and equity holder in both Resource Fiber and Teragren, a global leader in bamboo manufacturing, “agriculture and manufacturing initiatives have begun in the Black Belt region of Alabama to harness the many uses of bamboo and to try to reinvigorate the region’s economy—one with the highest unemployment rate in the country.”
Resource Fiber has plans to direct and contract the planting of more than 54,000 acres of several species of bamboo in Alabama’s Black Belt, a region noted for its black and fertile soil that encouraged initial settling in the area in the 1820s and 30s, as well as similar regions in the area.
While it may seem like a no-brainer to begin domestic production of bamboo, Knight says that she is not aware of any bamboo farming in the U.S. outside of smaller companies growing for landscaping and ornamental uses.
She says that the agricultural aspect of bamboo farming will help capture significant amount of carbon dioxide in several ways. The first and most obvious is bamboo’s natural ability to convert CO2 into oxygen. Other ways are by developing better methods for the manufacture of durable and non-durable products, find more sustainable industrial uses for bamboo and to look into ways to use bamboo as a source of energy that will displace non-renewable forms of energy.
Knight, who also co-founded Teragren (a separate company with no cross-ownership) with husband and 23-year business partner, David Knight, says that Resource Fiber will become a contract manufacturer for Teragren with products such as bamboo flooring and worktops being domestically manufactured at Resource Fiber’s Alabama facilities as early as 2015. She added that “Made in the USA” bamboo products are “projected to be available by 2019.”
“It’s time to introduce a new profitable cash crop to the portfolio in the U.S.—one already supporting a $15 billion global industry whose products are imported and consumed by millions of Americans—rapidly renewable bamboo,” says David Knight (www.resource-fiber.com).