Good products and materials  are hard to find — and that’s especially true for green building projects because so many of the products they use are new.

Fortunately there’s GreenSpec. Published by BuildingGreen, Inc., GreenSpec, provides product information and reviews for more than 1,800 environmentally-preferable building products with descriptions, manufacturer information and links to additional resources.

The four product overviews below are from the “Top-10 Green Building Products for 2005,” by the editors of GreenSpec and Environmental Building News (EBN). We selected these four products for their suitability for multifamily construction and are sharing them courtesy of GreenSpec and EBN.

GreenSpec is available by subscription at For pricing information, contact the product makers listed below.

PureBond Hardwood Plywood and Agrifiber-Core Panels from Columbia Forest Products

Columbia Forest Products, the largest North American manufacturer of hardwood plywood, announced this year a transition to soy-based binders for all of its veneer-core and veneered agrifiber-core panel products.

The company's PureBond panels use the soy-based binder in place of the industry-standard urea-formaldehyde, which is known to produce significant emissions of formaldehyde. (Formaldehyde was reclassified in 2004 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer from a "probable human carcinogen" to a "known human carcinogen.")

The new binder, developed by scientists at Oregon State University, is 87% soy protein, with the remainder a proprietary petrochemical-based polyamide resin. The new binder is water-based, non-flammable, and nontoxic; water vapor is the only emission during curing, according to Steve Pung of Columbia Forest Products.

The switch to this binder has had no effect on product pricing, and all Columbia Forest Products manufacturing facilities are expected to complete this conversion during 2006. The company's agrifiber-core panels are made from straw, a waste agricultural product, and among the wood veneers offered are those that are certified according to Forest Stewardship Council standards.

What makes this product green?

  • Rapidly renewable product
  • Releases minimal pollutants
  • Agricultural waste material
  • Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design –(LEED) Credit relevance:

  • Materials and resources  credit six: rapidly renewable materials
  • Materials and resources  credit seven: certified wood
  • Indoor air quality credit 4: low-emitting materials

Product information:

Columbia Forest Products

222 SW Columbia, Suite 1575

Portland, OR 97201

Toll-free: 800-547-4261

Fax: 503-224-5294

Stonescape Polymer Composition Tile from American Biltrite Canada

Stonescape, from American Biltrite Canada, is a brand-new, polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-free alternative to vinyl composition tile (VCT). This resilient flooring tile is made from limestone and ethylene acrylic polymers.

Along with being free of PVC, the tile is free of other halogens and plasticizers, and it emits no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It is also a much harder material than VCT (2,000 pounds per square inch [psi] vs. less that 300 psi for most VCT) that will require far less regular surface treatment (stripping and waxing) than VCT, according to the manufacturer; this will result in lower VOC emissions.

As a new product, Stonescape has little track record to date, though the manufacturer said an initial year-long test installation has apparently been very successful.

What makes this product green?

  • Alternatives to polyvinyl chloride

Product information:

American Biltrite Canada, Ltd.

440-B Britannia Road East

Mississauga, Ontario L4Z 1X9

Phone: 905-507-2400

Fax: 905-507-2388

Aquia Dual-Flush Toilet from TOTO

Toto has long been a leader in high-performance, low-flush toilets. In 2005, the company introduced its Aquia dual-flush toilet to the North American market.

Dual-flush toilets, long popular in Australia, Western Europe, and East Asia, offer two flush options: a standard flush for solid wastes and a lower-volume flush for liquid wastes and paper. The Aquia toilet, a top-selling product in Thailand where it is manufactured, uses 1.6 gallons at the full flush and 0.9 gallons at the low flush.

The company estimates that a typical family of four will save approximately 7,000 gallons of water per year with this toilet, compared with a standard 1.6 gallon-per-flush toilet. In terms of flush performance, the toilet successfully removes 800 grams of material at full flush, based on standardized Maximum Performance tests, according to Environmental Building News. The toilet is offered in six colors.

What makes this product green?

  • Conserves water

LEED Credit relevance:

  • Water efficiency credit  two: innovative wastewatertechnologies
  • Water efficiency credit three: water use reduction

Product information:

Toto USA, Inc.

1155 Southern Road

Morrow, GA 30260

Phone: 770-282-8686

Fax: 770-282-8697

UltimateAir RecoupAerator 200DX Energy-Recovery Ventilator from Stirling Technology

Energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) replace stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air, transferring heat and humidity from the exhaust air to the incoming fresh air.

Stirling Technology, Inc., brought ERV design to a new level of controllability and efficiency with the introduction of its UltimateAir RecoupAerator 200DX system. The brushless, variable-speed, electronically commutated permanent-magnet  motor allows the 200DX to deliver 50 to 200 cubic feet per minute of airflow very efficiently, even at low flow rates. It also achieves very high heat-recovery efficiency of up to 96%.

Optional features include an economizer module that provides free cooling when outdoor conditions permit, a CO2 sensor for boosting airflow during periods of high occupancy, an automatic pressure sensor that adjusts airflow to maintain a user-set differential pressure, and an integrated high efficiency particulate air filtration module.

What makes this product green?

  • Uses energy efficiently
  • Blocks introduction and spread of pollutants
  • Removes indoor pollutants

LEED Credit relevance:

  • Energy and atmosphere credit one: optimize energy performance
  • Indoor air quality credit one: CO2 monitoring
  • Indoor air quality credit two: increase ventilation effectiveness
  • Indoor air quality credit seven:  thermal comfort

Product information:

Stirling Technology, Inc.

178 Mill Street

Athens, OH 45701

Phone: 740-594-2277

Toll-free: 800-535-3448

Fax: 740-592-1499

Top-10 Products of 2005

(in alphabetical order)

  • Aquia Dual-Flush Toilet from TOTO USA, Inc.
  • BioNet Erosion-Control Mats from North American Green
  • Enbryten LED and Pendant and Downlighting Luminaires from Permlight Products, Inc.
  • Ice Bear Thermal Energy Storage System from Ice Energy, Inc.
  • PureBond Hardwood Plywood and Agrifiber-Core Panels from Columbia Forest Products
  • Stonescape from American Biltrite Canada, Ltd.
  • UltimateAir RecoupAerator® 200-DX ERV from Stirling Technology, Inc.
  • Uppercut Dual-Flush Flushometer Valve from Sloan Valve Company

Source: GreenSpec, Environmental Building News

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