There are thousands, if not millions, of green building materials and products available today, but they are not all equal. There are varying shades of green, and it’s difficult to determine the “greenest” products. That’s where Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certification can help. It’s considered by many to be today’s most comprehensive environmental product evaluation system. Developed by architect William McDonough and chemist Dr. Michael Braungart, the certification program is administered by their firm, Charlottesville, Va.-based McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry.
The C2C certification process evaluates products on a number of criteria, including the use of safe and healthy materials; design for material reuse and recycling; efficient use of energy and water throughout production; and the implementation of strategies for social responsibility. Products can achieve a silver, gold, or platinum certification. Additionally, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recognizes the value of C2C certification, and under the organization’s LEED program, C2C products can receive credits in the Innovation in Design category. To qualify for the credits, C2C-certified materials must comprise at least 2.5 percent of the total cost of materials, according to USGBC.
“I believe Cradle to Cradle represents the maximum level of green a product can be,” says Kati Curtis, an interior designer with New York-based Nirmada Interior Design. She tries to incorporate C2C-certified products at her multifamily projects.
Curtis says the majority of products and materials certified under the program are appropriate for multifamily buildings. They range from building materials, such as drywall and permeable pavers, to interior products, including sustainable textiles, recycled glass countertops, and PVC-free wall protectors.
1. See-Through Style:
Made from 100 percent recycled glass, Bio-Glass surface material has a variety of uses including countertops, flooring, decorative elements, and dividing walls. It offers a lightly textured, slip-resistant surface, and the layers of compressed glass can be permeated by light. Available in 110-inch-by-49-inch slabs, Bio-Glass is recyclable and has no colorants or other additives. For more information, call Coverings ETC at 305-757-6000 or visit www.coveringsetc.com. 2. No Wet Concrete:
Poured directly into concrete, the Hycrete IntegraTek system protects concrete from water and corrosive salts. It limits water absorption to less than 1 percent and forms a protective coating on steel rebar. IntegraTek can be used for podiums and plaza decks, commercial subgrade walls and slabs, green roofs, parking garages, pools and ornamental fountains, and retaining walls. For more information, call Hycrete at 201-386-8110 or visit www.hycrete.com. 3. Vinyl Free:
For many years, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) has been used to protect walls in multifamily properties. Because PVC has negative impacts on air quality and the environment, Construction Specialties has developed a sustainable alternative to PVC: Acrovyn 3000. This PVC-free wall protection is recyclable, fire-resistant, and meets California’s requirements for indoor air quality. For more information, call Construction Specialties at 800-233-8493 or visit www.c-sgroup.com.
4. Rock On:
Save energy and resources by installing EcoRock, which uses 85 percent less energy to produce than traditional gypsum drywall. Made of 80 percent post-industrial recycled waste, including waste from steel and cement plants, it is fully recyclable. Unlike gypsum, EcoRock may be safely disposed of in landfills if necessary. For more information, call Serious Materials at 800-797-8159 or visit www.seriousmaterials.com. 5. Paver Perks:
Water contamination is a growing problem, especially for multifamily properties with large parking lots. Permeable pavers from Eagle Bay Hardscape Products can help solve the problem by decreasing the impenetrable surface area of parking areas and driveways; controlling water runoff into bays and rivers; refreshing aquifers; and dealing ecologically with roadway contaminants, such as oil and antifreeze. For more information, call Eagle Bay at 800-321-9141 or visit www.eaglebayusa.com.