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BuildingGreen’s Top 10 Products for 2018

BuildingGreen’s team recently announced its 2018 Top 10 Products List, a list that is well respected and one to which I always look forward. I’m particularly excited about the AirFlow Panel and the VersaDry Drywall Track, both of which revolutionize the standard methods of building to make it fundamentally simpler for designers/engineers and builders in terms of specifications and installation.

For the past 16 years, BuildingGreen has recognized a collection of game-changing green products that significantly improve upon standard “business-as-usual” practices. These products help transform the industry by conserving energy and water, reducing emissions, and changing how we approach our building systems and components. This year, many of the products have made a concerted effort in addressing human, material, and environmental health and product ingredient transparency. The Top 10 Winners solve a wide a range of issues:

Architectural Applications’ AirFlow Panels have been tested at the Advanced Facades Test Facility at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California. (Image courtesy Architectural Applications)

Products Addressing Energy

  • Simplifying the chilled beam system: SEMCO’s 3fficiency system combines the company’s Pinnacle dedicated outdoor air supply, Neuton pump control module, and active chilled beams into one easy-to-specify system. Most importantly, the 3fficiency system reduces the chance of condensation, allows up to five control zones, and has a built-in communication system.
  • More than just solar PV carports, canopies and shade structures: SunPower has developed a carport system that is topped with solar photovoltaic panels, but also can incorporate stormwater management, LED lighting, energy storage, and electric vehicle charging. SunPower’s panels are C2C v3.1  Silver (Cradle to Cradle certified) and have a Declare label (Living Building Challenge-compliant).
  • Pushing the boundaries of insulated glass: VIG Technologies and LandGlass have developed LandVac, a new generation of tempered vacuum insulating glass, which uses a proprietary edge-sealing technology that works with tempered glass. LandVac is only 1/3” thick, with a minimum U-value of R-10 and a thermal performance equal to standard triple- and quadruple-glazed windows that are almost 4 inches thick.

The Mount Diablo Unified School District in Contra Costa County, California worked with SunPower to install 12.1 MW of solar carports at 51 campuses to offset approximately 90% of electricity and save an estimate of $220 million over 30 years. (Image courtesy SunPower)

Product Addressing Energy, Health, and Transparency

  • Greening elevators: Thyssenkrupp Elevators is aggressively pursuing energy savings, having created the first net-zero elevator while retrofitting the existing elevator system at the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems in Boston. However, it has also achieved many other accolades: the first elevator manufacturer to have C2C Material Health certificates (C2C Bronze for its elevator cabs and Platinum for its enviromax biodegradable fluid); the first to publish an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) and a Declare label (Living Building Challenge-compliant) for its endura MRL cab, which meets the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Standard Method v1.1 for low indoor emissions.

Grayworks’ Modular Biological Treatment / Graywater System has a four-step reuse process: 1. Screening (lint and hair removal) 2. Biological Treatment (pollutants are degraded by micro-organisms) 3. Filtration + UV (suspended solids removal and disinfection to eliminate pathogens) 4. Chlorine + Dye (chemical storage cabinet). (Image courtesy Grayworks)

Product Addressing Water

  • Simplifying water reuse: Grayworks’ Modular Biological Treatment / Graywater System offers a modular plug-and-play design for water reuse in commercial buildings. Different system sizes can treat anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 gallons of graywater per day, and includes a self-cleaning vortex pre-filter, a proprietary bioreactor to break down pollutants, a filter to remove remaining solids, and ultraviolet light to disinfect the water.

An interior view of the AirFlow Panel installation at the Advanced Facades Test Facility at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California. (Image courtesy Architectural Applications)

Products Addressing Air Quality and Emissions

  • Building panels doubling up as ERV systems: Architectural Applications’ AirFlow Panel is a hybrid building envelope and ventilation component that integrates an insulated, ultra-efficient polymer membrane exchanger in an elegant exterior wall panel. The supply and exhaust airstreams are configured within an AirFlow Panel to transfer heat and humidity passively and efficiently, and can provide 200 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of pre-conditioned air directly to the building perimeter, significantly reducing the size of cooling coils, ducts, or other equipment that would be used in centralized systems. Architectural Applications’ collaborators include: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, ETH-Zurich, National University of Singapore, Oregon State University, ARUP, and Membrane Technology & Research, Inc.
  • Alternative to acrylic latex paint: ROMABIO’s Domus Collection of Mineral Paints and Primers use potassium silicate and offer a solid alternative to acrylic latex and acrylic waterborne paints. The Domus paints are hypoallergenic; have zero VOCs; meet the CDPH Standard Method v1.1; have a Health Product Declaration, C2C Silver v3.1 certification, a Declare label (Living Building Challenge-compliant), and do not have any of the Living Building Challenge Red List chemicals.
  • Now serving formaldehyde-free mineral wool batt insulation: both Roxul AFB evo and Thermafiber Formaldehyde-Free SAFB are the industry’s first light-density, formaldehyde-free mineral wool batt insulation. Using bio-based resins, they are certified UL Formaldehyde Free, Greenguard Gold certified for indoor air quality, have Declare labels (Living Building Challenge-compliant), and contain pre-consumer recycled content. The performance of these batts has not changed.

The winning solution of Humanscale Design Studio’s FLOAT standing office desk is its single lever that allows users to easily adjust the desk’s height. (Photo courtesy Humanscale Design Studio)

Product Addressing Human Health and Ergonomics

  • A better standing desk: Humanscale Design Studio’s FLOAT standing office desk brings effortless operation to traditional sit-stand products. Float’s patented counterbalance mechanism allows users to move effortlessly from sit to stand positions. The Float is Red List-compliant, the first product to be certified as a Living Product by the International Living Future Institute.

Products Addressing Waste and Potential Damage

  • Providing a smart way to install drywall: VersaDry LLC’s patented Drywall Track allows the installation of drywall to sit two inches off the floor on a steel shelf, instead of directly on the floor. This shelf mitigates the potential wear and tear damage and wicking of water, and cuts down on the waste of drywall if the floor to ceiling height doesn’t match the standard drywall heights.

Learn more at BuildingGreen News.

About Mignon O'Young

Mignon O’Young, Editor, is a California licensed architect, LEED Accredited Professional, and Certified Green Building Professional with more than 15 years of experience in the design, construction, green building, and affordable housing development industries.
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