materials


[Originally posted at Jetson Green. This is pretty impressive looking at least at first glance. I haven’t seen a distribution photometric, but it’s supposed to be a pretty broad angle of lighting, unlike some of the early LED bulbs. This is only a 20-watt equivalent, but it won’t be long before there’s a 60-watt equivalent being sold in 4-packs at the big box.]

What can you do if you’d like to use an energy efficient light bulb, but you think that they look funky? How about a LED bulb that looks and functions almost exactly like an incandescent filament bulb?

Panasonic has introduced a clear bulb with a standard base that looks almost identical to an incandescent. It has a warm 2700K light color, similar to an incandescent. It has the lifespan (40,000+ hours) you would expect from an LED. And it only uses 4.4 watts of power, but produces 210 lumens, the light equivalent to a 20-watt incandescent.

This bulb also has a color rendering index (CRI) of 80, which is similar to other LEDs and good CFL bulbs. And, as with other LED bulbs, the bulb contains no mercury.

Read the whole article at Jetson Green.

[Originally posted at JetsonGreen. I really like the attitude of appropriate regionalism this shows; using the available resource. And Preston found a better image (included here) than what I was able to get for the article.]

Colorado has millions of acres of pines throughout its forests that have been killed by an infestation of beetles. New Town Builders, a residential homebuilder in Denver, Colorado, has begun using salvaged wood from these trees for the structural framing of homes it is constructing. The company was approached about building a single demonstration home using wood from lodgepole pine trees which had been killed by themountain pine beetle. New Town found that the wood was discolored but structurally sound and has now begun using the “blue wood” for all of their framing.

[Read the whole article at JetsonGreen.]

[Originally posted on EcoGeek. This seems to be based on a carbon footprint analysis, and there are other metrics that rate ‘green’-ness in other ways, so the argument isn’t as clear-cut (no pun intended) as the headline would suggest.]

Green building advocates and construction product marketers have different views of what the greenest building material is. Different ways of determining what green means will lead to different results. But according to a recent report from the U.S. Forest Service, wood is the greenest building material.

This analysis seems to rest largely on the carbon footprint of various construction materials.

“The argument that somehow non-wood construction materials are ultimately better for carbon emissions than wood products is not supported by our research,” said David Cleaves, the U.S. Forest Service Climate Change Advisor. “Trees removed in an environmentally responsible way allow forests to continue to sequester carbon through new forest growth. Wood products continue to benefit the environment by storing carbon long after the building has been constructed.”

Wood is also unique as a renewable resource that actively sequesters carbon from the atmosphere. As they grow, trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and lock it into the structure of the wood. In doing so, wood is a carbon storage material, and that carbon is locked away until the wood decomposes or burns.

The report additionally recommends that USDA further its outreach efforts to educate the construction industry and the general public to be more aware of the suitability of wood for non-residential construction and to further study of the carbon benefits of the use of wood in construction.

image: CC-SA 2.5 by Andreas Trepte, www.photo-natur.de

via: Architect magazine

I posted an article for Jetson Green on Creatherm: A Simple, Flexible Radiant Slab. I think this is a pretty interesting product. I really admire the flexibility it offers for unusual tubing layout when you want to do something that isn’t strictly on a 6 x 6 wire mesh grid, which typical in-slab installation requires.

It should also be a lot faster to install, since it locks the tubing into place instead of needing to be tied on at regular intervals. I think I’d be less likely to use it on an upper floor instead of a slab, but I would certainly still consider it. But I see a definite advantage to having a single material that provides both under-slab insulation and tubing layout in a single material.

The only downside I see with this is that the tubing is buried further down in the slab, which makes it less responsive and takes longer for the heat to propagate through the slab.

I’m still trying to find out pricing information about it.

Radiant flooring is a popular method for heating a space. Typically, installing a radiant slab on grade has required the time- and labor-intensive process of laying down wire mesh and then tying the tubing to the grid of the mesh to provide an even layout. But using the Creatherm radiant floor panel makes it faster and easier to install radiant tubing, as well as providing an insulation layer beneath the floor.

[Read the whole article at JetsonGreen.]

The ‘Boneyard House’ is a project I came across in a recent Jetson Green article (though I didn’t the article). I really like the approach behind this, as well as the aesthetic of the house. I’ve seen other projects like this, like the ‘Big Dig House’ (which I did write about), where the materials were the starting point, and the plan develops from the available palette.

The exercise of working with constraints and possibilities from a limited set of materials is compelling. I think many architects would relish the possibility of doing a project like this; having to find solutions with a limited number of options is always more compelling than having an open, blank canvas. It’s also wonderful to find uses for perfectly good materials that would otherwise go to waste.

I also like the aesthetic of combining materials and juxtaposing different materials. I went through a period before I went back to school for architecture where I was doing 2D collages. Architects generally try to limit the number of materials they use on a project, both to simplify the construction process as well as to make a cohesive appearance. Playing with such a range of materials can be difficult, but these projects both seem to have succeeded.

Of the two, I think the interiors for the Big Dig house are more successful, and I expect I would have come up with other solutions to the interiors of the Boneyard House if that had been my project. But I think both are worth noting for both the use of otherwise scrap materials as well as for the manner in which those materials were used.

[Originally posted onEcoGeek.org A couple of good reference links in this, as well as the topic itself. The BuildingGreen discussion of aphorisms and thoughts about building materials is good to look at, in particular.]

Last month, Google announced that it would no longer use any of the construction materials found on the Living Building Challenge’s “red list.” For a company that is opening new office space at a rate of 40,000 square feet (about 3,700 square meters) per week, that’s a lot of construction activity, and a lot of materials that are no longer being used for those projects. It’s also a leadership role from a company that wants to be environmentally positive.

The red list (as opposed to the green list) is a list of construction materials that include components made from products such as mercury, asbestos, PVC, formaldehyde and lead. In most cases, these materials are poor for the indoor air quality of the spaces where they are installed. But, even if the final form is relatively inert, the production of these materials also has a large environmental toll due to the extraction of materials used to produce them and from the processing of raw materials to make the finished products.

The Living Building Challenge goes beyond LEED and other green building programs with a standard for creating buildings that are restorative and balanced, rather than being merely “less bad” than typical construction. The red list is found in the Materials section of the Living Building Challenge 2.0 guidebook (pdf).

Like LEED itself, Google’s size makes this a decision that will have ramifications throughout the construction industry. Manufacturers who use red list materials in their products will see sales declines not only from Google, but from other companies who will follow Google’s lead in this.

The Building Green blog has a wonderful followup that talks not only about these rules, but offers a wider approach to considering appropriate building materials from an environmental perspective.

[Originally posted on JetsonGreen. I’ve been interested in alternatives to pressure-treated wood for quite a while. I talked about some of these in my Penguicon presentation, and I’ve been enamored of Kebony for some time.

Accoya is another wood that is processed to make it more stable and decay resistant, without using toxic materials (Accoya uses acetic acid, essentially vinegar, to transform the wood without adding anything to the wood that isn’t already naturally found there).

I’m very interested in doing some testing of my own with the two, to see how they both perform, but unfortunately it’s pricey stuff. But both should last for decades, so it’s an investment, as is the case with many other durable materials.]

If you want to use wood in an exterior application, your options are wider than ever. While durable tropical hardwoods have been decimated by unsustainable logging, there are several methods of preserving wood that produce even more durable and sustainable products. These are not woods infused with toxic chemicals or metal compounds that can leach out. Rather these woods are transformed to be more durable and decay resistant.

Read full article with further images.

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