Now in its twelfth year, the Top-10 awards go to the most innovative green building products handpicked by BuildingGreen editors from among the hundreds of new and innovative products reviewed over the previous twelve months.
“The products we’re recognizing this year are remarkable in their diversity and innovation,” said Alex Wilson, founder of BuildingGreen. “We are thrilled to call attention to these products, which are helping to create more sustainable, greener buildings throughout North America.”
The 2014 selections emphasize how a focus on simplicity and quality enable today’s green products to contribute to sustainable and resilient design goals. This year’s winners include a commercial composting system, dimension stone that utilizes quarry waste, and an engineered wood product that is partly sourced from trees killed by the mountain pine beetle. Inverters that take solar energy off the grid and electronic door locks that can stay operable during power outages using very little back-up energy are also on the list.
A big driver of innovative green products continues to be the LEED rating systems and this year’s launch of the newest version, LEED v4, marks an even stronger focus on safe materials and product transparency. As the nation’s leading directory of green products, GreenSpec allows users to find products organized by LEED credits as well as by building category and the MasterFormat structure.
The BuildingGreen Top-10 Products for 2014 (in no particular order) are:
1. Earth Measure from Coldspring and Jason F. McLennan
Earth Measure, a collaboration between Coldspring and Jason F. McLennan, is a dimension stone product that takes waste from stone manufacturing and cuts it into specific patterns that mimic the natural world. The Fibonacci series is based on spirals found in seashells and other natural elements; the Linear series is closest to standard dimension stone; the MUD series looks similar to drying mud; and the Reptile series mimics the look of reptile skin.
Earth Measures can be used for everything from pavers to walls to flooring, so it can transition from exterior to interior
2. CrossLam Cross Laminated Timber from Structurlam Products
CrossLam is a cross-laminated timber (CLT) structural panel made by gluing layers of softwood boards one on top of the next at right angles to each other. The resulting panels are light and dimensionally stable in all directions and can be used for floors, walls, and roofing. CLT is made from less desirable wood, including wood taken from forests killed by mountain pine beetles, but higher quality wood can be used if it is going to be exposed to view, and FSC-certified wood is available. CLT comes in panels up to 40 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 12 inches thick and uses formaldehyde-free Purebond polyurethane adhesive.
3. ComfortBoard Mineral Wool Board Insulation from Roxul Inc.
Roxul manufactures rigid and semi-rigid mineral wool board insulation for both commercial and residential applications. ComfortBoard, designed for applications over exterior sheathing, is produced in the Milton, Ontario, plant with a minimum 75% pre-consumer recycled content, primarily iron ore slag. The residential version, ComfortBoard IS, has a density of 8.0 pcf, while the commercial product, ComfortBoard CIS, has a density of 11 pcf. At these densities, ComfortBoard is rigid enough to be used as exterior insulation, and it provides an affordable alternative to foam-plastic insulation materials typically used in this application. Comfortboard also provides very good sound control and excellent fire resistance without the use of flame retardants. It can be used in rainscreen details, and it retains thermal resistance when damp. The R-value ranges from 4.0 to 4.2 per inch. These products are produced with a urea-extended phenol formaldehyde binder, though heat processing during production drives off most of the formaldehyde, resulting in extremely low emissions.
4. ERC 50 Modernization Façade from Schüco
The ERC 50 Modernization Façade from Schüco is a retrofit façade system that can be installed on older, inefficient commercial buildings to improve energy efficiency, occupant comfort, and aesthetics. The ERC 50 incorporates an aluminum load-bearing framework, Schüco’s high-performance windows, exterior insulation, and cladding into a system that can be installed with minimal disturbance to building occupants. The ERC 50 is modular and uses EPDM gaskets rather than caulk, so it is relatively easy to replace damaged components. Schüco’s building-integrated photovoltaic panels can also be used in this system.
5. PoE Access Control Locks from Assa Abloy Group, brands Corbin Russwin and Sargent
Assa Abloy offers power-over-Ethernet (PoE) electronic access-control locks, including the Sargent Profile Series v.S1, the Sargent Passport 1000 P1, and the Corbin Russwin Access 700 PIP1. Ethernet data cables carry low-voltage electricity to power the lock as well as transmitting data to and from the devices using a facility’s already existing wired and wireless local area network (LAN). Each PoE door typically uses about one watt per door in standby mode, saving more than 150 kWh per year compared to a traditionally wired system. Ethernet power loads are low enough that a modest uninterruptable power supply (UPS) may be able to maintain electronic-access functionality in the case of a power outage.
6. Kinetex Textile Composite Flooring from J+J Flooring Group
Kinetex is a soft surface floor covering intended for use in place of hard surfaces such as vinyl composite tiles in medium- to high-traffic commercial applications. These 24" x 24" semi-rigid tiles are 0.20" thick, compared to 0.25"–0.60" for standard carpet tiles, and are engineered with a wear layer made from solution-dyed PET that resists staining or bleaching and is woven for abrasion resistance and durability. Kinetex is made from 60% recycled content (50% post-consumer PET sourced primarily from water and soda bottles) and, unlike carpet, can be ground and processed into new backing in one step without costly material separation and sorting or loss of performance. Kinetex is treated with perfluorinated compounds to resist dirt and improve its lifespan; note that these chemicals persist in the environment and may have long-term environmental impacts.
7. Earth Flow Composting System from Green Mountain Technologies
Earth Flow is a medium-size, in-vessel composting system with a motorized traveling auger to aerate the compost and a biofilter and fan to minimize odors. With walls that are insulated to R-18 and a greenhouse top, the vessel is sealed against pests and leakage. Units can accept 300–3,000 pounds of organic waste per day and are designed for use on college and corporate campuses and at resorts. Depending on size (10'–40' in length), the system may consume 5–10 kWh per day, according to the company. A unique biofiltration system using wood chips can be part of the planted landscaping for some projects, and this system can be hooked directly to a commercial pulper system for greater convenience. Compost is harvested every two to three weeks and should be cured before spreading directly on beds or fields.
8. CO2-Refrigerant Heat Pumps from Mayekawa USA MYCOM
Mayekawa manufactures three different heat pumps for commercial applications that use carbon dioxide as the refrigerant, rather than industry-standard HFCs. The EcoCute model is a water-to-water heat pump that provides both water heating (up to 194°F) and cooling from any water source, including waste heat or solar-preheated water, with a COP up to 8.0. This makes it feasible as an alternative to fossil-fuel-fired boilers. The Unimo air-to-water heat pump water heater produces similar output temperatures using the outdoor air as the heat source, while the Sirocco water-to-air heat pump also offers high-temperature water heating. All Mayekawa heat pumps have 25 kW reciprocating compressors. Key markets include hotels, food processing, pasteurization, and thermal energy storage. The economics for EcoCute and Sirocco products will be most attractive where both heating and cooling loads exist and long run times are feasible.
9. Sunny Boy 3000TL-US, 4000TL-US and 5000TL-US Inverters from SMA America
Most grid-connected inverters used for solar-electric systems cannot provide any power during power outages, even when the sun is shining. These revolutionary transformerless inverters from SMA America provide daytime power in the event of a grid outage. Without requiring battery storage, these inverters can switch from interactive operation to providing off-grid energy to a dedicated power outlet. Provided the sun is shining, these inverters can deliver 1,500 watts (12.5 amps at 120 volts) with a maximum efficiency of 97%. While they may not provide enough power for major household loads, these inverters can provide critical cell phone and laptop computer charging and other emergency needs.
10. Vivid MR16 LED from Soraa
Soraa Vivid MR-16 LED luminaires are ideal for use where light quality is critical, such as art galleries or retail displays. Unlike other LEDs that use gallium nitride (GaN) crystals grown on a sapphire or silicon carbide base, Soraa uses GaN grown on a GaN base so the crystals have far fewer imperfections. Though less efficacious than some LEDs, Soraa MR-16s produce higher intensity, “full spectrum” light that can rival halogen bulbs, while operating at much lower temperatures. The color rendering index (CRI) is as high as 95. Soraa’s Vivid MR16s are available in 14-, 25-, and 36-degree beam angles.