Chapel Hill Modernist Home Uses CaraGreen Finishes in Renovation

The News and Observer recently covered the renovation of a mid-century modern home in Chapel Hill, which used CaraGreen finishes. The renovation involved a three-story addition, which was needed to accommodate a growing family. Louis Cherry of Cherry Huffman Architects came up with the new design, which complemented the existing mid-century structure.  The master bedroom was moved to the ground floor of the addition with a studio and wine cellar going on the lower level and a rooftop dining area on top.  The space connects beautifully with the surrounding woods with expansive windows that let in natural light and show the outdoors, a deck off the master bedroom, and the rooftop terrace. 

Sustainable and natural materials were used in the renovation, many of which CaraGreen provided.  Rapidly renewable bamboo flooring was used throughout the home. Eco-Cem panels, made with recycled wood fibers, were used for wall panels in the master bathroom (Coal Grey) and for flooring on the rooftop terrace (Natural Grey).  And, Eco-Gres recycled porcelain mosaic tile (Dover White) was used for flooring in the master bathroom.

Read the full story, complete with a gallery of images, here.


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Ultratouch Now Uses Post-Consumer Recycled Content

One of the building industry’s most environmentally friendly products just got a whole lot greener and a bit less confusing. UltraTouch Natural Cotton Fiber Insulation, commonly referred to as “recycled blue jean insulation”, is now sourced entirely of post-consumer blue jeans instead of the post-industrial denim scraps it was previously made from. The recycled jean material has made its way through the used clothing chain without being sold and has reached a point where it would typically either go to a landfill or be incinerated. Now, this material will be put to good use in UltraTouch cotton insulation.

Additionally, UltraTouch’s packaging has been improved to increase its product per truckload by 15 percent. This significantly lowers the product’s carbon footprint and makes shipping easier.
For more information on UltraTouch, which can contribute to 12 LEED credits, contact CaraGreen.

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CaraGreen Now Offering Education on Labels and Certifications

CaraGreen has added a new lunch and learn to our list of educational offerings. The course titled How to Assess Materials Sustainable Attributes – Breaking Down Labels and Certifications, provides 1 AIA CES HSW credit. As more sustainable materials are introduced to the market, it becomes increasingly difficult to figure out how to compare products. This course on Labels and Certifications helps clarify which products can meet your project requirements and how you can distinguish truly sustainable features from invalidated claims. The course considers the best techniques for assessing product sustainability based on a single attribute or considering a product’s full life cycle.  We will simplify the process of determining what makes a product sustainable and why.  Learning objectives include:

-Define the connection between Buildings, Interiors and Material Selection
-Learn Health, Environmental and Social Impacts of Material Selection
-Examine what makes a good label or certification program
-Identify which sustainable materials meet your project needs today

Other CaraGreen course offerings currently include: Building Materials for Sustainable Interiors, Life Cycle Analysis Tools and Evaluation Methods for Sustainable Interiors, Sustainable Surfacing Materials, and Bamboo Flooring & Plywood in a Sustainable Design Environment

For more information on having CaraGreen present at your firm, contact Lisa.

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Meld EcoX Installed in CaraGreen Founder’s Home

CaraGreen founder, David Spuria, recently installed Meld ecoX countertops in his personal residence. David selected Meld for its modern and natural aesthetic and sustainability profile. Meld ecoX has up to 70% recycled content. And, the color he used, Natural with Tri-blend Glass, uses completely post-consumer recycled glass in shades of green, brown, and clear. To pick up on the brilliant green colored glass, a nearby wall was painted in the same hue. Other eco-friendly elements of David's home include energy star appliances, reflective plywood and foam insulation in the attic and exterior walls, a metal roof, cotton insulation in the interior walls, and 100% recycled 3-form polymer countertops in his laundry room.

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Recycle Your Denim at the Gap and Get 30% Off

Gap invites customers to "Recycle Your Blues" and get 30% off new Gap denim.  Cotton Incorporated will be working with Gap to launch the COTTON. FROM BLUE TO GREEN.® denim drive in about 1,000 Gap stores.  From March 5 through March 14, consumers can donate old denim at their local Gap, which will then be given a “new life” by being converted into UltraTouch Natural Cotton Fiber Insulation, and donated to communities in need. Consumers who donate their denim will receive a 30% discount off new denim purchases.   Since the COTTON. FROM BLUE TO GREEN.® denim drive program began, enough denim has been recycled to create natural cotton fiber insulation for over 540 homes.

The in-store program will be featured on Gap’s online consumer site,, as well as the COTTON. FROM BLUE TO GREEN.® Web site,

For more information on UltraTouch Cotton Fiber Insulation and 2010 homeowner tax incentives, contact us.


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ICC’s International Green Construction Code Coming Soon!

It’s finally starting to happen. As LEED becomes more and more a part of construction projects across the country, the International Code Council, or ICC, has announced it is putting the finishing touches on the first International Green Construction Code. With its scheduled release in March of this year, this code will be an integrated green code for traditional and high- performance commercial buildings. The ICC pulled together multiple groups, such as the AIA, ASTM, and USGBC, just to name a few, to draft this code, which is designed to fully integrate with the existing ICC codes already in place in all 50 states. Although it will be 2012 before it’s gone through all of the reviews and public comment sessions and can be incorporated into the ICC Family of Codes, this is the first step towards making green building something we have to do, and not just want to do. California has started the trend with its recent adoption of CALGREEN, the first statewide green building code, which will go into effect January 1, 2011. With the IGCC’s release, it is only a matter of time before all states have adopted some sort of green building code. While this may add some responsibilit to the code inspector’s job, it will ultimately be a positive development and something that will benefit the building owner’s, tenants, and the employees who work in these buildings. Energy savings, water savings, and clean indoor air are always a good thing!

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Help Plant a Billion Trees with CaraGreen

One dollar, one tree, one planet.

Join CaraGreen and participate in the Nature Conservancy’s Plant A Billion Trees program in 2010. CaraGreen’s goal is to plant 1,000 trees to help their effort to save the Atlantic Forest of Brazil.

This forest is one of the world’s most endangered tropical forests, with only 7% of its original area remaining. Coastal development, urban expansion, agriculture, exotic plantations, ranching, and illegal logging have all contributed to the degradation of this once vast and lush landscape.

Tropical forests are the lungs of the earth, storing enormous amounts of carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen in a never-ending cycle of life.  The Atlantic Forest helps regulate the atmosphere and stabilize global climate.  And, forests support 1 billion people on earth - their livelihoods, water supplies, energy and cultures.  Plus, the Atlantic Forest is home to 23 species of primates, 1,000 species of birds, and over 20,000 species of plants, many of which are found nowhere else on earth.

The Conservancy is working to restore 2.5 million acres of land and planting 1 billion trees over the next 7 years.  This reforestation effort will remove 10 million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year, which is comparable to taking 2 million cars off the road.  The ecological and economical effects of the Plant A Billion Trees campaign will be felt locally and globally. 

At just $1 a tree, there’s never been a conservation project of this scale that's been so within the world's reach. To get the campaign started, CaraGreen is planting 400 trees in honor of our best customers in 2009.  We hope you’ll join in to help ensure even more lasting results for the earth’s last great places. Just click the image to get started!

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Luminous Bio-Glass Vanity by Sitzer Spuria Studios

Sitzer Spuria Studios recently used White Diamond Bio-Glass for the vanity top in a master bath they designed. They selected the material because of its beauty (inside and out). The clients fell in love with the material as soon as they saw it. One of the designers on the project, Beverly Dawson, remarked that the glass is the color of water, so it beckons to be used in a bathroom. The material has a rare luminosity and clarity that make it a showpiece. And, they love it's story - the fact that the material is 100% recycled adds to its beauty.  Custom Stone and Marble in Durham, NC fabricated and installed the glass top.  The backspash tile selected to complement the Bio-Glass top is MW Glass Mosaic in Satin Grey Mix and the cabinets are a light washed oak. 
Here are a few tips from Sitzer Spuria Studios for designing with Bio-Glass:

-Bio-Glass should be supported with a substrate, so designing this layer into the cabinet is essential to a successful installation.
-The lighter colors of Bio-Glass (White Diamond and Oriental Jade) take on the color of the substrate they are placed on.  The substrate should be a uniform color, which can be achieved by painting the substrate.  Sitzer Spuria Studios recommends Sherwin Williams White Mint for the White Diamond Bio-Glass and Greening for the Oriental Jade Bio-Glass.
- Instruct the installer to use a modest amount of clear adhesive around the edges of the top for a flawless installation.
-Sink options to consider, other than undermount, are drop-in sinks and vessel sinks which would work beautifully with the material.

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Figuring Out What Is Green and How Green It Is

At Greenbuild 2009, we saw great progress in the development of software and labeling programs that just a year ago were good ideas needing implementation.  While many rating systems have made great progress, they risk alienating small, entrepreneurial manufacturers due to fees and associated costs.  Some interesting players to watch include:

Healthy Building Network’s Pharos Lens
What it is:  A comprehensive online materials evaluation tool.
What we like:
-The vision – 16 attributes that cover 3 broad categories (Health, Environment, and Social).
-Starting point – the first 4 attributes rated cover toxicity and health issues at different stages of production and use.  A gap in other rating systems. 
-100 products have been rated, 100 more are in the pipeline.
-Next step – next year at this time, they expect to launch the attributes related to Social issues related to sustainability – an area that no other system is addressing at this time.
Considerations:  This is a marathon project that will take years to fully realize the vision but this organization has the stamina to get it done.  Vote with your $’s – if you like it, support it with a $75 membership.  Pharos does not charge manufacturers to participate and they provide feedback to manufacturers at no cost so they have the information they need to continually improve their processes.

What it is:  An online database driven engine that facilitates specifying and documenting green products against  the USGBC’s LEED rating systems. 
What we like: 
-Easy - you choose a product from the database (down to the exact sku), enter the quantity, and price and the software will tell you exactly which LEED credits it will contribute to and how much.  It even knows where the product is manufactured and will indicate if it contributes to the regionally sourced credit. 
-Reporting – the report is exactly what you need for LEED documentation.  This will make specification and documentation a breeze. 
Considerations:  With 27 manufacturers currently in the database (heavy on flooring options from the big guys), it isn’t broad enough to provide comparisons between products.  Cost may limit participation from smaller manufacturers.

The Athena Institute’s EcoCalculator
What it is:  a database of Life Cycle Assessment information for common building assemblies.
What we like:
-Comprehensive - Hundreds of building assemblies
-The sources – ATHENA Impact Estimator for buildings and the US Life Cycle Inventory Database are quickly becoming the standard in building LCA
-Track record – used in the Green Globes rating system for years, recently adopted for use in the USGBC’s LCA pilot credit.
Considerations:  LCA is a complicated, multi-diciplinary science.  Event the best LCA tools have gaps and biases in the data that can distort results, overemphasize some impacts while totally hiding other  ones.  Using a tool that provides the user with a score may guide the user away from a good understanding of the full environmental health impacts and can lead to materials decisions that do not actually reflect the user's goals.

Except for Pharos, all other systems require manufacturers to pay for certification, inclusion, or LCA. This business model will skew databases toward the largest manufactures and therefore the industry will have a bias against small, entrepreneurial manufacturers. 

We look forward to seeing how these tools continue to develop.

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