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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New Products Fresh From Greenbuild

With 28,000 attendees and over 1000 exhibitors at Greenbuild in Phoenix, there was much to be seen at this year's show.  We had our work cut out for us making it through the crowds to see all of the exhibitors in two days, but we did it.  We saw many new products that excited us, including the latest offererings from our manufacturers who exhibited there, who are continually improving and expanding their offerings.  Here are some of the highlights of what is coming from them in 2010:

TorZo Surfaces

  • Edge banding!  These strong, durable, and sustainable sheet goods are great for tabletops, desks, cabinets, etc.  With edge banding coming out for the entire line, not only will the finished product be more beautiful, but the fabrication will be more cost effective.
  • ½” Seeta (sunflower seed hull) boards that are more dense (fewer voids) and less expensive than the standard ¾” sheets – a great option for this unique look.
  • We got a sneak preview of some new bio-based boards currently in development.  They are top secret now, but stay tuned for new unique looks from this line of surfaces. 

Bonded Logic /UltraTouch

  • Duct insulation and Pipe wrap:  Finally!  You no longer need to wrap your duct work and pipe in fiberglass.  This foil laminated, r-8, cotton fiber insulation has 85% recycled rapidly-renewable cotton fibers.  The duct insulation will come in 12” wide, 2” thick, and 15’ long bundles.  The pipe wrap is 3” wide, ½” thick, and 50’ long.

Coverings, Etc.

  • Bio-Aluminum:  100% recycled aluminum from salvaged aircraft carriers.  100% recyclable and Cradle to Cradle certified.  A great new option for high-traffic flooring and high-end wall treatments.

As samples and pricing become available, we will announce these new products through our monthly newsletter and on our website.

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The Best of NeoCon East 2009

CaraGreen recently exhibited at NeoCon East in Baltimore, MD, which brought together the hottest designers in one of the hottest building markets in the country.  Here are our favorite discoveries from the show:

  1. Pecha Kucha (pronounced Peh-cha ka-cha) if you haven’t tried it, you must!   A fun, fast-paced creative exchange that I can only describe as some crazy combination of speed dating and karaoke.  Seriously… each presenter (anyone can present) shows 20 images for 20 seconds each then you get the next presenter. This was fun, inspiring and a great way to get to know other people, their work, and inspirations. 
  2. The FIT chair by Kimball - The combination of simplicity, high tech textiles, and comfort provided the perfect pit stop after a long day on the Expo floor.
  3. The people!  Excellent turnout with an estimated 8,000 attendees from top firms with lots of interesting projects in progress.
  4. Durat’s mini-block tub in granny-smith apple green with 30% recycled plastic, 100% recyclable, and completely irresistible!  
  5. DIRTT (stands for ‘Doing it Right This Time’)Environmental Solutions --LOVE the name!  But besides that, they have a new film that turns any wall into a dry-erase marker board.  No more glossy white boards, the clear film lets you write on even the most precious veneered wall.
  6. Interlam Sculpted Panels – funky woven things ().  The only thing that would make these unique panel better would be to green-up the MDF base panels with recycled wood and no-added formaldehyde glues. 

This is just a sampling, we’ll definitely be back next year for more!


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Stacy Glass from Caragreen to Present for the AIA NC November 10th

On November 10th, the AIA will be offering 3 Continuing Education Seminars on one day in Raleigh, NC:
-Building Materials for Sustainable Interiors (updated for LEED 2009) and Life Cycle Assessment
-The Business and Professional Risks of Integrated Project Delivery
-Don't Let Green Design Cause Red Ink

Stacy Glass from Caragreen will be presenting the Building Materials for Sustainable Interiors and Life Cycle Assessment course from 10AM to 12PM for 2 HSW-SD CEUs.

Course Summary:

Once energy and water efficiencies have been achieved in a project, attention turns to the interior finishes.  Carefully considering material selection can help optimize LEED credits in the areas of Materials & Reuse as well as Indoor Environmental Quality and may make the difference between silver and gold or gold and platinum ratings.  Even more importantly, careful material section can help to engage tenants in the sustainable intents of the building.  This course will examine what material credits are available in LEED-NC and how to choose the right interior products to optimize LEED credits.  This course considers a range of new materials being used for building products, including rapidly renewable,  high recycled content, local, reclaimed and reused building products available for architects to specify in new projects focused on sustainable design.  Actual product samples will be demonstrated.

AND....With so many options and ‘green’ messages in the marketplace, how do you know what is really green and what is green washed?  This course is designed to provide architects and designers with a toolkit of options to truly evaluate the sustainability of interior products based on Life Cycle Analysis.  Several existing tools are considered, including BEES 4.0, Pharos lens and many of the certification bodies that evaluate green products including SCAQMD, GreenSpec, GreenSeal, GreenGuard and others.  Participants are provided with guidelines for evaluating products, an interview guide to truly assess sustainability, and a listing of resources to assist in Life Cycle Analysis of interior building products.

Stacy Glass, President at CaraGreen, has her BA from the University of Minnesota and MBA from Duke University. Stacy has worked on an international level developing and executing start-up strategies for businesses and social enterprises, as well as contributing to rapid growth and expansion by developing new markets and managing multi-million dollar projects.

Register HERE prior to November 6th.

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Goodberry’s Creamery in Raleigh Integrates Sustainability Into New Shop

Goodberry's Creamery at Cameron Village in Raleigh, NC has integrated sustainable building practices and materials into its new store design with the help of local Raleigh architects Bret Page and Andy Osterlund.
Goodberry's goal for this store was to educate customers about their frozen custard, which has always been made from just a few natural ingredients.  So, using natural building materials in the construction was an easy decision. In one of their first meetings, the Goodberry’s owner showed the team a painting of a dairy farm that hung in their office. The painting had an avant-garde style and highlighted their key ingredients. We wanted to bring that style and those highlights into the store.
Goodberry’s suggested bamboo floors early on, for their rapidly renewable nature and modern aesthetic. The service counter and table tops, where Meld ecoX is installed, also available through CaraGreen, needed to be durable, cleanable, and have a solid, cool, stone feel. Goodberry’s signature custard is their “Concrete” mixed with your choice of topping.  Meld concrete was archetypical.  They loved the color, the weight, and that it was pre-cast locally with recycled aggregate.

Lighting in the store was carefully considered; electric lighting in the store is efficient, compact fluorescents help to maintain the color of daylight, and LEDs create fun, bright color highlights while using minimal energy. Other sustainable features include the restrooms, which have automatic faucets for convenience and to conserve water.  And, Goodberry’s custom-made custard equipment was even modified to be more energy efficient!
This project sets a great example for the future of Cameron Village and for restaurants that would like to integrate more sustainability into their spaces.

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CaraGreen Exhibiting at NeoCon East Next Week, Booth # 2767

CaraGreen is heading to Baltimore October 28th and 29th where we’ll be exhibiting at NeoCon East.  NeoCon East is the premier design exposition and conference for the mid-atlantic design community and we are excited to be part of this show!
The CaraGreen booth has installations of Durat, Meld, TorZo, and Turning House Millworks, so designers can see these sustainable products in action.  Durat will have a vibrant and playful lime green tub and kelly green sink on display.  Meld will have two stunning ecoX countertops, one of which shows their new micro glass option, which uses finely ground glass as the aggregate.  TorZo Indure, Tiikeri, and Orient will be featured as wall coverings and shelving in the booth, which adds texture and warmth to the space.  And, Turning House Millworks will cover the floor with their reclaimed multi-plank (engineered) wood flooring.
If you are heading to the show, we hope to see you there!  Otherwise, look for a recap of the event on our blog next month.

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Manufacturing, Design, and the Art in Recycling in Finland

Whenever possible, we visit our manufacturers facilities so that we can become educated and verify claims.  In this case, in September, I traveled to Helsinki Finland and then hopped on bus to Turku where I met up with the team from Durat for a lesson in manufacturing, design, and the art in recycling. 

Ulla Tuominen is the artist behind the beautiful colors and shapes that make Durat’s product line so unique.  I was able to spend a day with Ulla and see the world through her eyes.  First, we toured the manufacturing facility.  I learned that the specks in Durat are the recycled content and the ending number of the color code indicates the type of recycled content – clear, white, black, large, small, multicolored, etc.  Durat has partnerships with various manufacturers in Finland and neighboring Sweden to collect their waste plastics.  The waste material is processed at the manufacturing facility where it goes through a process of being cleaned, stripped of any extraneous materials, and ground into the granular material. 

Then, to the color lab.  Where little samples of any color you can possibly imagine lie everywhere you look.  Some colors are standard, others inspired by a clients vision – such as #810 where the client requested the color of a ‘granny smith apple’. When the wild colors combine with the recycled materials, the possibilities seem endless.  Some of the projects that were being fabricated the day that I visited included a ‘granny smith apple’ colored tub, a dozen custom vanities with integrated sinks that were going into an office building, and free-standing Torni (Tower in English) sinks.

While I have long admired the material and designs of Durat, observing the manufacturing process inspired me to think about the potential for large scale custom projects such as hotels, office buildings, dorms, etc. 

We drove from the manufacturing facility in Rymättylä to the Helsinki showroom located in the Design District in the center of the city.  An area full of design and antique shops, fashion stores, museums, art galleries, restaurants and showrooms.  In a restored warehouse, Durat’s showroom blends seamlessly with Artek, founded by the visionary modern architect (and Finnish design legend) Alvar Aalto.  Taking recycling to new heights, I learned that Artek bought back original and vintage Aalto stools and chairs from schools, libraries and individuals and has resold them under the label 2nd Cycle.  These 2nd Cycle gems were resold with their worn character intact, no refinishing. 

Between the Artek and Durat showrooms the art of recycling took many functional, modern, and inspiring forms.

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CaraGreen Exhibiting and Speaking at the AIA SAR Conference 10/1 and 10/2 in Greenville, SC

CaraGreen will be exhibiting and presenting at the AIA South Atlantic Regional (SAR) Conference in Greenville, SC, October 1st-2nd. We will be showcasing our products in a newly designed booth, which will feature both samples and installations of our goods.  Stop by booth #146 to see our latest offerings!

In addition to exhibiting, Stacy Glass from CaraGreen will be teaching a seminar on Friday Oct. 2nd 10:15 – 11:30, titled “Selecting and Optimizing Materials for LEED Projects”.

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Stacy Glass to Particpate in Women Leading Environmental Change Panel Discussion

The 2009 Women’s Leadership Summit at Meredith College will include an opportunity to explore the leadership lessons offered by women at the forefront of environmental change in their communities, businesses, and organizations.

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