CaraGreen Open House Recap

Our Open House earlier this month received a great response. Thanks go out to all of the architects and designers who stopped in to see our updated showroom, experience our sustainable products, and converse about business. And, thanks to Torzo and EcoFusion reps, Waid Whatley and Mark Kolbe, respectively, for making the trip to North Carolina to join our event and share their expertise.

Our new showroom was redesigned to emphasize larger samples and product education. Our guests were complimentary of the new experience and some shared that it was easy to visualize applications and installations. If you didn't make it, and you'd like to visit, please drop us a note and we'll give you a personal showing.

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NeoCon’s Most Popular Products

 

In June, CaraGreen exhibited at NeoCon in Chicago. We were pleased to meet many architects and designers who were enthusiastic about our sustainable product portfolio. Here were our top showstoppers...

1 - Bark House Poplar Panels - columns supporting our table were clad in Poplar bark and their pure and natural aesthetic charmed many designers.
2 - Durat Bath Tub - Our bright green Durat tub was a showstopper. When admirers learned it was available in over 60 colors, we saw the design wheels turning.
3 - TorZo Tiikeri Sapphire - The unique look of TorZo Tiikeri in a brilliant blue color appealed to those seeking an exotic, refined, and durable material.
4 - ECOfusion Strand Woven Eucalyptus Flooring - Eucalyptus flooring was new to many showgoers. ECOfusion revealed two beautiful new stained eucalyptus flooring colors at the show, a white and dark brown.

For more information on any of these materials, contact us.

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The Time is Right for Cradle to Cradle Certification

While we have long been fans of Bill McDonough’s work and the design philosophy espoused in the book, “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things”, we’ve had our reservations about fully embracing Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Certification as the eco-label of choice, but NO MORE! Over the past two years, C2C Certification has quietly transformed into a non-profit, third-party verified, multi-attribute assessment that rewards exceptional design for sustainable and healthy materials.

The catalyst of this change was the creation of the non-profit Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute with the mission of exponentially increasing the number of certified products through education, training independent assessors, administering a process for third-party auditing and issuing certifications.

This is timely given the materials revolution happening in the green building industry. The USGBC has recently revamped the Materials and Resource section for LEED 2012. While still in draft form, a few things are clear. There is a move towards greater transparency, multi-attribute assessment vs. single attribute, closed-loop recycling, and a more comprehensive approach to valuing certifications according to depth, transparency, and rigor. These changes move LEED a little closer to the process involved in Cradle to Cradle Certification.

The first stage of Certification requires companies to define every ingredient in their product down to the parts per million. This might seem simple enough, but when you consider the layers of a supply chain and concern about proprietary ingredients, this can be a time consuming task. However, the market is demanding this level of transparency as evidenced in the Healthy Product Declaration Forum and the new LEED 2012 MR credit: Material Life Cycle Disclosure and Assessment. This first step in C2C Certification meets the demand for transparency.

Once the product ingredients have been fully defined, each ingredient is assessed for its risk to human health and the environment. This takes a chemist/toxicologist type expert but the outcome is a full assessment of the product down to the parts per million. Just knowing if the ingredient is harmful is not enough. If there are persistent bio-accumulative toxins present in the product, it cannot be certified. Eliminating “Chemicals of Concern” is a mantra being advanced by several organizations including:  LEED 2012 MR credit:  Disclosure of Chemicals of Concern and MR credit:  Avoidance of Chemicals of Concern, Perkins + Will’s Transparency initiative, the Living Building Challenge Red List and the ongoing work of the Pharos project to name only a few. At this stage, in addition to human and environmental health, products are also assessed on multiple attributes involving manufacturing and organizational processes including material reutilization, renewable energy, water stewardship, and social responsibility.

Once the product and manufacturing processes have been fully defined and assessed, the manufacturers work towards optimizing their processes and product by increasing their efforts to ensure material reutilization, renewable energy, clean water, and social responsibility as well as by eliminating or replacing undesirable ingredients with safer alternatives or redesigning products to eliminate the need for the chemical altogether.  As they achieve greater optimization, they are granted higher and higher levels of certification (Basic, Silver, Gold, Platinum). 

The level of rigor embodied in Cradle to Cradle Certification is unprecedented in the marketplace and requires companies to make a serious investment in innovative sustainability strategies.  As such, it is time to revisit Cradle to Cradle Certification as a standard for measuring sustainable materials. 

Full disclosure:  Stacy Glass is serving as an Executive in Residence for the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and is advising on accelerating certified products for the built environment.

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Durat Releases New Colors for 2012

Durat has added two colors to their paint box of recycled solid surface material. The first is #310, a brilliant yellow reminiscent of honey, saffron, and school buses. And the other is #370, a turquoise evoking images of peacocks and pools. Durat offers over 70 vibrant colors. If you still can’t find the exact hue you need, custom colors are available. Click here for more information on Durat.

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Field Trip to Model Building for Sustainability, NC AIA Center for Architecture & Design

CaraGreen just visited the new AIA North Carolina Center for Architecture and Design in Raleigh. The building design was selected through a competition, which was won by Frank Harmon Architect PA. The 12,000 sqft building was built to a LEED platinum standard and is a role model for sustainable design. If driving to the site, the “parking garden” greets you to the building and is a porous pebbly surface which collects storm water runoff and has native plantings. A buried rainwater collection cistern captures every drop of rainwater for reuse. This space functions for both parking and green event space. To optimize natural day-lighting and ventilation, the building is South facing. On our tour, director David Crawford demonstrated how the windows opened on opposite sides for an amazing flow of fresh air. The building uses geothermal heating and cooling. And deep roof overhangs protect the interior from harsh summer sun. The majority of the interior finish materials are local and sustainable, including carpets and concrete countertops. The building is open to the public, so stop by if you have a chance. There are free exhibits that highlight architecture and design that change often to take in while you’re there, as well as a library space with resources on all things architecture. For more information, visit their website.

AIA NC Center for Architecture and Design

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Greenbuild Wrap Up 2011: Innovation is Imminent

Greenbuild wrapped up on Oct. 7th in Toronto. This was CaraGreen’s fifth year attending the conference and despite the lack of growth in the overall building industry, there is a growing green building economy and there was plenty of excitement and inspiration to be had.

The theme of the conference and expo was “NEXT” and based on what I saw (admitting a bias towards interior non-structural materials), materials seem to be the next frontier for the USGBC. The Materials and Resource section of LEED is getting a complete overhaul for the next release in 2012. With the changes proposed, we can expect real innovation from manufacturers as they work toward material optimization from a health, environment, and social perspective.

The MR section of LEED is evolving toward transparency, the avoidance of chemicals of concern, responsible sourcing of raw materials, and end of life considerations. Overall, LEED 2012 is adopting a preference for multi-attribute assessment of materials vs. single attribute assessments. This is a leap forward for our industry expanding the definition of what is ‘green’. As most of us know, just because a product doesn’t off-gas or just because it has recycled content, doesn’t mean that it is sustainable, healthy, or manufactured under safe and fair conditions.

The call for transparency is coming from owners, specifiers, and occupants who want to know exactly where the product is coming from, what’s in it, what’s its impact during use, and what will its impact be at the end of its useful life. Credits have been drafted to address many of these questions and it looks like we can expect Life Cycle Assessments to take a major role in the future of materials. 

One area of transparency that can be difficult to make sense of is the ‘chemicals of concern’. Various groups from the EPA to Healthy Building Network and large firms like Perkins+Will and Google have lists of chemicals they want to eliminate to improve indoor air quality and human health. The problem is, lists can vary from one organization to the other, manufacturers don’t consistently know their chemical make-ups down to the parts per million (often due to the depth of their supply chain), and reporting formats vary so comparing products is very difficult.

A promising solution, The Health Product Declaration (HPD) Forum, a group of building designers, specifiers, owners and users, have developed the HPD Open Standard. This form is a voluntary, open standard for the communication of product content and associated health information for building products. Establishing protocols for reporting this information in a consistent manner will help building professionals quickly and easily find the information they need. It will help manufacturers by standardizing the information they need to provide to answer the increasing number of inquiries on these issues. It will also facilitate the integration of building product data into certification programs, product databases and design software.

The open process and database has the potential to encourage widespread industry participation and adoption. Check out the form here and let us know if your firm is moving in the same direction.

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ICFF Wrap Up: Evolving From Sustainable Materials to Sustainable Design

CaraGreen just returned from the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York where we make the annual pilgrimage to scout for new and notable sustainable design trends. This year, we saw an impressive display of sustainable materials being used in contemporary furniture design – much more than in previous years. Other themes included urban farming solutions, LED lighting advancements, and attention to carbon footprint and end of life use of furnishings.

Here are our favorite examples of thoughtful furniture and lighting that incorporate materials that are recycled, rapidly renewable, reclaimed, and/or sustainably-harvested from the show:
- Furniture using 100% recycled paper panels from Token – very durable and beautiful
- Recycled cardboard lights from Graypants
- Recycled beer bottles recast into light fixtures by iQEnvironments
- Used skateboards recycled into colorful tiles with tons of character by Art of Board

An unexpected treat…As New Yorker’s embrace the local food movement, there is a market for urban chicken coops. RAAD design has set the standard, creating a modern, luxury, solar powered hen house. It ships flat-packed and is easily assembled. Not just for roof-top farmers!

LED lighting continues to gain momentum as bulb and color options expand and as prices come down. Replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs reduces energy consumption by 85% - very sustainable. One light design takes sustainability even further. Designer Magnus Wästberg used Durapulp, a mix of wood pulp and a thermoplastic made from corn or sugarcane, and low-voltage LEDs, to create the DuraPulp lamp (in picture). The LEDs reduce the voltage and amps needed so minimal wires are required, allowing them to be safely embedded in paper. This product moves beyond sustainable materials to sustainable solutions at every phase of the supply chain. A lumber company finds another use for the pulp that is often a byproduct of softwood lumber production. A chemist creates a plastic made from biomaterial versus petroleum. A designer manipulates the material for strength and form. The result is a beautifully design, energy saving, affordable, product that is compostable at the end of its life. 

Another example of the evolution of sustainable design was forefront in the University of Oregon’s exhibition, 'The Shape of Sustainability is...Flat?'. This project explores flat pack furniture and life cycle analysis of furniture designed by students. The University of Oregon Product Design Program challenges current understandings of sustainable design, researches new possibilities, and defines new methods. Each student’s design embodied traditional design principles while quantifying environmental impacts from harvest through end of life.It is exciting to see sustainable design and life cycle thinking incorporated from design education to commercial products. We are already looking forward to next years offerings! 

To see additional photos and postings from ICFF, visit our Facebook Page.

RAAD Design Chicken CoopMagnus Wastberg Lighting

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Introducing Light Art + Design, A Design Shop and Creator of Custom Sustainable Furnishings

CaraGreen founder and interior designer Cindy Spuria, recently opened LIGHT Art+Design in the LEED Gold Greenbridge Development in Chapel Hill, NC. LIGHT is a curated design shop offering a mix of artwork, custom furniture, rugs, and lighting. All items are chosen for their fine craftsmanship, modern point of view, and commitment to a more sustainable future. In addition to offering the creations of local artists and designers, LIGHT designs and manufactures their own line of furnishings, which utilize sustainable products from CaraGreen.

For their current show, “For the Birds”, which is up through June 11th, LIGHT debuted furnishings made of Bark House bark panels and Durat. A floating cabinet juxtaposed rough Bark House doors against a silky white Durat shell. And, cubes were made from Bark House sheets with removable upholstered tops which reveal storage inside. Bark House obtains bark from sustainable Appalachian foresters and is a by-product of the furniture and plywood industries. Durat is a durable solid surface material, which contains 30% recycled content and is 100% recycled. These custom pieces explore the possibilities for these sustainable materials. Bark House products can also be used for siding, wall paneling, signage, and casework. And, Durat sheets can be used to create seamless surfaces for counters, tables, and vanities.

LIGHT also represents national design brands such as LE rugs, DellaRobbia, Artecnica accessories, Eco Smart Fire fireplaces, Artemide LED task lighting, and Lightolier.
 
Connect with LIGHT on Facebook to keep up with new products and shows. Or, visit their website to learn more.

Barkhouse Bark Cubes at Light Art + Designdurat and barkhouse bark panel floating cabinet by light

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Hunting for ‘Green’ at ICFF

One of our favorite shows for eye candy, ICFF, is back in NYC May 14 – 16 to showcase contemporary design. What is contemporary design without an eye for sustainability. We’ll be there hunting for green materials, new lighting technology, eco-friendly fibers, non-toxic next generation compounds, proven environmentally friendly production processes, and cradle to cradle design all wrapped up in a gorgeous package. Some of our favorites from years past have been stunning designs from recycled materials.
 
Subscribe to our blog or facebook page for news from the show.

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Meld Makes Builder Magazine’s 50 Most Popular Products List

Builder magazine just released their Readers’ Choice 50 Favorite Products of 2010 and Meld concrete surfaces is number 8 on the list. The list is based on reader service requests and includes a mix of sustainable and conventional products in categories ranging from appliances to solar products. Meld is honored to be on this list among world-class brands like GE and Kohler. Over the last decade, Meld has refined the craft of making con crete surfaces. Meld blends concrete with recycled materials to create artful, sustainable concrete surfaces. Their products have up to 75% recycled content and can help projects achieve LEED accreditation. Meld concrete is available in pre-cast slabs or they can work with architects and designers on custom projects.


To see Builder’s complete list of reader’s choice products, click here. For more information on Meld or to request samples, contact us.

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