The photograph above may not be what you would expect. The outdoor bench in this detail is not made from an unsustainably harvested tropical hardwood. The wood itself is actually maple, a widely available species that can be farmed and harvested without ripping up acres of rainforest. But maple and many other similar woods are too susceptible to decay and rot when used unprotected outdoors. The usual alternative has been treatment with chemical pressure treatment. Now, through a method called kebonization, a Norwegian company, Kebony ASA, treats soft woods in a non-toxic process that allows readily available woods to be used for outdoor uses.
When it comes picking a green surface material, there's a lot out there to choose from. And we're going to give you another option, Elements by Durcon. Elements is made with 10% post-consumer recycled glass, an epoxy resin, and fine quartz. Available in five main colors, Elements is non-porous and has inherent anti-fungal and anti-microbial characteristics. The surface does not require sealing, and according to Durcon, it will not off-gas.
Alright, so it's not exactly brand new — Kirei introduced Chocolate Bamboo back in September 2008 — but it has this deep, sophisticated look and we just haven't had the chance to mention it yet (well, Re-nest jogged our memory). The dark color is obtained through a secret, dark carbonizing process. The bamboo is made from sustainably harvested Moso bamboo grass and a low- or no-added urea formaldehyde adhesive to create the panels. If you're looking for something like this, look up a dealer.
Boulder, Colorado-based Parasoleil makes these panels from a variety of so called green materials, such as FSC-certified wood, aluminum, and steel. The copper panels, in particular, are interesting. Using 90-95% recycled content copper, these panels are made in a zero waste process that uses efficient waterjet manufacturing. And they're 100% recyclable, too. I've shown a variety of panels in this article, as well as a playful powder-coated application (above) and steel and copper patinas images (below).
Photographer John B. Carnett just launched a monthly blog called Green Dream on Popular Science. You're probably going to want to follow it. On Green Dream, Carnett's sharing his experience building a dream home using geeky, affordable, green technology. I was drawn in by one of his early articles on the framing / insulation system that he's using to eliminate thermal bridging.