When Vanillawood founders Kricken and James Yaker outgrew their home office and started shopping for a design studio in Portland’s hot Pearl District, opening a retail store was the farthest thing from their mind. Yet they happened upon a 1000 square-foot warehouse with beautiful natural light and too-good-to-pass-up lease terms, so the design/build team seized the opportunity to showcase their organic contemporary style.
Wood, metals, and plastic are all beginning to give way to a new category of materials that combine the best properties of each along with advanced properties. Many of them come from renewable stock utilizing biomaterials as the raw ingredients. One manufacturer of such biocomposites is e2e Materials, which is producing a range of plant-based products which the company describes as “like a form molded plastic – but stronger, fire resistant, biodegradable and looks like wood.”
London and Dallas-based Accsys Technologies recently announced a new variant of the modified wood product Accoya, but this one is made with North American red alder. The company puts wood through a proprietary acetylation process in whichwood molecules that want to bond with water are replaced with more stable acetyl groups. This improves durability, hardness, water absorption, and dimensional stability.
It seems like manufacturers are turning to third parties to validate environmental claims with increasing frequency lately. For example, I just learned that DuPont expanded their Corian Terra line of solid surfaces and five colors have at least 20% pre-consumer recycled resin content, according to Scientific Certification Systems. Several other colors have at least 13% and the rest have a minimum of 6% pre-consumer recycled resin content. In addition, all colors are GREENGUARD certified; they’re non-porous and do not promote the growth of mold, mildew, or bacteria, according to DuPont.
Wood is a desirable construction material for many reasons including its low embodied energy. But, until recently, it has not been possible to build tall wooden structures because of the relative weakness of conventional wood stud construction methods. This is starting to change as a new method of fabricating wood panels, called cross-laminated timber, or CLT, is making “massive wood” construction a possibility for mid-rise construction, as well as for other construction uses.
Oregon-based Viridian Wood Products, maker of shipping pallet flooring, recently introduced a line of new architectural-grade veneer panels made with reclaimed North American wood. The 4’x8′ panels include old-growth redwood previously used in wine tanks, Oregon black walnut reclaimed from urban salvage, and old-growth Douglas fir from warehouse deconstruction.