What’s The One Green Product …

When the Museum of Science and Technology in Chicago wanted a “smart” house on their grounds to showcase energy-efficient and healthy living at its best, architect Michelle Kaufmann was a natural choice to design it.  After all, her passion for sustainability, coupled with an impeccable eye for style and plenty of award-winning projects under her belt, has made Michelle an authority on good green design.  The Smart Home: Green and Wired exhibit has inspired thousands of visitors with its perfect mix of high and low-tech green building techniques, materials and gadgets in a friendly, modern setting.

Current and recent projects for Michelle Kaufmann Studio include a sustainable neighborhood, a co-housing complex for some very with-it Franciscan nuns, and several private residences for green-minded clients.  With so much hands-on experience with many of the materials and technologies we write about here at Jetson Green, I was eager to pick Michelle’s brain.

I proposed a series of open-ended questions starting with “What is the one green product …”, hoping the busy designer would find it a fun, thought-provoking exercise.  Luckily she did — and I hope you find her responses as illuminating and insightful as I have!


By |January 15th, 2012|Interview, Materials|6 Comments

Vanillawood Hearts Reclaimed Wood

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.


By |January 6th, 2012|Materials, Recycled|0 Comments

e2e Offers New Biocomposite Materials

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.


By |December 14th, 2011|Materials|0 Comments

Accsys Unveils Hardened Accoya Alder

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.


By |December 7th, 2011|Materials|1 Comment

DuPont Expands Corian Terra Surface Line

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.


By |December 6th, 2011|Materials, Surfaces|1 Comment

Cross-Laminated Timber Opens New Possibilities for Wood Construction

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.


By |December 2nd, 2011|Green Building, Materials|10 Comments