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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!

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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.

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Carpet Gets Greener with Econyl Project

When Aquafil began manufacturing carpet fiber almost 50 years ago, sustainability wasn’t an option but a must.  Doing business in the Lake Garda region of Italy, where environmental protection has always been top priority, meant constantly innovating to keep up with strict mandates on noise, water, and air pollution. “Preserving the environment is in our DNA,” says Giulio Bonazzi, President and CEO of what is now the second largest worldwide supplier of Nylon 6 yarn for carpet producers like Interface and Desso. A timeline of unprecedented milestones, including the recovery and reuse of all their own internal production waste, has led to their most important environmental undertaking to date: the Econyl Recycling Project.

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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.

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Pallet House Prototype by I-Beam Design

Today my alma mater Southern Methodist University celebrates a new master’s degree program in sustainability and development.  The degree covers sustainability-related topics from policy to design in both developed and developing worlds.  SMU will kick off the endeavor mid-day Friday with London sustainability strategist Peter Bishop and the unveiling of a low-cost Pallet House prototype designed by I-Beam Design.

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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.

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