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.
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.”
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.
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.