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VitraStone Eco-Friendly Sinks + Surfaces

Wedgesink 2314cgrey

I’m excited about this post.  When it comes to surface materials, there’s a lot out there, and I’ve blogged about a few companies that have good products.  Concrete countertops appear on house flipping-type shows every now and then, so I thought it was time we all got to know VitraStone.  VitraStone products are made from 70-85% recycled content (post consumer & post industrial) such as recycled glass and fly ash blended with a proprietary mix of ceramic cement.  Products in the VitraStone line up include vessel sinks, sink tops, countertop systems, back splash, floor tiles, wall cladding, and furniture and accessories.  VitraStone is strong, too.  Scratch and chip resistant.  Freeze/thaw cycle resistant.  Mold resistant.  VitraStone products come in a variety of colors (as you will see below) for interior and exterior applications.  No off-gassing here. 

Couple cool things about VitraStone:  (1) you may get LEED credits for using these materials, and (2) VitraStone offers free design services to create 3-dimensional layouts for client approvals (or they’ll work directly with architectural specifications).  Matter of fact, the green building store here in Salt Lake City carries VitraStone, so maybe I can push the old landlord into a green kitchen renovation?  Any thoughts …

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Even Montana Has LEED Platinum Buildings

25gb

Although it’s not all that attractive looking from these images, it’s the greenest building in Billings, Montana, and one of a select few buildings certified "Platinum" under the LEED-NC (new construction) certification system.  Using technology such as solar panels and composting toilets, it offices the Northern Plains Resource Council and consumes about 21% of the energy and 41% of the water of a similarly sized building.  Financially, the building cost about $140 psf, which is about $35 psf cheaper than if the older building had been demolished and a new one put in its place. 

In all honesty, there are only three other buildings in Montana that have green certifications from the USGBC.  BUT, this building, known as Home on the Range, has created a gathering place for local architects, students, and the public.  Now, there are 18 LEED projects in the registration phase in Montana.  That’s incredible.  We’re really getting some serious momentum behind this thing, that’s for sure. 

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Project7ten Goes for Platinum, Draws Celebrity Crowd

Project7ten

Project7ten proves that ultra green can look ultra good.  This is another cool residential home project that will get LEED certified at the Platinum level.  Actually, as one of only a few LEED Platinum homes in the country, this project could become the discourse for a greener home.  The home was designed by Melinda Gray, founder of GRAYmatter Architecture, and is currently under construction.  Upon completion in the fall, there will be an open house for everyone to see how good a green home can look.  710 Milwood Avenue, Venice, California.   

The event where project7ten was introduced drew a crazy celebrity crowd with the likes of Cindy Crawford, John Cusak, David Duchovny, Toby McGuire, Laird Hamilton, Gabrielle Reece, and Ed Begley Jr.  How’s that for some ‘razzi fodder? 

So what’s going to make this home so green?  Rainwater reclamation system and grey water recycling, locally-sourced sustainable materials, recycled content countertops and insulation, FSC-certified lumber, solar panels to power the home, and appropriate landscape to shade the home during the summer and allow light during the winter.  Also, there will be Energy Star appliances and Kohler water-efficient fixtures.  The lucky purchaser will get an 18-month lease on a Ford Escape Hybrid, too.  Not too shabby.  Plus, with all the sponsors lined up to support the project, the developer Minimal Productions will donate a share of proceeds to charity.  More images below the fold. 

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The Greenest Home in San Francisco – Clipper House by LORAX Development

The Greenest Home in San Francisco - The Clipper House

I read an excellent article about San Francisco’s Clipper House by LORAX Development in Solar Today magazine and wanted to share some info about it.  The Clipper House has become a showcase for residential sustainable features, basically showing off everything but the financial case for green building.  The 2,600 sf home was designed by John Maniscalco/Architecture, Inc., and was completed in the summer of 2006.  For a cool $1.9 M, you could probably purchase this incredible home–often referred to as the Greenest Home in San Francisco. 

If you do, here’s what you’re going to get:  1.7 kw DC photovoltaic array with BP Solar panels installed by SolarCity (total cost $16,700, net AR $11,543); 64 sf of solar thermal glazed collectors by Heliodyne ($6,750); warmboard radiant heating system using PEX tubing ($50,000); rainwater-catchment system by Wonderwater Inc. ($25,000); hemp carpets colored with vegetable dyes; low-VOC paints and caulks throughout; energy-efficient windows and doors; hardwood floors made from 100-yr-old TerraMai railroad ties from Southeast Asia; FSC-certified kitchen cabinets; Richlite kitchen counters made from recycled paper products; recycled blue jean insulation by Bonded Logic; 50-year warranty James Hardie fiber-cement siding made partially with fly ash; and recycled plastic and wood Trex composite decking.  The Clipper House certainly prioritizes energy-efficiency, properly sourced sustainable materials, and indoor air quality.  Real nice. 

Good Links:
++Pushing Boundaries, Advancing a Market [Solar Today]
++520 Clipper in Noe Valley: Smart, Green, Luxe [LORAX - PDF]
++Clipper Street Green Home Facts & Images [LORAX]

Botanical Visitor's Attraction: Eco Rainforest by Grimshaw

Eco Rainforest
Eco Rainforest

I’m not sure if this concept will make it into practice, but I like the idea.  We have zoos right?  Why not create a botanical visitor’s attraction of the tropical rain forest?  That’s the concept that Grimshaw Architects created and was rewarded with a 2007 MIPIM/AR Future Project Award in the Sustainability category.  Generally, here’s how it works: the enclosed greenhouse will create a tropical zone, a rain forest of sorts, housing both plant and animal life that people can walk through and study.  The goal of this man-made rain forest is to mimic the ecosystems from tropical regions of the world.  It will have 50 meter high gabion walls around the enclosure that contain composting tubes for heat generation during periods when the passive solar gain isn’t enough to sustain the tropical environment.  The idea is to harness the energy created by the decomposing biodegradable matter and re-create a tropical rain forest.  Grimshaw hopes that by doing so, the Rainforest will have the potential to grow fruits and vegetables with vastly reduced food miles. 

Transporting goods has a carbon cost associated with it, so people want to buy locally.  But climate can vary dramatically from one place to another making it tough to get some things locally…that is, unless you can recreate the climate of another area.  Think:  oranges in Canada.  To a small extent, this is what happens with a greenhouse.  Here, however, you are creating a greenhouse on a grand scale, one that is carbon neutral and cyclical.  It’s a good idea. 

Construction Waste: Singh Intrachooto + OSISU

Tilee Bench

Recently, I’ve run across the work of an environmentally friendly Thai architect named Singh Intrachooto.  Singh saw a problem in the industry and decided to do something to close the loop.  If you’ve ever been involved with construction of any form, you know there’s tons of wasted materials.  That’s where Singh comes in.  He takes left over scrap from construction sites and designs furniture with them, each piece being different depending on the size and shape of the materials that get salvaged.  Now, Singh’s furniture has exploded and is on display in Los Angeles and Paris.   

Singh sells the furniture via his website, OSISU, but I’m not necessarily advocating the purchase of his work.  It’s incredible and inspiring, but we have our own construction waste here in the U.S.  We have tons of it.  And it’s going straight to the landfill.  Why not find value in that trash?  Let’s close the loop and put good materials to use.  With Singh, it was just about 18 months ago that he decided to start making this furniture, and in his words, "people thought he was crazy."  Now it’s getting big-time coverage all over the media.  All it takes is asking the construction workers to set aside scraps like wood, steel, and concrete.  The pieces pictured were made from reclaimed teak morsels.  Via reuters

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