February 1, 2003
An increasing number of environmentally responsible building materials are available to architects.
As traditional building materials grow scarcer and more expensive, architects must increasingly look to alternatives, be they recycled, renewably organic, or synthetic. Before choosing a material a good designer takes into account its environmental impact: Given the life span of the building how will the material age? Will it add to the building’s efficiency? Will it degrade environmental air quality?
Already the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system is helping architects navigate the obstacles to designing a green building. When the LEED for commercial interiors criteria are formalized later this year, designers will be even better equipped. LEED addresses issues such as selecting sustainable sites, water-usage efficiency, and energy performance.
The products shown here offer a variety of options for creating smarter interiors. Before specifying any material, be sure to contact the manufacturer for the product’s life-cycle assessment and ask if it’s LEED-compliant. The more designers and clients demand sustainable products, the more manufacturers will create them to meet that need.
1 Abet Laminati’s Metalleido Monocore 3D is a remarkably strong lightweight panel that has been used in boats, trains, and elevators. Consisting of a 3-D glass-fiber fabric that is combined with resin to create a structure that has excellent fire-resistant and smoke-toxicity properties, it can be laminated from a range of more than 400 decorative options.
(800) 228-2238 or (201) 541-0700; www.abetlaminati.com
2 Crossville’s Geo Stone porcelain stone tiles are made from reclaimed unfired raw material left over from the company’s regular tile-manufacturing process. These affordable durable tiles (30 percent harder than granite) have a long life cycle, resulting in fewer replacements and reduced waste. Available in five “stone-look” colors.
(800) 221-9093; www.crossville-ceramics.com
3 Bisazza Gloss Tile is made of smooth iridescent three-quarter-inch squares of glass. Available in 12 colors, the flat tiles change shades when viewed from different angles.
(305) 597-4099; www.bisazzausa.com
4 Elsro Comfortwalk asphalt-plank tile is designed specifically to withstand the abuse of heavy equipment while still providing underfoot comfort for human traffic. A nontoxic industrial flooring made of postconsumer recycled material and postindustrial by-products, this long-lasting product is a cost-effective alternative to wood block, rubber, and vinyl flooring. Available in black, red, or gray.
Available through Robin Reige Art & Objects:
5 Dow Woodstalk is a new fiberboard made from renewable wheat straw that is a good alternative to medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and high-quality particleboard. It contains no formaldehyde (a common ingredient in both MDF panels and particleboard), releases virtually no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere, and is 10 to 20 percent lighter than most fiberboard.
6 Forbo’s Marmoleum is a linoleum made from readily renewable natural ingredients suitable for flooring, furniture surfacing, and tackable surfaces. The organic product has a long useful life, because as it is exposed to air it hardens and becomes more durable.
(800) 842-7839; www.forbolinoleumna.com
7 Ceres Cork flooring products are made from natural renewable cork and are available in glue-down parquet tiles, with or without veneer, or in tongue-in-groove planks. They come in an assortment of colors and patterns, and are durable, sound absorbent, hypoallergenic, and resistant to both insects and fire.
(888) 377-8800; www.cerescork.com
8 Näss Fresco Plaster Finishes is a two-coat system designed to give interior walls and ceilings the appearance of an antique Italian fresco. You can choose from more than 4,000 colors or order a custom color or texture. The water-based top coat is nontoxic and has a low VOC rating.
(866) 373-7261; www.frescoplaster.com
9 Thermonda is a translucent polycarbonate sheet that adds an extra dimension to traditional flat multiwall products. It is lightweight, making it easy to transport and quick to install, is long-lasting, and has high light transmission properties. Available in 3mm (clear and opal) and 6mm (clear, opal, and blue) thicknesses. Available in the U.S.
and Canada through SUNTUF.