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✳ Affordably Sustainable in Portland | Getting Past Greenwashing | Decking | Building Science: Vapor Barriers

MAY | JUNE 2009

Best Practices
Partnerships with the DOE’s Building America program and
IBACOS guide studio26’s high-performance mission.

Circle no. 51
Circle no. 32
May | June 2009 contents

Case Studies
orefield, pa.: private residence
Partnerships with Building America and IBACOS
push this NAHB-Gold home to the highest levels
of energy efficiency. | PAGE 18

portland, ore.: helensview heights
Going green is only part of the means to sustainability
in this vibrant affordable community. | PAGE 24

keeping them honest
A guide to getting past greenwashing and
understanding product certifications. | PAGE 30

Eco-friendly options for wood, composite, and
plastic decking. | PAGE 38

Get more green at,
editor’s note
Thorough product assessment and understanding
including Web-exclusive case studies, green can help you move from gray to green. | PAGE 7
builder profiles, and product category reviews.
You’ll also find: ecoupdate
Indiana development earns ANSI certification |
■ Green-product videos from ECOHOME Online Southwall expands | K. Hovnanian’s Concept Home |
Chief Editor Jean Dimeo. Santa Fe enacts green building regulations | PAGE 9

■ Breaking news and trends. building science
Understanding vapor barriers. | PAGE 13
■ Green articles from BUILDER, REMODELING, and
other leading publications produced by new + notable
Hanley Wood, publisher of ECOHOME. Showerheads, paint, pavers, and more. | PAGE 44

■ Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter. greenwatch
Conceptual design borrows from nature. | PAGE 48


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MAY | JUNE 2009 3
AIA credits
EDITOR IN CHIEF Rick Schwolsky

303.473.9640 |
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202.736.3301 | Extension Service Program for Resource Efficient Communities

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Circle no. 48
Circle no. 14
editor’s note

Gray to Green

ithin the gray in a while came from attorney Patrick
areas that exist Perrone during a session at the NAHB’s
between vague, recent National Green Building
vacuous Conference in Dallas: “Only after
product claims assessing products as building products
and proven should you evaluate their green
performance lies a no-mans-land for attributes.”
green building professionals seeking Instead of asking, “How many green
reliable specs. Even with the growing points can I earn by using a product?”
numbers of labels and certifications Perrone suggests asking the following
that substantiate to varying degrees questions: “Will it perform its most
“eco-friendly” claims, not enough important function?” “How long is its
manufacturers are seeking third-party warranty period?” “Is it readily avail-
certifications; too many are still making able?” “How does it compare with the
broad, sweeping, and, frankly, meaning- products I know and use now?” “Does it
less statements. have a performance track record and
Rick Schwolsky Product selection will continue to be meet industry standards and code
Editor in Chief one of the most critical challenges you requirements?” “Is its performance tied will face in meeting your green mis- to unfamiliar installation practices?”
sions—and that puts your business and This is solid advice that empowers
reputation at risk. you, through your own experience and
As a former high-performance home expertise, to filter out products that
builder, I know what this feels like. would put you outside your comfort
You’re caught between a commitment to zone in terms of unknowns and risks.
build high-performance homes that will Only after evaluating potential
strengthen your business and your selections for their application as viable
responsibilities to build homes that building products can you focus on
perform their most basic functions their green attributes and performance
without creating problems—or liabili- benefits and how they’ll integrate with
ties—that could weaken your business. the other elements of your green
You’re stuck in another gray area, projects. Then you should ask, “What
between innovation and risk. makes these products green?” “How
“Nobody,” builders often say, “wants can I avoid greenwashing?” “How do I
to be the first to try out a new product,” verify manufacturers’ performance
and yet we’re driven to embrace change claims?”
and improve the way we build. This As you’ll see in Aurora Sharrard’s
dilemma puts pressure on every feature article “Keeping Them Honest”
decision you make, whether it’s (page 30), navigating your way toward
detailing a wall section, specifying reliable answers to these questions is
ventilation equipment, or selecting still troublesome and often imperfect.
finishes. But solutions are emerging, mostly
You have to find a reliable level of because green building professionals
confidence in your decisions and are demanding more substantiated data
balance the trade-offs associated with from manufacturers and are pressuring
them. But how can you gain the them to back up their claims with

confidence you need? One of the third-party certifications. Follow
clearest suggestions about sizing-up Sharrard’s advice and you’ll find your
green building products that I’ve heard way out of the gray and into the green.

MAY | JUNE 2009 7
Circle no. 11

Indiana Development
First to Achieve ANSI
The Village in Burns Harbor offers certified homes, a
walkable town center, and proximity to public transit. COMING SOON | Ford’s
Fuel-Efficient Van

he NAHB announced that program emphasizes avoiding impact on
The Village in Burns Harbor, environmentally sensitive areas, protecting
a development in North-
west Indiana, is the first to
natural features, and minimizing and mitigat-
ing disturbances from construction, especially
S tandard commercial vehicles often are too
heavy duty for smaller pros, and SUVs,
minivans, and cars don’t provide the necessary
earn a land development as they relate to slope disturbance, stormwater convenience and durability. Ford’s solution:
certification under the ANSI management, and landscaping. Points also are the Transit Connect light-duty commercial van,
700-2008 National Green Building Standard. available for increasing residential density and coming to the U.S. this summer. The vehicle
When complete, the neo-traditional com- mixed-use, pedestrian walkways, minimized stores materials more efficiently than consumer
munity will include a mix of 265 residential street widths, and access to public transit. vehicles, but is more compact than a standard
units along with a town center containing The Village’s 60-acre site sits on unused commercial van, which makes it easier to
retail and commercial space. Sixty homes farmland and abandoned commercial prop- maneuver on city streets. It’s also more fuel
have been built so far; two by Coolman erties, and is within 5 miles of two train sta- efficient, offering 22 mpg city and 25 mpg
Communities achieved Silver in the NAHB’s tions and a bus stop, meeting the Standard’s highway, according to Ford. The van offers
Model Green Home Building Guidelines. requirement for mass transit access points. a 1,600-pound payload capacity; high-tech
Following the approval of the National “The development is designed around pe- options include an in-dash computer and fleet
Green Building Standard by ANSI, developer destrian activity and parks with access to the management software. Transit Connect has a
T. Clifford Fleming revised The Village’s re- town center,” says NAHB program verifier base price of $21,475. —Victoria Markovitz
quirements so that all remaining homes will Chris Schwarzkopf of Energy Diagnostics in
have to earn a minimum ANSI-Silver rating. Valparaiso, Ind. “The roads are narrower to
Land development certification is governed reduce impermeable materials, a retention Just Out | Southwall
by Chapter 4 of the National Standard, “Site pond collects rain runoff and is already at- Technologies Expands
Design and Development,” which awards a tracting wildlife, and we protected large trees
range of points for subsections targeting site and landscaped with native species.”
selection, mission and goals, site design, site
development, and innovative practices. The
For more, visit www.villageinburnsharbor.
com. —Rick Schwolsky
S outhwall Technologies revolutionized window
performance in 1979 when it introduced
Heat Mirror, the clear selective film that launched
the industry’s search for higher efficiencies and
Meadow Planting
has contributed to improvements in windows
Prairie Planting ever since. And while Southwall continues to sell
films to leading window and door manufacturers,

the company is now manufacturing its own
Windbreak Planting branded insulated glass. “The new subsidiary,
Existing Trees Southwall Insulating Glass, will produce all types
to Remain of Heat Mirror units,” says company spokesman
Paving John Miller, “including single-, double-, and
triple-film units providing R-6 all the way up to
R-20 center of glass.” The focus, however, will
The Village in Burns be on single-film insulating units, given their two-
Harbor landscape and site
times performance over conventional double-
development plan.
Bio-Swales pane glazings. —Rick Schwolsky
Shade Trees
MAY | JUNE 2009 9

K. Hovnanian Unveils
Concept Home
Tankless water heating, efficient HVAC add to as a member of Building America’s IBACOS
research team has allowed the builder to test
builder’s existing high-performance standard. out new technologies to determine which are
appropriate and cost-efficient to mainstream

rom the outside, K. Hovnanian’s two- The Concept Home builds on those into its standard offerings.
story Building America Concept Home system-wide improvements with technologies In addition to serving as testing ground for
doesn’t look any different than its neigh- including tankless water heating, a 96% AFUE Hovnanian, the Concept Home provides an
bors in Woodbridge, Va.’s Eagles Pointe devel- furnace, energy recovery ventilation, and interactive showcase for buyers. A mockup
opment. But inside—and inside the walls—the photovoltaics, for a dwelling that scored a 50 of the framing structure demonstrates details
house is swelling with construction details on the Department of Energy’s E-scale. consumers typically do not see nor know they
and products that set a standard for efficiency “It’s not only a demonstration of the energy need to care about, while a section of the base-
while setting aside home buyers’ preconceived efficiency and high performance that we build ment is a living laboratory demonstrating the
notions about what “going green” means. into every home, but also features methods tankless water heater, photovoltaics, energy
The house starts with the features of the that we’re testing and will be able to imple- recovery, and other products. Feedback follow-
High Performance Home (HPH), the builder’s ment going forward,” Tom Pellerito, Landover ing the tours helps the builder gauge buyer
standard in Mid-Atlantic markets. Implement- Group president for K. Hovnanian, said during interest in the technologies it’s testing.
ed over the past year without raising prices, the grand opening. “There are going to be thousands of
the HPH standard includes improvements K. Hovnanian’s efforts are one result of its people who are going to come through this
such as a 90% AFUE furnace, a 14-SEER heat nine-year partnership in the Department of home and learn what it’s all about,” said Nate
pump for the second zone, sealed ductwork, Energy’s Building America research initia- Kredich, vice president of residential market
supplemental spray-foam insulation at critical tive; the builder also has taken the DOE’s development for the USGBC, who was on
areas, optimized framing, and advanced drain- Builders Challenge, a voluntary outreach hand to award the home LEED certification.
age planes. The dwelling is 32% more efficient program that aims to build the most energy- The project also was recognized for achiev-
than the DOE benchmark for new homes, and efficient, high-performance homes on the ing Energy Star and a Gold level rating under
Hovnanian estimates it saves $1,659 per year market with the eventual goal of net-zero the ANSI National Green Building Standard.
in energy costs. energy for all homes by 2030. Participation —Katy Tomasulo

The California Building Industry Association has endorsed two voluntary green building programs: California Green Builder,
developed by the Building Industry Institute, and GreenPoint Rated, developed by Build It Green in the Bay Area. …The USGBC
reports that, through April, 2,143 new homes have achieved LEED for Homes certification. The NAHB reports that more than 1,500
new homes and remodeling projects are currently being scored to the National Green Building Standard using the online scoring
tool at …The NAHB Research Center launched its “Green Approved” product rating system, which certifies
that a product can earn homes points under the National Green Building Standard. …On May 12, the Colorado General Assembly
passed a bill to provide the same financial incentives for solar thermal installations in residential and commercial buildings as those
currently provided for solar photovoltaic systems in the state. …The planned 17,000-acre Babcock Ranch development in Florida,
targeted to get underway later this year, will be powered entirely by the sun via on-site solar facilities. The community will include
19,500 homes, a “smart grid,” greenways and open space, electric car chargers, green roofs, and sustainable water management
and conservation. —Excerpted from online reports. To view full versions of these news items, plus additional daily green building
coverage, visit

10 MAY | JUNE 2009
Circle no. 62

Santa Fe Enacts Green Home Building Regulations
New single-family homes must meet code requirements covering six categories.

ffective July 1, Santa Fe, N.M., will certification based on their heated gross floor under ½ acre or 546 total points for sites ½
mandate green building codes for all area and lot size as follows: acre or larger.
new single-family homes. The new code ■ Silver (minimum requirement for homes ■ Platinum Plus: bonus for a HERS rating
comprises six categories relating to green up to 3,000 square feet): HERS index of 70; of 15.
building: project implementation plan and must earn at least 359 total points for sites ■ Emerald (minimum requirement for
lot development; resource efficiency; energy under ½ acre or 363 total points for sites homes 8,001 square feet and greater): HERS
efficiency; water efficiency; indoor environ- ½ acre or larger. index of 0; must therefore perform in a man-
mental quality; and operation, maintenance, ■ Silver Plus: bonus for a lower HERS rating ner that produces no greenhouse gases to meet
and sustainable practices. of 60. its operational energy needs. It shall also earn
Builders can achieve one of the eight ■ Gold (minimum requirement for homes at least 623 total points for sites under ½ acre
rating levels based on a point system that sets up to 5,000 square feet): HERS index of 50; and 629 total points for sites ½ acre or larger.
a minimum point total for each category. In must earn at least 448 total points for sites ■ Emerald Plus: bonus for a HERS rating
addition, the code requires all new single- under ½ acre or 452 total points for sites of -10.
family residential units to be tested and certi- ½ acre or larger. The city will rely on HERS raters, city inspec-
fied according to the enhancements to the na- ■ Gold Plus: bonus for lower HERS rating tors, specialty third-party verifiers, and the
tional Home Energy Rating Standards (HERS) of 40. project’s builder and systems installers for field
as adopted by the Residential Energy Services ■ Platinum (minimum requirement for verification of required materials, components,
Network (RESNET). homes up to 8,000 square feet): HERS index of features, and performance. For more informa-
New homes must meet one of eight levels of 25; must earn at least 542 total points for sites tion, visit —Peter Merrill

to Hanley Wood’s Jesse H. Neal
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ARCHITECT Hanley Wood is committed

ECOHOME to publishing quality content

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Circle no. 55
VAPOR BARRIERS | building science

Understanding Vapor Barriers
Interpreting the codes and the science behind one of home
building’s most misunderstood materials.

he residential building industry continuous, sealed, or free of holes; a perforation
has enough controversial construc- in a VDR simply allows more vapor diffusion
tion techniques, incorrect product in that area compared with other areas where
applications, antiquated codes, and vapor diffusion is less restrictive.
old wives’ tales to confuse anybody VDRs are rated by the level of vapor diffusion
seeking the right way to build. And control they provide.
vapor barriers rank high on that list. Few builders A material’s ability to retard the diffusion of
truly understand how they work and why to use water vapor is defined in terms of its permeability
them. Adding to the confusion is the fact that in units known as “perms.” This is a measure of the
determining whether or not you should be install- number of grains of water vapor passing through
ing a vapor barrier depends on the home’s loca- a square foot of material per hour at a known
Mark LaLiberte
tion. Unfortunately, this misunderstanding can differential vapor pressure. Any material with a
President of LaLiberteOnline Inc. lead to catastrophic envelope failures and mold perm rating of less than 0.10 is considered a Class 1
and a principal of Building issues. vapor retarder.
Knowledge Inc., Mark LaLiberte
ing consultant who helps builders First I want to clear up the common confusion The original reason for using vapor barriers was
nationwide understand and apply between “vapor barriers” and “air barriers.” This a good one: to prevent wall and ceiling assemblies
proper building science construction misunderstanding arises because air typically holds from getting wet. In practice, we now understand
principles to improve their homes. a great deal of moisture in the form of vapor. When that when VDRs are installed on the interior of an; vapor-laden air moves from one location to an- assembly, they also prevent inward drying. This other, the vapor moves with it. A well-installed air can lead to significant moisture problems and
barrier controls both the flow of air and the flow of mold; problems occur when walls get wet during
moisture. If you were looking for another reason to construction or more often throughout the home’s
be paying close attention to the proper installation life. These wetting cycles can be from air flow,
of air barriers, this is it. window leaks, pressure imbalances, and a host of
Controlling air movement should be your first lifestyle issues. Below-grade spaces are particu-
priority in the energy-efficiency game, and it also larly vulnerable. The increasing complexity of wall
provides excellent moisture control. Pay close systems also fuels the issue.
attention to every location that air will flow, using Then there’s the climate variable. Much of the
blocking, gaskets, and foam. For more informa- confusion about the correct use of VDRs is the
tion on the correct use of air barriers, visit the result of research reports and anecdotal informa-
Web sites of Building Science Corp. at tion. Almost all of this research was conducted, Building America at in cold climates and focused on the flow of vapor, or the Air Barrier from inside to outside in winter months; it did not
Association at consider vapor movement in other climates, nor
Properly defined, a vapor barrier alone does not how moisture flow occurs from outside to inside
control air movement; it controls the movement when using air conditioning in humid summer
of moisture. In fact, a vapor barrier is not actually months. When moisture flows from a more humid
a barrier; it’s a vapor diffusion retarder (VDR). A exterior environment into the wall system in air-
VDR regulates moisture flow from inside out or conditioned climates, condensation could occur on
from outside in at the molecular level. This mois- the cooled interior VDR. You can see that if low-

ture control function happens wherever the VDR perm poly were used, condensation on this surface
is used in the structure. Therefore, unlike an air is possible.
infiltration barrier, the VDR does not have to be Cladding choices can further complicate the

MAY | JUNE 2009 13
building science | VAPOR BARRIERS


Warm interior Air conditioned

Wind moisture

Cold Drywall Drywall
exterior Hot exterior

Moisture movement is affected by exterior-to-interior vapor flow. When some CertainTeed. This innovative product looks and
seasonal changes as well as climate claddings, such as brick and traditional stucco, get installs like poly, but it behaves like a vapor diode,
characteristics, which will define your wet, they can retain significant amounts of water allowing the perm rate to increase as the vapor
best strategies and options. Even in
and require longer drying times. In hot and pressure increases. This means that if installed on
cold climates, moisture will move from
hot exteriors to cooler interiors in the humid weather, moisture is drawn inward as the the interior side of the wall system, it will meet the
summer, which places new emphasis sun heats these surfaces, increasing the vapor Class II requirements by reducing the amount of
on proper selection and placement of pressure on the assembly. This could add unwant- vapor entering the wall in the winter months. But
vapor retarders. ed moisture as well. The best strategy for this one should the wall system be subjected to a larger flow
is venting the masonry claddings and replacing of moisture from outside or from wet materials
the poly VDR with a higher-perm product like inside the wall system, the product becomes more
paint that will let the wall system cycle over vapor open. The perm rate rises, based on the
the seasons. increased vapor pressure. This sounds like magic,
THE NUMBERS but in the world of materials science it’s actually
The current code has the BEST PRACTICES quite simple.
following definitions:
It’s not just builders who are confused. Many build- For other zones, I recommend applying a good
Class I Vapor Retarder: 0.1 perm
or less ing code officials misunderstand or misinterpret quality wall primer to all unprimed drywall, in
the requirements. Just because it was done that lieu of traditional VDRs. Prior to priming, drywall
Class II Vapor Retarder: 1.0 perm way 20 years ago, doesn’t mean it will work the has a perm rate of about 50. After a couple coats
or less and greater than 0.1 perm same way in today’s modern wall systems. Some of latex paint, that perm rate is reduced to 2 or 3.
jurisdictions are becoming more flexible, and that In most climates, this degree of vapor control will
Class III Vapor Retarder: 10 perm is a welcome change. be quite adequate and meets the Class III require-
or less and greater than 1.0 perm
Current IBC/IRC specifications (see “The Num- ments shown in “The Numbers.”
The current proposals are to bers,” left) for VDRs factor the classification of the For more information, visit the IRC Web site
define them this way: material’s perm rate with the location’s climatic at, where you can purchase and
Vapor impermeable: 0.1 perm conditions (see Figure 2, page 16). Future code read the latest code book. Otherwise, get a copy
or less directions will most likely specify the use of more of the Builders Guide Series for your climate from
permeable products in building assemblies: the Building Science Press (www.buildingscience
Vapor semi-impermeable: use of paint, rather than poly, for instance. Until all
1.0 perm or less and greater than
codes reflect current building science knowledge,
0.1 perm

and provide climate-specific material specifica- A FINAL NOTE
Vapor semi-permeable: 10 perms tions, you need to be wary of selecting a VDR with Though I advocate a more liberal approach to
or less and greater than 1.0 perm a perm rating that’s too low or placing it in the VDRs, this doesn’t mean I am unconcerned about
wrong location. moisture control. On the contrary, I believe it is
Vapor permeable: greater than If in doubt, I recommend using Class I and absolutely critical that we control and manage the
10 perms Class II VDRs only in the coldest Zones, 7 and 8. movement of moisture in structures. Used cor-
In these zones, use a product like MemBrain from rectly and in the right climate, vapor

14 MAY | JUNE 2009
Circle no. 53
building science | VAPOR BARRIERS


diffusion retarders can be an important
part of a comprehensive solution to effec-
tive moisture management.
To manage moisture effectively, we need
to control both air movement and mois-
ture flow. The two are always intertwined.
Sometimes one product, such as spray foam,
addresses both issues. In other cases, we can
achieve success with a well installed and
properly sealed weather resistive barrier
like housewrap or an alternate system of
spray-on coatings, or even SIPs. Remember:
Always give careful consideration to the
location and quality of the air barriers and
water management details you use, and train
the people on your crews to properly install

Match your moisture-management strategies and details to regional conditions in your climate zone. Joseph Lstiburek, Ph.D., principal of Build-
(Go to and click on Vapor Barrier Code Changes.) ing Science Corp., contributed to this article.

✳ For more building science articles,

Circle no. 59
0C7:27<5>@=2C1BA^`SaS\babVS2nd annual Green Product Awards. HOW TO ENTER
3\bS`g]c`<3EU`SS\]`acabOW\OPZS^`]RcQbaT]``SQ]U\WbW]\ Enter online at
See Web site for entry requirements,
O[]\U[]`SbVO\PcWZRW\U^`]TSaaW]\OZaEW\\S`a]T eligibility and judging details.
0C7:27<5>@=2C1BA[OUOhW\S]\bVSebuildESPaWbSO\RW\ Entry form and fee deadline:
June 19, 2009
Entry materials due via email:
July 3, 2009
Kohler –>S`acORS2cOZ4ZcaVB]WZSb
Bosch –3d]ZcbW]\O\R7\bSU`O2WaVeOaVS`a The Green Product Awards are open to all
categories of residential building products.
Soil Retention –2`WdOPZS5`Oaa Products will be judged on their green/
sustainable attributes (such as energy
Carlisle –4A11S`bW¿SR/\bW_cSEWRS>ZO\Y4Z]]`a efficiency, resource efficiency, health and
comfort, etc.), their innovation and their
ICI Paints –<]D=14`SaVOW`S1V]WQS>OW\b overall value to residential contractors
employing green building practices.
Building products, materials and technolo-
gies introduced between January 2008
and April 2009. Nominations accepted
Enterg]c`\Se^`]RcQbab]ROg from manufacturers or from public relations
and advertising representatives.
Call 202.736.3308 or
a]c`QSaW\bVSQ]\ab`cQbW]\ e-mail
Project: Private Residence, Orefield, Pa.
Size: 4,768 square feet; 7,365 with basement
Cost: Undisclosed
Completed: July 2008
Certifications: NAHB-Gold
HERS rating: 54
Architect: Alan Mascord Design Assoc.,
Portland, Ore., and studio26 homes
General Contractor/Interior Designer:
studio26 homes
Kitchen: Kitchens by WIPCO, Allentown, Pa.

18 MAY | JUNE 2009


hen the Bakers—father James and sons Scott
and Brian—launched studio26 homes five
years ago, green was still just a buzzword in
Eastern Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. But the
trio saw the deepening shift in consumer awareness and
decided to make super-energy-efficient houses their calling
card. For starters, their goal was to reduce energy use by at
least 40% compared to other homes built to code.
The Bakers tapped the brain trust at Building America, a
research program sponsored by the U.S. Department of
Energy. And to make sure their best practices keep hitting the
benchmarks, every studio26 project is analyzed by Integrated
Building and Construction Solutions (IBACOS), a Building
America partner consortium that offers energy modeling.
“They do takeoffs of our plans and specs and also work
through a general HVAC design,” says Brian, studio26 homes’
vice president of marketing and design.
The latest result of that collaboration is a house in Orefield
that earned a Gold rating under NAHB’s Model Green Home
Building Guidelines. Its 542 points, earned primarily through
PHOTO: JOHN STERLING RUTH PHOTOGRAPHY indoor air quality and an airtight building envelope that

MAY | JUNE 2009 19
Due to its ultra-tight construc-
PENNSYLVANIA RESIDENCE tion, this home “breathes”
through its Trane FreshEffects
energy recovery ventilator,
which continuously exchanges
stale air with fresh air and
transfers heat and moisture
between incoming and
outgoing air via a dual-cham-
ber pipe. Before the incoming
air is distributed through the
home, a Trane CleanEffects air
cleaner removes up to 99.98%
of airborne allergens,
according to the company.
Circle 311.

The house’s 120 aluminum-clad-wood triple-pane windows and patio doors are Energy
Star–rated Pella Designer Series with between-the-glass blinds, providing a U-value of
0.23 and an SHGC of 0.26. 800.374.4758. Circle 312.

A sunroom/smoking room with a ceramic minimizes thermal bridging, far Craftsman style also plays into passive
tile floor on the house’s southwest side exceeded the Gold minimum of 395 cooling with deep overhangs, porches,
soaks up solar rays. It’s sealed off from the points. and a long Trex deck across the back
rest of the house with gasketed exterior In this case, the design team began that shades the walk-out basement.
wood doors, insulation, and polyethylene with a significant asset on its side: The Given Pennsylvania’s cold winters,
sheeting, and is served by a separate
1.2-acre parcel’s gentle, south-facing super-insulating the walls was a top
Mitsubishi MUZ-A12NA variable-speed
down slope provided the ideal condi- priority. The builders installed an Xi
ductless mini-split system with R410A
refrigerant and a Panasonic WhisperCeiling tions for passive solar heating and concrete-and-Styrofoam foundation
exhaust fan for adequate room ventilation. daylighting. To ensure sufficient sun system from Superior Walls made of
Mitsubishi: 800.433.4822. exposure throughout the day, not only 10¼-inch-thick, 10-foot-high sections
Circle 313. Panasonic: 800.405.0652. www. for passive solar gain but for a future PV pre-insulated to R-12.5. Circle 314. installation, the Bakers rotated the house And to increase the energy perfor-
to within 20 degrees of due south. With mance of the foundation walls, the crew
the long axis running east-west and the installed R-21 formaldehyde-free Johns
rear facing south, all three levels are Manville fiberglass batts into the stud
open to solar gain and are filled with cavities, which raised the basement
natural light. The contemporary walls’ overall R-value to 33.5.

20 MAY | JUNE 2009
James C. Baker
Brian M. Baker
Scott A. Baker

One benefit of a green startup is that
there are no old standards to purge.
When James Baker, president, and sons
Brian, vice president of marketing and
design, and Scott, vice president of
operations, set up their design/build/
develop company in 2004, they spent
months assembling a core subcontractor
team. “We said our houses will be
different than any you’ve built before,”
says Brian. “We turned away some [subs]
who were talented but not open-minded
enough for what we were trying to do.”
The builder’s test run—a team effort
with IBACOS—was a Building America
Demonstration Home that Brian built for
his family. Pennsylvania’s first LEED-Silver
home, it served not only as field training
for the subcontractor team, but is also a
model for prospective clients. Eighteen
ROOFING AND SIDING MOISTURE INSULATION months of energy monitoring showed it to
CertainTeed MANAGEMENT First- and second-floor be 49% more efficient than a standard
Independence lifetime Given its location in a walls are blanketed in code-compliant house. With just the three
asphalt shingles earned climate where moisture formaldehyde-free Johns partners on staff and a subcontractor team
green points for the levels are significant for Manville Spider blown-in numbering about 50, studio26 is currently
home’s proximity to the most of the year, the insulation, which provides working on a 44-acre conservation
manufacturing plant. house has a CertainTeed an R-value of 23 in the 2x6 community with a dozen dwellings.
James Hardie integrally MemBrain vapor barrier walls. Closed-cell In addition to applying the latest
colored fiber-cement between the insulation spray-foam insulation by building-science practices, the company
siding offers durability and drywall. It’s Tiger Foam seals up includes solar-ready wiring standard.
while saving the need engineered to let walls hard-to-reach corners, “Our goal is to be the leader in Eastern
for on-site painting. breathe by allowing headers, sill plates, and Pennsylvania for green building and
CertainTeed: 800.233.8990. water vapor to pass band joists. Johns design, and eventually to get to through when humidity Manville: 800.654.3103. net-zero energy,” Baker says. In 2007,
Circle 315. James Hardie: levels reach 30% or Circle the Pennsylvania Builder’s Association

888.542.7343. www. more. 800.233.8990. 318. Tiger Foam: 800. recognized their progress with a 664.0063. www.tigerfoam. Building Innovation Award. —C.W.
Circle 316. Circle 317. com. Circle 319.

The builders tightened the 2x6 needed in the house, Baker says, thanks in
wood-framed envelope by adding part to the use of CertainTeed’s
1-inch extruded polystyrene to the MemBrain, a “smart” vapor retarder
exterior. All the wood-framed walls stapled to the studs between the insulation
were tightly insulated with blown-in, and drywall. “When there’s a certain level
R-23 Johns Manville Spider Custom of humidity in the wall, the pores of the
Insulation, installed at 1.8 pounds per vapor retarder will begin to open and
square foot to fill gaps. Using these allow vapor to emit into the house, where
measures, studio26 was able to beat it can be flushed out and absorbed by the
Building America targets for air leakage. ventilation system,” he says.
A blower-door test showed 0.101 NACH Indoor air quality was clearly at the
(natural air exchanges per house), center of the mechanical equipment
compared to the benchmark 0.131 choices and techniques. The project
NACH. A duct-blaster test resulted in earned indoor environmental quality
0.5% air leakage, an improvement over points with the use of a Trane energy
Building America’s 1% target. recovery ventilator that exchanges heat
No humidifier or dehumidifier is between stale air being exhausted and

MAY | JUNE 2009 21

cooler fresh air being introduced to the
system, a Trane CleanEffects whole-
house air cleaner, and a separate HVAC
system in the sun room on the house’s
southwest corner, where one of the
owners enjoys the occasional cigar.
The interior materials marry
craftsmanship, cleanliness, and sustain-
ability. MAB Enviro-Pure paints emit no
VOCs, oak floors and birch cabinetry
were sourced in Pennsylvania, and the
appliances are Energy Star certified.
Finally, like each of studio26’s
projects, the house is pre-wired for
future addition of solar panels. It’s one
more component of a smart, sophisti-
cated home designed to reduce energy
costs and provide a healthy, comfortable PLUMBING
atmosphere. A PEX manifold system from Watts delivers heated water directly from tank to tap rather than
filling the entire piping system with water, and PEX tubing resists corrosion and retains heat

Cheryl Weber is a freelance writer in better than copper. The plumbing manifold, located in a central utility room, is a control
center for hot and cold water that feeds flexible supply lines (red for hot, blue for cold) directly
Lancaster, Pa.
to individual fixtures. The cold-water manifold is fed from the main water supply line and the
hot-water manifold is fed from the water heater. Two propane-fueled 0751 Series Noritz

✳ For more case studies,
tankless water heaters work in tandem to supply hot water. Watts: 978.688.1811. www.watts.
com. Circle 320. Noritz: 866.766.7489. Circle 321.

ebuild is the destination for
construction pros searching
for information about building
products. ebuild is a source of
new product coverage, trends
and news. Pros visit ebuild to
learn how to do their jobs faster,
safer and easier. ebuild connects
pros to product manufacturers,
experts and peers.

a 360 degree view of product information
Circle no. 18
Circle no. 60
Project: Helensview Heights, Portland, Ore.
Size: 3.96 acres; 52 units (40 detached, 12 condos) from
925 to 1,600 square feet (detached only)
Price range: $186,000–$244,000
Certifications: LEED-ND; LEED-H Silver (anticipated)
Developer: HOST Development, Portland
Architect: Peck Smiley Ettlin, Portland
Builder: R&R Energy Resources, Portland
Consultants: Green Building Services, Portland
(LEED-ND AP); Earth Advantage (LEED-H AP); Brian
Clopton Excavating, Sherwood, Ore. (site development);
AKS Engineering & Forestry, Sherwood (civil engineer)

24 MAY | JUNE 2009

New Heights

elensview Heights is all about sustainabil- Throughout its 20-year history, HOST has
ity, but far more than just the stuff you can championed energy efficiency as a tenet of low-
feel, touch, or tack onto a house. Built on a income housing. “There’s a better chance that
4-acre infill site in a low-income section low-income owners will stay in their homes if it
of Portland, Ore., the 52-home enclave is designed doesn’t cost as much to operate,” says executive
to inspire and anchor an investment among its director John Miller, who leveraged a local utility’s
existing residents and business owners that will energy-saving program more than a decade ago to
transition the neighborhood into a vital—and thus help reduce operating costs for HOST’s homeowners.
sustainable—community. For Helensview Heights, the project team
The development meets the highest standards of followed the USGBC’s LEED for Homes rating
LEED-Neighborhood Design (achieving a Gold system thanks to grants from the Enterprise
rating in the pilot phase of the program), and the Community Foundation’s Green Communities
homes are expected to achieve Silver under LEED program and The Home Depot Foundation.
for Homes. But these designations are secondary A series of design charrettes paid for by the
attractions to the residents, who will enjoy lower Enterprise grant revealed how close HOST’s
monthly utility rates; reduced maintenance, repair, standard specs were to achieving LEED certifica-
and replacement costs; improved indoor air; and tion, and how a few tweaks—including the use of
probably higher resale value. Perhaps even more so heat recovery ventilators and heating fireplaces—
is the long-term value of building on a greyfield would further reduce monthly operating costs and
parcel within the city’s urban growth boundary to aid the company’s marketing effort. The grant also
create a perpetually owner-occupied housing option helped pay for a few of those upgrades, which the
to buyers otherwise priced out to the suburbs. project team has since integrated into the pro forma
That scenario, sans the LEED accolades, is to ensure the efficiencies continue through

nothing new for the locally culled project team build-out without adding costs.
headed by HOST Development. The Portland- The cost to add heat recovery ventilators, for
based not-for-profit entity counts (and keeps tabs instance, was tied up mostly in their installation; once
on) 375 affordable homes in the metro area, the builder found the ideal spot for the units and
leveraging low-interest financing and other funding streamlined the process, the premium went away.
from several sources to satisfy its mission. In fact, a coordinated effort among members of

MAY | JUNE 2009 25

Evermore low-VOC (38 g/l) interior and exterior latex paint from
Glidden has been reformulated for better scrubability, low odor,
and improved coverage and durability of even dramatic and dark
colors. The mildew-resistant exterior flat coatings are 100% acrylic
latex to protect against UV rays, color fading, and extreme
weather conditions. Interior semi-gloss also is formulated for
improved mildew resistance to reduce maintenance chores.
800.454.3336. Circle 322.

The builder utilizes natural gas fireplaces Prevail wood-look laminate flooring from
from Martin, a Custom Fireside brand, as Shaw features the VersaLock application
each home’s primary heating source. The system that requires no adhesives, thus
MAJOR APPLIANCES zero-clearance, 36-inch units are capable reducing indoor air pollutants; the product
Energy Star–qualified refrigerators, dishwashers, and laundry of heating up to 1,200 square feet, also is prefinished to eliminate off-gassing
equipment from Kenmore reduce energy and water use to keep burning at 24,000 BTUs and an 80% from stains and/or sealant coatings. The
monthly utility bills affordable. The top-mount, 18.2-cubic foot efficiency. The units feature glowing 8-inch-wide planks provide a warm, solid
refrigerator is EnergyGuide rated to cost just $41 per year to ceramic fiber logs and embers; optional flooring alternative at an affordable price,
operate, while the built-in, 24-inch dishwasher offers a precision, accessories include firebrick and a while its laminate construction and prefin-
five-level wash system and heated or no-heat drying cycles to 135-CFM blower. 916.331.2423. www. ished surface lessen maintenance. 800.441.
reduce resource use. 888.536.6673. Circle 323. Circle 324. 7429. Circle 325.

the design/build team prior to ground- that home prices trump anything else
breaking and during the build afforded among Helensview’s potential buyers,
cost efficiencies that enabled the project though they do (and would still, without
to remain within budget and its target the certificate) appreciate the longer-term
price point. “Everyone was looking at it, benefits of HOST’s efforts, specifically
asking what we could do to keep costs lower utility bills and healthier indoor air.
down,” says Brianna Conrow, construc- In fact, to maintain a price point that
tion project manager at HOST. would enable buyers within 70% to
She also credits the builder, Bill Lenz 100% of the area’s median family income
at R&R Energy Resources in Portland, to purchase homes in Helensview, per
for his use of in-house crews (instead of the developer’s mission, the project team
subcontractors), a long track record of diligently whittled down a wish list of
building high-performance housing, and green building options to settle on those
Carpeting from Mohawk employs the
the ability to negotiate volume discounts that benefited buyers and the commu-
company’s everSTRAND fiber, which uses with its suppliers. “He’s able to control nity the most, remained within budget,
recycled plastic (PET) bottles to completely costs and the schedule,” says Conrow, and, lastly, qualified under LEED for
offset virgin fiber resources with post- which effectively translates to maintain- Homes standards.
consumer waste material. The use of PET ing HOST’s affordability mission. The result are homes priced $186,000
resins delivers a superior grade of synthetic The Home Depot money, meanwhile, is to $244,000—25% to 42% less than
fiber for the carpet to provide inherent stain
underwriting the $1,500 cost to gain comparably sized detached units within
resistance and color clarity, the firm says,
while the cap and label of each bottle are
LEED certification once each home is the urban growth boundary. And these
recycled as reusable core material around completed. “Without that [grant], we’d are far from shacks; HOST’s commit-
which the carpet is wrapped. 800.266.4295. have to look at whether certification was ment to high-performance housing Circle 326. worth the cost,” says Miller, who admits ensures the homes are durable and will

26 MAY | JUNE 2009
HardiePlank fiber-cement lap siding from
James Hardie provides a low-mainte- John Miller
nance cladding while withstanding a rainy EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
climate. In addition to natural base HOST DEVELOPMENT
materials with low toxicity, a proprietary,
factory-applied sealer and primer A Portland native, John Miller has
enhance the siding’s performance witnessed the migration of the Rose City’s
qualities and provide a surface with workforce residents from the urban core
superior paint adhesion. 888.542.7343. to the suburbs and beyond, the flipside of Circle 327. a growth boundary established in the late
1970s to stem sprawl and encourage
high-density housing that instead resulted
in higher land costs and housing prices.
Ironically, his not-for-profit development
company, Home Ownership a Street at a
Time (HOST), is using the growth
boundary legislation to finance and build
housing that keeps low-income workers
close to their jobs while maintaining urban
vitality. “We work in neighborhoods that
are in transition,” he says, and under a
mission that encourages existing residents
to remain (and thrive) as homeowners
rather than be displaced by gentrification.
In addition to developing infill
WINDOWS HEAT RECOVERY VENTILATOR parcels near existing public transit,
Energy Star–qualified, Marquee-brand 800 Series vinyl high- The Constructo 1.5 HRV from Venmar building communities with interesting
performance windows from Philips Products anchor a thermally helps improve indoor air quality and streetscapes, and targeting existing
efficient and energy-saving envelope. Heat-fusion-welded frame reduce excess humidity by delivering a families, HOST is able to secure
and sash corners, interlocking meeting rails, ¾-inch insulating steady flow of fresh outdoor air into the low-interest, long-term financing from
glass, and narrow profiles combine to optimize daylight while home. The product line is certified by the community reinvestment tax credits.
reducing thermal transfer with a U-value of 0.32 and solar heat Home Ventilating Institute to achieve a He and his team also seek out in-kind
gain with an SHGC of 0.33. A strong and durable chambered heat recovery rate of up to 81%. The line and pro bono services and corporate
frame delivers a low-maintenance option while a continuous is designed specifically for midsize, foundation support to supplement loans;
pre-punched mounting fin ensures proper fastening and sealing affordable new homes, with a small though HOST avoids direct government
between the window and the wall. 574.296.0000. www.marquee housing and easy installation. 819.477. financing, it does help buyers navigate the Circle 328. 6226. Circle 329. public funding matrix for mortgage loans.
The result of HOST’s 20-year history
is a portfolio of nearly 400 homes
remain efficient, but providing eight neighborhood. Not much had to be purchased by folks with incomes as low
different floor plans, a thoughtful mix of done to achieve a LEED-ND rating for as 70% of the market’s median. “We’re
contemporary and more traditional the urban infill site, thanks to existing seen as a welcome addition to an active
housing to integrate with existing and nearby public transportation neighborhood’s existing revitalization
efforts,” says Miller. “We enjoy strong
buildings on different street frontages, options (which allowed the project team
support because of our mission.” —R.B.
and a high level of finishes inside and to eliminate garages in favor of street
out—including fiber-cement lap siding parking), schools, and other public
and solid-wood cabinet fronts—goes far services. Park space within the plat and
beyond the call of most affordable the high density and small footprints of
housing. The credit, says Conrow, goes to the housing also scored points.
the upfront and ongoing effort to “If you have the right location, which
value-engineer the project. we did, there’s not much effort to gain
It’s a comprehensive formula that has certification,” says Terry Miller, senior
enabled HOST to sell 13 of the first consultant for Green Building Resources
phase of 20 detached units at in Portland, which served as the
Helensview Heights since opening in LEED-AP for the neighborhood
early 2008 (and four within a six-week development effort. “We made no
span earlier this year) and, more significant changes to comply, and the
important, establish the foundation of a synergy with building to LEED for

sustainable, stable neighborhood. Homes standards also helped.”
While the homes (and specifically In addition to income thresholds,
their prices) account for the bulk of HOST targets families (particularly
that sales success, the stability of minority and single-parent households)
Helensview Heights also is rooted in its and works to convert renters within the

MAY | JUNE 2009 27

existing neighborhood into buyers so
that they aren’t victims of gentrification.
The developer also makes sure that its
homes are always owner-occupied, a
perpetual deed requirement that also
maintains stability and housing values.
It’s an effort that HOST homeowners
help watchdog and that the community
around Helensview embraced by
allowing the project to sail through the
approvals process.
“Our mission is based on the belief
that strong, healthy communities are
created and stabilized when homeown-
ers have a stake in their neighborhoods,” Cambridge 30 premium architectural The formaldehyde-free line of fiberglass
says Miller, quoting HOST gospel. “We shingles from IKO Industries contain at insulation from Johns Manville provides
look for opportunities in which the least 40% pre-consumer waste-rock thermal resistance to keep energy costs low
community is interested in improving recycled content, as independently verified while reducing the potential for indoor air
and sustaining itself.” by Scientific Certification Systems. The pollutants. The material also is SCS certified
heavyweight laminated shingles are for recycled content (25%) and provides

composed of a dimensionally stable acoustical performance to enhance indoor
Rich Binsacca is a freelance writer in
non-woven glass fiber mat impregnated comfort and value. The product line is
Boise, Idaho. with stabilized waterproofing bitumen to offered as faced and unfaced batts,
weather high winds, improve durability, blown-in loose-fill, poly-encapsulated, and

✳ For more case studies,
and reduce maintenance and repair.
800.433.2811. Circle 330.
rigid panels to suit any application.
800.654.3103. Circle 331.

Circle no. 34 Circle no. 50
Circle no. 31


f you’re confused about green building products and the
claims their manufacturers are making, you’re not
alone. I feel that way myself sometimes, and it’s my job
at the Green Building Alliance to navigate the complex
world of green product claims—and help others do the
While we still have a lot of work to do to establish reliable
standards for the multiple attributes that define green products,
the good news is that there are a lot of dedicated people working
on this problem, and there are a good number of resources
already available to help you find your own comfort level with
third-party verification of green claims. This article will guide you
through the complexities of green product selection, help you
understand how products are labeled and certified, and lead you to the
most useful navigational resources.
Ultimately, whether you’re getting product information from your local
supplier, direct from a manufacturer, from Web surfing, or via networking
with colleagues, the most critical thing is that you trust your source and
understand the criteria behind their recommendations.
It’s also important to note that green building is not just about following checklists
and picking products; at its heart, sustainable building is the integration of important
elements of design, site, energy, water, health, resource management, and other 31

Product Labels or Certifications
Referenced by NAHB and LEED
Right now third-party certifications are the most reliable way
to verify green claims when doing your product research. Here
are some of the most widely used labeling and certification
programs referenced by LEED and the NAHB Model Green Home
Building Guidelines.

Energy Star, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Besides being referenced for its environmental and human considerations.
certification of homes in general, both NAHB and LEED reference However, the time does come when you have to
Energy Star for a variety of other products, including appliances, select and specify materials, products, and
roofs, and equipment. components for a green home. At that point, your
Solar Rating and Certification Corp. focus is certainly on products—and whether they
WaterSense, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will truly contribute to the green performance goals for your project.

Recycled Content, Scientific Certification Systems When companies intentionally or unintentionally make false, misleading, or exaggerated claims
USDA Certified Biobased Product, U.S. Department of about the environmental benefits of their products,
Agriculture it’s called “greenwashing.”
At the most basic level, we all perpetuate
INDOOR AIR QUALITY greenwash if we try to lump all of a home’s
Greenguard, Greenguard Environmental Institute sustainable features together by calling it a “green home” without substantiating our claims through
Green Seal, Green Seal Organization some form of documentation and certification
such as through a national or local green building
Indoor Advantage Gold, Scientific Certification Systems
program. Product salespeople, distributors,
manufacturers, and marketers can fall into the
FloorScore, Scientific Certification Systems www.scscertified. same greenwashing trap if they exaggerate their
products' performance claims or don’t mention
environmental negatives that might diminish the
Consequently, there are a lot of individual
Cradle to Cradle (C2C), McDonough Braungart Design
Chemistry performance, material, or environmental benefit
claims made about building products that require
SMaRT Consensus Sustainable Product Standards, Institute for
scrutiny. The general rule about these seemingly
Market Transformation to Sustainability http://mts.sustainable simple descriptions is to be skeptical and curious
enough to look behind the claim for some form of
verification. Ask yourself the following:
California Gold, California Department of General Services ■ Is this claim obviously false? For example,
“This product is LEED and NAHB certified.”
Green Label or Green Label Plus, Carpet and Rug Institute
(Neither USGBC’s LEED program or the NAHB
and-the-environment/green-label-plus/index.cfm certifies products.)
■ Is the claim unrelated or irrelevant? For
example, “This product stands out from the
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Forest Stewardship Council competition.”
■ Is the claim too generic to make sense? For
Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), Sustainable Forestry
example, “This product uses the latest eco-friendly
Initiative (NAHB references FSC, SFI, and
three other specific wood certifications.) —A.S. technology.”
■ Does the claim only address one feature of the
product when there are other important ones that

32 MAY | JUNE 2009
In addition to labels and certifications,
here are a few third-party resources
that provide general guidelines for
green product selection.

BEES: A life cycle assessment–based
side-by-side product comparison
tool created by the National Institute
of Standards and Technology.

are ignored? For example, “This product is systems that only consider a single performance GREENSPEC DIRECTORY: An
maintenance free.” attribute as “labels,” while “certifications” assess independent media source that
■ Can I verify the claim online or with informa- multiple product attributes. For example, Energy thoroughly investigates product
tion on the product itself? Star, which is the oldest third-party label in the claims. (Subscription required for
Then start your research. If you can’t find the U.S., uses energy as the primary attribute for rating detailed information.) www.
appropriate information to satisfy your questions washing machines, but the label is not associated
in a quick Internet search or phone call, it might with water use reduction, which would contribute
GREEN2GREEN: Though still in the
be time to start seriously doubting the claims to it being a multiple-attribute rating. Sometimes information-gathering phase,
being made. looking at a single product attribute is helpful, but Green2Green’s goal is to provide
if you’re looking for a designation that assesses side-by-side comparisons of green
LABELS AND CERTIFICATIONS products more holistically, look for a certifica- building products based on basic
Greenwashed marketing claims have increased to tion—or multiple labels. characteristics, installation require-
the point where the Federal Trade Commission Depending on the product category, certifica- ments and experiences, environ-
mental attributes, and performance.
(FTC) is updating its published Guides for the Use tions vary widely in which performance criteria
of Environmental Marketing Claims that address they include. Some certifications focus very deeply
“environmental claims included in labeling, on chemical components or indoor air quality GREEN BUILDING ALLIANCE: An
advertising, promotional materials, and all other (e.g., Greenguard), while others include everything affiliate of the USGBC, GBA works
forms of marketing, whether asserted directly or by from raw material extraction to end-of-life issues directly with green building product
implication, through words, symbols, emblems, (e.g., Cradle to Cradle); a few even include manufacturers to help them
logos, depictions, [and] product brand names.” information about the corporate sustainability improve their understanding of the
green building marketplace. GBA’s
TheFTC Guides currently require “every express commitments of the product manufacturers
downloadable matrix compares
and material-implied claim that the general themselves (e.g., SMaRT). certifications in terms of cost to
assertion conveys to reasonable consumers about Given the many considerations certifications manufacturers; number of products
an objective quality, feature, or attribute of a include, you still need to ensure that a product will certified; first-, second-, and
product or service must be substantiated.” Here’s perform its most important function and meet the third-party designations; etc.
where labels and certifications come in. priorities you’ve set for your specific project and Version 2 will be out this summer.
In performing your extended research about application. Then, you can review the added benefits
certain products, you’ll find there are different of the other attributes to further inform your
RATE IT GREEN: Online community
types of information resources that can aid your decision-making process. You’ll find it’s much easier sharing information about green
search. Directories are plentiful; these “yellow to find multiple-attribute certifications for certain building products; includes a
pages” of existing green building products can types (e.g., carpet, floor coverings, cabinets, furni- directory of products and services,
serve as a starting point to figure out what your ture, and wood) than for others. Over time, more as well as a rating system driven by
options are in a certain product category. and more product categories will join this group. users. Its Green Building 101
If you want some form of substantiation of Resource Guide is an encyclopedia
of green building and green
product content or performance, then you’ll be LEVELS OF INDEPENDENCE
product resources. (Free to join.
looking for labels and certifications. Labels are simple In addition to considering what a label or certifica- Online Resource Guide access is
systems, often based on a single performance tion includes, you’ll also want to know who is $19.95.)
attribute like energy or recycled content, in which a backing up these green product claims. There are
blanket label is applied to all products. Certifications, three levels of independence when it comes to ECOHOME MAGAZINE: Print and
on the other hand, are complex assessments that rely evaluating labels and certifications. Web resource featuring a wide
on multiple, science-based criteria for determining “First-party” certifications are claims made by the range of green building product
categories and certified products
whether or not a product qualifies. designer, manufacturer, or other party directly
used in case study projects.
Though differentiating between labels and associated with the creation and sale of the product
certifications can be tricky, I generally classify in question. These are also called “self certifications.”

34 MAY | JUNE 2009
Circle no. 61
Future Resources
More product selection help is on
the way. Here’s what you can expect
in the near future.

DECLARATION: A popular method
of disclosing detailed environmen-
tal information about products in
Europe. The Green Standard has
created the first system for the
U.S., which it has dubbed the
“Gaia Product Profile.”
All green claims are made directly by the party who If you’re especially diligent about how and why
creates or sells the product. you specify green products, you know that LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT: LCA is
“Second-party” certifications are assertions or choosing a multiple-attribute third-party certifica- a holistic assessment of the
labels applied by an outside organization or tion is not enough, especially since they’re not all economic and environmental
impacts of a product or process
individual that has financial or other interests in the equal. So it is worth repeating that you need to
over its entire life cycle (raw-
manufacturer pursuing product certification, such trust the source of your information, which means materials extraction, transportation,
as trade associations, investors, or direct consultants. you need to trust the organization that awards the manufacturing, installation, use, and
“Third-party” certifications are the highest level product certification. end of life). LCA is more of a
of assurance for verifying independent product If you don’t understand what’s behind the category of information than an
claims; they are made by an independent, unbiased certification’s logo and everything a manufacturer exact resource. However, the NAHB
third party. Third parties have no connection to has to do to get it, how can you justify your product and Green Globes already
reference information obtained
manufacturers except the fee paid for the certifica- choices? I encourage you to take the time to go
through an LCA; LEED is adding
tion process. Green Seal and Greenguard, among beyond the certification, visit the certifying body’s this component this year. Look for
many others, fall into this category. Web site and download the relevant standard. more products to start referencing
Sometimes knowing where a product certifica- or providing LCAs to back up the
tion comes from and everything it considers is still FINAL ANSWER environmental information about
not enough to make a concrete decision. That’s So, which one’s the best? Unfortunately, there is no their products.
when you should take a look at its compliance with overarching answer to that question. Trying to LCA/begin.html.
other larger standard creation bodies like the select or specify a green product is the same as
PHAROS: The Pharos lens attempts
American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and selecting a non-green product. It’s just that in to translate complex product
the International Organization for Standardization addition to all the important criteria you are used information into a visual guide
(ISO)—two bodies that certify the certification to evaluating, now you have many environmental consumers can use to assess
organizations themselves. Certifications created and social considerations to include in your whether or not building products
according to ANSI or ISO standards must meet decision-making process. Luckily, you can use are truly sustainable, based on 16
high levels of quality, consistency, public comment multiple-attribute third-party labels and certifica- criteria.;
and review, and accessibility in both the creation tions to help you navigate the world of green
and maintenance of their certifications. building product claims. For product categories
If you’re looking for multiple-attribute third-party where no certification programs exist yet, you’ll
certifications, a good place to start if you’re trying to need to rely on your greenwash radar and filter out
figure out what product certifications are out there is unrealistic or improper claims.
the NAHB’s Model Green Home Building The green product market may not be as easy to
Guidelines (which served as the basis for the navigate as we’d like, but it’s a lot better than it used to
National Green Building Standard) and the be and getting better. The system of independently
USGBC’s LEED rating system. While neither of verified green product claims has not yet sorted itself
these green building rating systems certifies out, and it will take some time to mature. One thing
products, both reference a host of product labels and you can do now is to let manufacturers and suppliers
certifications (see sidebar, page 32). If you use, trust, that are making unfounded claims know that you
and/or are a big proponent of either (or both) won’t trust or accept them without independent
systems, it might be helpful to at least start exploring substantiation. Your reputation and theirs will depend
the certifications that these and other green building on making verifiable and realistic product claims.
rating systems reference, as they mostly point to
third-party labels or certifications that are trusted by Aurora Sharrard, Ph.D., LEED AP, is research
many green building industry stakeholders within manager for the nonprofit Green Building Alliance
the green building industry. (GBA) in Pittsburgh.

36 MAY | JUNE 2009
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Janet Allen

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717.399.1900 ext. 150 |

Media kits: Contact Janet Allen

MAY | JUNE 2009
Circle no. 16
product review | DECKING

ew Jersey deck builder Gustavio del la When selecting green deck Western cedar and redwood are homeowner
Cruz says his Millston Township favorites because of their rich color and natural
remodeling company is “in the direction materials, consider content, resistance to rot and insects. Decks made from
of being green,” but that it’s hard to nail down FSC- or SFI-certified wood are universally
which decking products are eco-friendly. “Every
resources, and life cycle. accepted as green because suppliers can prove
manufacturer says their product is green,” says through chain-of-custody that their wood comes
de la Cruz, who owns Barrett Contracting. And By Sharon O’Malley from sustainably managed forests.
he admits, “We’d like to use green practices on all Still, there’s plenty of redwood and cedar on
of our projects, but only 20% are.” hardwoods to all-virgin, recyclable PVC deck the market that comes from poorly managed
The reason: Few of his consumers ask for boards claim their products are as eco-friendly as forests whose owners indulge in unsustainable
eco-friendly decks—and those who do can’t plantation-grown, pressure-treated wood or harvesting. Plus, some builders say wood from
figure out if wood, wood-plastic composites, or recycled-content, hard-to-dispose-of composites. young redwood trees does not have the natural
all-plastic deck boards are greenest. With no Here is a review of the green claims and resistance of old growth. “There’s an illusion on
green standards in the deck-building industry, qualities of the most common decking materials. the part of the consumer that if they get a
many remodelers likely don’t know, either. redwood deck, it’s not going to rot,” notes David
Indeed, decking manufacturers themselves are SOLID WOOD Johnston, author of Green From the Ground Up
still figuring it out. Manufacturers of products The oldest and most popular decking material and president of What’s Working, a Boulder,
ranging from uncertified but chemical-free exotic is also the one that is renewable: wood. Colo., consulting firm. “That’s not true.”

ARCH TREATMENT TECHNOLOGIES. The company’s Wolmanized L3 outdoor wood preservative is nonmetallic and carbon-based. The biocides used in the
preservative are known to degrade in soil, so they do not accumulate, the manufacturer says. Applied to wood, the product resists termites and fungal decay,
and comes with a limited lifetime warranty. In addition, Wolmanized L3-treated wood retains its natural color with no green tint. And because the preservative
includes no copper, the wood is easier on saw blades, the company reports. A built-in water repellent helps the wood stay straighter longer than unprotected
wood, the manufacturer says. Wolmanized L3-treated wood is appropriate only for out-of-ground use. 678.627.2000. Circle 342.

38 MAY | JUNE 2009
Circle no. 52
product review | DECKING

80% recycled content, CorrectDeckCX is PVC-free
and made from 60% hardwood fiber and 40%
UV-stabilized polypropylene. The manufacturer
claims the deck boards are resistant to rotting, Likewise, he says, new cedar trees, while
staining, and fading, largely because of the recent less afflicted by fungus and insects than the
addition of a top layer of virgin polypropylene—
white sapwood of young redwoods, can be
about 1% of the board—to shield it from moisture
and protect it from weather and wear. The use of less stable and more apt to warp and twist
polypropylene instead of polyethylene makes the than older trees, so deck boards need
boards lighter than some competing products, the replacing more often.
manufacturer claims, so they can span longer A growing number of homeowners and
distances and withstand higher temperatures with pros have turned to exotic hardwoods,
less expansion and contraction. 877.332.5877. especially Brazilian-grown ipe. Among the Circle 343.
tallest in the Amazon region, these huge trees
can grow trunks measuring up to 6 feet in
BAY TREE TECHNOLOGIES. PureWood diameter. The consumer appeal of this

decking undergoes the Stellac Thermally unusually strong, dense wood and similar
Modified Wood process, which uses steam and exotic species is a stunning reddish-brown hue
heat to protect the wood while keeping its that weathers to a silvery patina, coupled with
integrity intact. The correct combination of a natural resistance to rot, decay, insects, mold,
temperature, time, and conditioning modifies the
and even fire without the use of chemicals.
wood to protect itself, according to the company.
Wood sugars change into a natural substance But for builders committed to using
that cannot be digested by insects or used as certified lumber, ipe and other South and
food by fungus or mold, the maker says, dramati- Central American hardwoods are hard to
cally increasing the wood’s resistance to rot and come by, and the price is often inflated by
decay. Chemical- and metal-free, the wood is demand and the high cost of earning
noncorrosive and nontoxic. It is available in certification in South America. The energy
traditional-style Sahara (shown) or Linea, a
VIANCE. Ecolife is a nonmetallic preservative expended in transport is another detractor.

Euro-style board with a different linear design
on each side. 888.575.4180. www.purewood
plus wood stabilizer system that offers long-term So the most commonly used—and Circle 344.
protection against decay and termites and least-expensive—wood deck boards are
provides weathering protection to reduce
made from fast-growing Southern pine,
cracking, warping, and splitting in above-ground
grown domestically on plantations where
applications. The manufacturer says Ecolife is no
more corrosive to fasteners and metal fittings than sustainability isn’t an issue.
untreated wood, so it can be used in direct contact What becomes an issue is its need for
with aluminum. The product can be used on a wide treatment with a preservative to ward off rot
range of treatable species, can be painted or and termites. Preservative manufacturers
stained, and comes with a lifetime limited warranty. voluntarily bumped chromated copper
800.421.8661. Circle 345.
arsenate (CCA) from use in the early 2000s;
since then, alternative treatments, like ACQ
❯ TREX. Trex decking is (alkaline copper quat), have become
made from about 50% commonplace. The replacements weren’t
recycled and reclaimed perfect, however, as early formulations of
plastic and 50% reclaimed ACQ leached more copper into the soil than
wood. The manufacturer CCA and corroded steel fasteners. Newer
claims the product will not
formulations, including micronized ACQ, are
rot or deteriorate because
of insects or harsh
said to be less likely to leach and corrode.
weather, and resists More recently, a number of manufacturers
damage from moisture have introduced non-metallic preservatives
and sunlight. The plastic for deck boards.
part of the product is Amid the growing number of new wood
polyethylene, recycled treatment products is heat-treated lumber,
from plastic bags. The
which forgoes chemical protection for a
product also includes
reclaimed wood from
heat-and-steam treatment that changes the
used pallets and sawdust. wood’s makeup so that it is no longer edible to
800.289.8739. www.trex. insects. The lingering question with these
com. Circle 346. relatively new materials is whether the energy

40 MAY | JUNE 2009
DECKING | product review
❯ A.E.R.T. MoistureShield composite decking is
made from 90% recycled materials, including
pre-consumer kiln-dried oak mill waste, waste
pallets, and construction debris. The plastics in the
required to super-heat the wood negates the product include low- and high-density polyethylene
environmental benefits of avoiding chemicals. from recycled milk jugs, grocery bags, detergent
bottles, pallet wrap, and food packaging waste.
Sixty percent of the materials that go into its deck
boards and deck tiles is post-consumer, which is
Most composite manufacturers fashion their about two and a half times the requirement for
deck boards from a combination of wood LEED for Homes, the manufacturer claims.
fiber and recycled plastic (including plastic MoistureShield composite decking comes with a
bags and milk jugs), although some rely on limited lifetime warranty against rot, decay, and
virgin polyethylene. Most companies termite damage. 866.729.2378.
warranty the long-lasting decks for 25 years. Circle 347.
Brands initially lured wood-weary
homeowners with a promise of maintenance- ❮ EAST TEAK FINE
free decks that won’t splinter and don’t need HARDWOODS. Shown here
painting. But the decks required more upkeep on a LEED-Platinum house in
than advertised, and problems with mold on Dallas, FSC 100% Pure Ipe
some brands led to class-action lawsuits decking is certified under FSC
chain of custody, guaranteeing
against several manufacturers.
that the timber is legally
In response, some, like A.E.R.T., have harvested from certified
added zinc borate—a mild fungicide and sources practicing responsible
flame retardant—to their boards. Others, forestry. Ipe is naturally durable
like Correct Building Products, introduced and rot and decay resistant.
recycled-content composite boards topped The air-dried, flat-sawn boards
with a skin of mold-resistant, virgin plastic are solid and unfinished and
feature eased edges. A range
that adds a scratch-resistant, colorfast seal
of lengths is available. 214.751.
and shields the organic part of the deck. 8988.
The added elements detract from the Circle 348.
decks’ green makeup, but Martin Grohman,
chairman and founder of Correct Building
Products, says they are necessary in today’s
marketplace. “People want this really MORE THAN MATERIALS
high-performance surface with no color
fade, antimicrobial performance, ease of
cleaning, and low upkeep,” he says. “To
S ome say no deck is green because it’s an optional luxury that unnecessarily consumes
resources. Others argue that decks save household energy because an outdoor room
needs no heating or cooling.
deliver that kind of performance, you give The greenest decks combine environmentally responsible materials like certified lumber
up something in terms of recycling.” or recycled materials with building practices that prevent the problems that can shorten
Some makers of composite decks claim their life.
their products are made from 90% or more Here is a checklist for deck builders who want to offer their clients the greenest in decking:
recycled materials. But the same plastic
■ Avoid old-growth wood and lumber from rainforests. Insist on a responsibly harvested
content that makes the boards durable and
product that is certified by organizations like the Forest Stewardship Council or the
resistant to decay renders them difficult to Sustainable Forestry Initiative.
dispose of because they’re slow to decom- ■ If you choose a low-maintenance composite decking product, buy one made from
pose in landfills. Plus, because the boards recycled wood and plastic rather than from virgin materials. Composite deck boards last
combine wood and plastic that cannot be longer than wood so they need replacing less often.
separated at the end of their life, there are ■ For cost-conscious homeowners, consider pressure-treated lumber preserved with a

few ways to reuse them except to recycle nonmetallic treatment.
■ Consider a brick or stone patio. Made from natural, low-maintenance materials, patios
them back into deck boards, although there
tend to outlast decks. And select permeable pavers to reduce runoff.
is a barely existent system for doing so. ■ Slope decks away from the house to direct water away from the building.
Grohman notes that the industry’s next step ■ Plant shade trees that will make the deck more comfortable in the summer but let light
is to strengthen the recycling process. into the house in the winter. For remodels, carefully remove existing plants during construc-
CorrectDeck, for example, stamps the tion and replant them afterward. —S.O’M.
underside of its products with the ingredients
so recycling-minded future homeowners can

MAY | JUNE 2009 41
product review | DECKING

❮ FIBERON. Sensibuilt cellular PVC
decking has a foamed PVC core with no
fiber fillers. The product includes 27%
pre-consumer recycled PVC from cutting
scraps from PVC window trim and fascia get it back to the company for reuse. And the
boards, and 8% reclaimed PVC, the North American Deck and Railing Association
manufacturer says. The surface of the is working on a standard that will help deck
deck board is coated with Lumenite, an
builders order more precise amounts of
infrared, heat-reflecting material that the
company says resists fading. The material so they have less waste to dispose of.
product comes with a 10-year warranty Like many products, composite’s green
against staining and fading plus a analysis is one of trade-offs: Not all of the
limited lifetime warranty on materials. materials are renewable or recyclable, but in
Sensibuilt decking never needs staining exchange is a long-lasting product that
or painting and resists termites and doesn’t need to be recoated with chemicals.
mold, splinters, and decay, the company
claims. 800.573.8841. www.fiberon Circle 349. ALL-PLASTIC
Another response to complaints about mold,
scratches, and color fading on composites is
❯ EARTHSOURCE. FSC-certified machiche tropical the growing number of all-plastic decks with
hardwood decking comes in 2-foot-by-2-foot solid limited lifetime warranties. Even Trex, the first
squares for installation on flat surfaces or in to market with composite decking, offers a
5/4-by-6-inch planks. The open-pored, dense cellular PVC deck board, Escapes.
hardwood comes in colors ranging from
Some plastic decking, like Fiberon’s
yellow/tan to medium brown reds and dark reds;
over time, lighter spots darken to a reddish brown Sensibuilt, a solid-core, cellular PVC
hue. The wood is sourced from Mexico, decking material, and Renew Plastics’ Evolve
Guatemala, and Belize. The material is resistant to Decking, a high-density polyethylene
decay-causing organisms and moderately resistant product, include recycled content. Some
to dry-wood termites, according to the company. others use all-virgin plastics.
800.675.7257. Either way, these all-plastic deck boards do
Circle 350.
not mix in wood fiber, so they resist mold.
And while some green builders would not call
plastic decking “green,” manufacturers tout
FOREST PRODUCTS. the fact that it can be recycled. “You could put
ProWood Micro wood [our] product in with your curbside [recy-
is treated with cling] pickup, and it would be picked up with
Osmose’s MicroPro, a milk jugs and water bottles. It would go to a
preservative that has recycling center,” says Terry Marquart,
earned Scientific
manufacturing manager for Renew Plastics.
Certification Systems’
Plus, because plastic decking doesn’t
Preferable Product decompose, its life span is indefinite, a
certification. MicroPro quality manufacturers say qualifies it as a
copper wood pre- green product. That same characteristic,
servative doesn’t environmentalists counter, causes a problem
need organic solvents when the material is dumped into landfills.
to dissolve its copper
“[Green] used to be defined as the
components, says the
maker, instead using a
amount of recycled content in your
product,” says Kristen Baer of Azek Deck.
CERTIFICATION POINTS micronizing technique
that grinds particles to “But now, people are looking at sustainabil-

L EED for Homes (MR2.2) offers half a point for wood decking that is
certified by the Forest Stewardship Council; that is salvaged; or that
contains recycled content. Add another half point if the material is
a size that lets them
penetrate the wood
ity, durability, long life cycle, and recyclabil-
ity. That’s hard to calculate.”
as a solid; wood
locally sourced. products treated with
The ANSI National Green Building Standard awards up to six points Sharon O’Malley is a freelance writer in
MicroPro release 90%
for insect-resistant decking materials (602.8); up to three points for to 99% less copper
College Park, Md.
recycled-content decking (604.1); and up to eight points for wood that into water or soil.

is certified from sustainably managed forests (606.1). 800.598.9663. www. For more green products, Circle 351. visit

42 MAY | JUNE 2009
Best Practice
Volume 1
Foundations, Framing,
Roofing, Exteriors

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Circle no. 54
new + notable
1 SRS ENERGY. Solé Power Tile is the
industry’s first building-integrated photo-
voltaic product designed specifically for
curved-roof systems, the company says. The
barrel-style tiles install alongside
US Tile’s traditional clay tiles, blending
seamlessly to allow for the collection of solar
energy without interfering with the roofline’s
aesthetics. The product provides 500 watts
per 100 square feet. The Power Tiles are
tested for durability, UV stability, color
fastness, wind resistance, and more.
267.515.5895. Circle 332.
has unveiled two new zero-VOC paints.
Enviro Coat 100% acrylic no-VOC interior
paint offers excellent hide, easy application,
and water cleanup, the maker says. Green
Coat waterborne no-VOC paint also cleans
up with water and provides a tough, durable
finish. In addition, 16 new colors are available
3 for the eCoat line of interior and exterior
paint, which is made with at least 50%
post-consumer waste paint. 888.677.2468. Circle 333.

3 ALSONS. Fluidics technology for the
657 water-saving showerhead controls water
shape and velocity to provide a full body
spray while using only 1.6 gpm. The
technology also delivers the water at a
higher velocity, creating a more invigorat-
ing experience and a uniform temperature.
800.421.0001. Circle 334.

4 VAST ENTERPRISES. Vast Permeable
Composite Pavers have an infiltration rate
of 400 inches per hour when installed with
an open-graded base, reducing stormwater
runoff. The composite pavers are made with
4 95% scrap car tires and plastic containers,
without sacrificing the strength, durability,
or appearance to replace segmental
5 concrete. The 3-inch-by-6-inch pavers,
which weigh one-third that of concrete
pavers, are suitable for driveways, parking
lots, sidewalks, and patios, including green
roof applications. 612.234.8958. www.vast Circle 335.

5 TOTO USA. The Eco Soirée high-
efficiency toilet offers the look of a
traditional two-piece product in a one-piece
design. The universal-height 1.28-gpf unit
is WaterSense certified and features a
Double Cyclone flushing system, contem-
porary styling, and a SanaGloss glaze to
repel waste and bacteria. 888.295.8134. Circle 336.

44 MAY | JUNE 2009
Develop greater brand awareness and showcase your
featured editorial from this industry respected publication.

✳ Tallahassee TND | Geothermal | Zero-VOC Paints | Dishwashers | Building Science: Indoor Air Quality


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The YGS Group is the authorized provider of
custom reprint products from ECOHOME magazine.

EcoHome_3.75x4.75.indd 1 5/16/08 11:09:19 AM

Circle no. 57 Circle no. 63
1 MOEN. Immersion self-pressurizing
technology increases the force and flow of
water from the Envi Eco-Performance
rainshower-style showerhead, using
2.0 gpm without sacrificing user experi-
ence. The showerhead is adjustable for a
revitalizing spray or a softer, rain-drench-
ing flow. A spiral-shaped nozzle pattern
contributes to full-body coverage.
800.289.6636. Circle 337.

2 W.R. MEADOWS. Made with 100%
recycled synthetic rubber, Eco-Joint
expansion joint filler is flexible, lightweight,
UV stable, and chemical resistant, says the
maker. The product can be used as an
expansion or control joint on roads,
sidewalks, driveways, flooring, patios, and
1 2 more. It is non-extruding and is compatible
with hot and cold joint sealants. 847.214.2100. Circle 338.

3 COSENTINO. Eco countertops are made
with 75% post-industrial and post-consumer
recycled content, including salvaged mirrors;
window and bottle glass; salvaged porcelain;
and industrial furnace residuals. The
remainder is stone scrap bonded with 22%
corn oil resin. The material is non-porous;
requires no sealers; and has high stain,
scratch, and scorch performance, the firm
says. Ten colors are available. 800.291.1311. Circle 339.
4 RHEEM. Designed to simplify installa-
tion, the SolPak all-inclusive active solar
domestic water heating system comes with a
heat exchanger tank, solar collector panels, a
controller, multi-speed pump, thermal
expansion tank, and other items. Collector
panels are certified by the Solar Rating &
Certification Committee. The maker says a
SolPak system can reduce the water heating
portion of energy bills by as much as 80%.
800.621.5622. Circle 340.

company’s bricks, pavers, and cobblestones
originated on historical buildings and roads.
The 150-plus-year-old European-blend
cobblestones shown here, reclaimed from U.S.
streets, offer a smooth surface look from
decades of wear. Other products include Old
Chicago–style bricks, Antique Indiana Hard
Reds, clinker bricks, and cobblestones
reclaimed from Philadelphia streets. 319.354.
5251. Circle 341.

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46 MAY | JUNE 2009
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Circle no. 17

1. Productive family
garden, animal habitat,
and water-conserving
native polyculture
2. Building systems 5
anticipate new technolo-
gies, disassemble for
manufacturer upgrades.
3. Carbon nanotubes form
strong, resource-efficient, 9 10
lightweight structures and
provide maximum design

4. Naturally ventilated
indoor spaces provide a 4 7
connection to the
outdoors, daylight, and

5. Integrated photovoltaic 6
and solar-thermal systems
transform the home into a
net-energy exporter. 8

6. Heat pumps heat, cool,
and provide hot water.
7. Car batteries store
solar energy, export to the
electrical grid.

8. The house captures
rain and condensation to
supplement water needs.
House Like a Tree

9. Phase-change
“intelligent cladding” hen the Wall Street McDonough’s hallmark Cradle to Cradle inspira-
insulates, allows daylight Journal challenged tion and influential philosophy.
and views. William McDonough + The design emphasizes a natural and positive
Partners to create a integration with its habitat, a strong connection
10. High-performance
coatings on surfaces
conceptual design for between its occupants and the natural world, and a
create energy, insulate, a sustainable home of positive impact on energy, water, and its carbon
and reduce maintenance. the future, the designers found their inspiration footprint.

in nature. And while the designers have included smart
11. Cementitious According to McDonough’s program description, grid–connected renewables and ground-source heat
materials absorb carbon the team wanted to develop a home that would “use pumps in their plan, some of the most intriguing
dioxide as they cure.
sunlight to generate energy, clean water, sequester features include lightweight carbon nanotubes for
carbon, provide natural habitat, and produce … the structure, an insulative “intelligent cladding
oxygen and food.” In other words, their mission was system” made from phase-changing materials that
to create a house that functions like a tree. enhances views and daylighting, modular systems
“As with a tree, the house accrues positive that can be disassembled and returned to manufac-
environmental benefits over time,” the program turers for technological updates, and cementitious
statement continues, and at the end of its useful life materials that absorb carbon dioxide as they cure.
its materials disassemble and return to nurture Visions like these—even in concept—should
industry or the biosphere—a precept of inspire us all. —Rick Schwolsky

48 MAY | JUNE 2009
Circle no. 3
Circle no. 39