Eco-Friendly Products from Greenbuild Expo 2008

  • Fiberglass insulation from recycled glass by Owens Corning.
  • Mailers to dispose of CFLs and batteries by Waste Management.
  • Decorative mosaic tiles made from coconut husks from Kirei.
  • Natural clay wall plaster by American Clay.
  • Solar hot water heaters for your home from Velux.
  • Photovoltaic panels for producing electricity by Kyocera.
  • LED light fixtures from Eclipse Lighting.
  • Lighting control systems from Verve.
  • AuraLast treated wood by JELD-WEN Windows & Doors.
  • Rainwater harvesting systems from Bushman.
  • Water saving faucets, showerheads, and toilets by Kohler.

Read episode article to find out more.

Danny Lipford: This week, Today’s Homeowner is on the road in Boston to check out everything that’s new and green at the Greenbuild Expo. There’s plenty to see here so don’t go anywhere.

Outside the Greenbuild show, here in Boston, the weather is chilly, but inside things are really heating up as crowds of people pack in to see what’s new and what’s green. At all the trade shows we go to, we always find some great brand new innovative products, but especially here at the Greenbuild Expo.

Allen Lyle: But it’s not just the new products we’re finding, we’re seeing a lot of older products that are made greener.

Danny Lipford: Hey, this is a good example. We’re all familiar with the pink insulation. It’s already green, because it helps make your home a lot more energy efficient. But now, Owens Corning has refined their manufacturing process, so that it now includes a least 40% recycled material.

Allen Lyle: And that material is glass, that means Owens Corning is one of the largest users of recycled glass in the world.

Danny Lipford: And because they’re using more recycled materials, they’re actually saving 13% of the energy needed to produce the installation.

Allen Lyle: That means not only is the project green, so is the company.

Danny Lipford: Hey, we got a lot to show you right now.

Green building is a rapidly growing market, so it’s no surprise that shows like this are growing, too. The attendance is up 25% from last year with people here from all 50 U.S. states and more than 80 countries around the world. In spite of a sluggish economy, the number of exhibitors is also up by almost 70%.

This emerging market includes a diverse group of companies with some innovative products and ideas. Which means there are a lot more options than ever for homeowners.

Allen Lyle: One of your green buzzwords is sustainability. It’s used to describe quite often materials and there are plenty of those to choose from. But I wanted to show you something that we actually looked at last year here at Kirei. It’s a sorghum product, really cool looking. But we’ve got more, even this year. I want you to meet John Stein. Hey, John where are you? There you are.

John Stein: How you doing, good to see you.

Allen Lyle: You’ve got something new this year, show it to me. What is it?

John Stein: Yes we do, this year we have introduced coconut tiles, so coconuts harvested for milk and meat around the world; what’s left over is tons and tons of coconut shells which usually just sit in piles and piles, which rot. We’ve taken those shells, we cut them into small pieces and make mosaic tiles out of them, bringing new jobs to areas that can use them. And, taking trash and making it into treasure.

Allen Lyle: That’s great. You’ve got artwork, you’ve got cabinetry work.

John Stein: Yes, used for cabinet inserts.

Allen Lyle: Wow! But I’ve heard a rumor about you John. That you are into an organized unit of some sort? The green Mafia? What is this John?

John Stein: It’s a party, a happy hour group with a green building problem. It’s basically a group of friends that have developed, being at shows like this, being in a green building business. We all found we had similar problems, similar issues that we’re all facing. We kind of use each other to vent back and forth, maybe after the show over cold beverage. And suddenly we said, how about we band together, work on these things together?

One of the things we do, is we partner with Eco-Clad, it’s another product that’s also very green. And what we found is if we combine forces, we can save quite a bit of money on booths, have a more fun booth, with fun design elements, instead of just Kirei all the time. Maybe somebody comes in to talk about Eco-Clad, they end up leaving with Kirei information and vice versa.

And it’s not only us and Eco-Clad, it’s Eco-Timber, Ice Stone, Vetrazzo, and lots of other companies with very similar backgrounds. Young companies that have just gotten into the business. We all share the same problems and successes of growing businesses. Also, what we found is the building business is a big industry.

We’re a small fish in the green building world, which is just growing, just reaching the mainstream. And what we find is if we band together, we make a bigger voice. And we can compete against some of the larger voices in the industry. And hopefully carve out our niche together and have some fun doing it.

Danny Lipford: John’s company certainly has found a way to put to use materials that could’ve easily ended up in the landfill. Now, speaking of landfill, now here’s a company, Waste Management, that has been able to really help solve a lot of disposal problems over the years, and they’re right on the verge of solving yet another problem.

You know the thing that’s happened over the last few years, so many people are using compact fluorescent lamps or CFL’s. They have certainly been proven to save a lot of energy and they last a long, long time. But once they finally burn out, disposing of them properly has been a problem, because they contain a small amount of mercury. But, Waste Management has developed a system that is going to make this a lot easier.

Basically it’s a box that you buy and in the box which can be positioned right on the shelf next to your CFL’s is a little foil liner. Once the CFL do finally to burn out, all you do open it up, drop this in, once it’s filled up, you seal up the box, put it in the mailbox, and postage is pre-paid right back to Waste Management to make sure this ends up where it should.

They’ve also done the same thing for household batteries. So, this is just a great solution to a problem that’s really gotten bigger and bigger over the last few years. Hey speaking of solutions, let’s check in with Joe and see what he has up his sleeve for this week’s Simple Solution.

Joe Truini: Removing rust typically requires a lot of hand sanding and scraping. Or you have to buy a chemical rust remover, which are not only expensive but pretty toxic. Here’s a better solution. It’s a homemade rust remover using plain old molasses. That’s right, believe it or not molasses.

What you want to do is start with a container, and you add nine parts water to one part molasses. In this case it’s about a half of this small paper cup. That’s about it right there. It doesn’t have to be exact but about nine to one. So we’re going to dump that in there, put in the molasses, mix it up a just a little bit, and then you want to put in your rusty piece of hardware or tool. In this case, a really rusty spade bit.

Now, the reason this works is based on a chemical reaction called the Chelation process, which is where the molasses attacks the iron oxide in the rust and holds it in suspension. In this case, this is mostly surface rust, so we’ll leave it in there for maybe two or three days, take it out and lightly scrape it, or brush it off with a wire brush.

For more heavily corroded items, you might need to leave it in there for two weeks or so. Now, you’ll find this to be a really effective rust remover, although it is slow as molasses.
Danny Lipford: This week we’re at the Greenbuild Expo here in Boston. And we’ve been to this show before, and boy it has grown so much. Just an indicator of how much interest there is out there for green building products and other ways to make your home green.

Now, this is a booth we’ve been to before, it’s from a company called American Clay. And it seems like every time we drop by the owner of the company, Croft, is always getting his hands dirty. How’s it going Croft?

Croft: It’s going great, Danny.

Danny Lipford: Tell us a little bit more about American Clay. You guys have been around a little while.

Croft: We have, we’ve been open since 2002. And we’ve been manufacturing interior clay plaster for interior wall surfaces. We offer three different finishes for people so that you can get a variety of looks for your house. And the beautiful thing is its natural, contains no harmful chemicals, and adds to the health of the environment.

Danny Lipford: Well I tell you, you guys must be doing very well, over this last year I’ve seen you on showcase homes all over the country, magazine articles, really proud for you in everything. But tell me about this energy savings thing that you found out about.

Croft: Well, it’s really great, because I was skeptical at first. We had people coming back to us and saying, you know I’ve seen a drop in my energy bills since I put the clay on the walls. That can’t be the case, but what we’ve done is we’ve started an energy program where, we’ve built some units.

We’re doing comparisons between traditional materials and with our material in it. And we’re really going to quantify exactly what people could expect when they use their clay in their houses.

Danny Lipford: Boy, that’s perfect then, save a little money and nice and green approach to it and everything. Hey, it looks pretty easy, let me give that a try.

Croft: No problem. We’ll work on his technique.

Danny Lipford: While I work on that, Allen is meeting up with Sara Gutterman, from Greenbuild magazine, to get her take on the show.

Allen Lyle: Okay Sara, normally by now I have found my favorite product. No matter what it is I have found it. I’m having a hard time this time. You haven’t found one, have you?

Sara Gutterman: I have found one, actually. I have indeed, yes. My favorite product here at the show right now is this solar hot water heating system by Velux. It’s not a new product per se, they’ve had it in Europe for many, many years. But they are rolling it out right now in the U.S., so it’s new to our national market.

There are a couple of reasons why I like solar hot water heating systems in general. One is it accesses free energy which, who doesn’t like that?

Secondly, the systems are equally as applicable for residential or commercial projects or new homes or buildings or retrofits.

And a third, I think solar heating systems are a very good and relatively low-cost way to make a big impact in terms of energy use, and also just the general environmental footprint of a project.

Allen Lyle: And you’ve got to admit it looks really good up there.

Sara Gutterman: It looks good, and this system by Velux uses the same roof space as a regular skylight. So, you don’t run into the same kinds of homeowner association push back as you would of with some of the other PV systems.

Allen Lyle: I still can’t believe you already found a favorite.

Sara Gutterman: Well, you know I’ve known about this product for a while. And I’ve watched as Velux has rolled it out into the marketplace and I’m real happy about it.

Allen Lyle: Alright, well one more task for you then. Help me find a favorite.

Danny Lipford: While that search continues, I’m checking out some of the other solar options at the show. This new system from Kyocera, called MyGen, is designed to make photovoltaic solar power a more accessible option for homeowners. They have simplified the process by packaging all of the necessary components in a pre-engineered kit, which is available in five different sizes.

To make the most of that juice, these LED lights from Eclipse offer an 80-90% savings on power consumption. And controlling that light is even easier and greener thanks to this wireless lighting control system from Verve. The switches even generate their own power to relay commands.

By now, you may be a little overwhelmed with all of the green products and ideas we’ve shared with you. But there’s a number of websites that we found here at the Greenbuild show that will help you with extra information.

Here is one of them, it’s called And, basically, it is an online community where you can find out about hundreds of different companies that specialize in green products and they also have books and other information that can help you make the right green decision.

Another great website that we found is All kinds of ideas for products you can use to build green, why to build green, how to build green, details, drawings, plans, it’s a great resource.

Hey, now it’s time for our Best New Product of the week.

Jodi Marks: You probably already know that you can lower your energy bills and still be comfortable with proper insulation, but I bet you didn’t know that the Sunday paper can also help you to do this. This is GreenFiber cellulose insulation, and it’s made from 85% recycled materials, including your old newspaper. And it takes 10% less energy to make.

It can be used in attics, floors and walls and is blown in, or damp sprayed into a space to completely seal any cavities. Now that’s a lot of Sunday papers. The natural fibers are specially treated for flame resistance, and no toxic air emissions are released during the manufacturing process.

One other benefits of GreenFiber is that it works great as a sound barrier. It really is pretty easy to spray into place. But I admit it is a little messy, so I highly recommend wearing a dust mask and a pair of goggles.

But for about 10 bucks a block, it is a durable, safe, and cost effective way to insulate and reduce damage to our environment.

Danny Lipford: Boy, we’re finding some great things here at the Greenbuild Expo in Boston. One important element of successful green building is using sustainable materials. Materials that will last a long, long time.

Here’s a good example, JELD-WEN Windows and Doors has developed a wood called AuraLast that will last 20 years, guaranteed, against rot or termites. That’s a great way to create a product that won’t end up in the landfill very soon. And because of this type of effort and their public awareness campaign, JELD-WEN has won the President’s Award on the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

Here’s another good example here. Now, this is made from western juniper. And originally, and for years and years, Juniper has been a very invasive type of material that they’ve even burned our in the fields or used as fence post. I think this looks a heck of a lot better than a fence post.

While Allen was hiking the floor, he came across a group of Connecticut middle school students giving a presentation. The kids had used Autodesk software to design a very impressive school project. So the company brought them to Boston to demonstrate what’s possible in green design when you really think outside the box.

Allen Lyle: I want you to meet some new friends of mine, and they are going to test me on this, can I just do the four stooges or something like that? No, this is Emily, Hallie, Ally and Alex. They were part of a student design competition for the school of the future. Let’s listen to what they did.

Allyson McCurthy: This contest is supposed to make kids more interested in the future and the schools and design processes, and the green technology mostly.

Hallie Hallman: We got a lot of the ideas from the Internet and from resources like green resources. It was just us brainstorming ideas and thinking of what we could do.

Emily Powers: It was pretty much our presentation that we had to present in front of lots of different companies and the essay we had to write a certain amount of words and then they’d read it so they’d have kind of an outline of what you did.

Allyson McCurthy: I was in charge of building the model. I took what Halley did, and put it onto basically a board and I made it 3D.

Alex Kashtan: I also designed something called the Hydro Gutter and it’s an alternative energy gutter system, which can be applied to our school to use electricity less often.

Allen Lyle: Alex’s gutter mounted water wheel isn’t in mass production yet. But I am finding some very interesting water wise products at the show, like a gridded rooftop planter system that eliminates much of the water runoff from flat roofs.

But, if it has to run off, you can catch it and use it with this residential rainwater harvesting system, from Bushman. Or for the more conventional applications there are a huge variety of water stingy fixtures that can easily become a part of any home.

Now we’ve already seen a lot here today. And of course, one of the reasons I come to these shows is to see all the new stuff. But something that’s really not all that new, something you’ve heard both Danny and me talk to you about are low-flow toilets. I will tell you this, we talk and talk about this all we want. But you know the old saying, actions speak louder than words.

Here in the Kohler booth, we’ve got a great demonstration. I want to show you this, because this is very important. If your home was built let’s say before 1994, you’ve probably got one of these old monsters in it. This is a 3½ gallon toilet right here. Beautiful color.

Don’t you remember this color? I think I had appliances this color at one point. Watch this though, right down here I’m going to flush this one, 3½ gallons coming out. The big misconception, when it came to low-flow toilets, that’s not an easy word to say, is that they were not that effective.

This is the Cimarron model and I have to tell you this, I have this one, this very model in my home. It is just as effective. This is a 1.28 gallon model. Look at the difference there. You can compare them right there. This is how much water you could save. You’re talking about up to 20,000 gallons of water every year, just by making a switch.

Now, that alone may not be that impressive. I think it is, but check this out. Up to 100 million of these models, the 3½-gallon are still in use today. Multiply that by that 22,000 gallons that would save a lot of water. I love this show, it’s all about thinking green. Speaking of, here’s Danny with today’s Thinking Green.

Danny Lipford: Keeping the air clean is one of the many goals of environmentalists. Now, you may not be able to do much to affect the air outside. But you can make a big difference in the air quality inside your home by getting rid of as many chemical cleaners as possible. Here are a couple of truly green ways to keep your home spic and span, save a little money and keep the air clean.

Vinegar is one of the most natural all purpose cleaners you can use. Fill a clean spray bottle with a solution of one part vinegar and one part water, and you’ve got a cleaner that will also disinfect and deodorize most areas of your home. Another idea is to use lemon juice. It easily dissolves soap scum and water deposits.

And you can mix it with a little baking soda to make a cleaning paste. You can also cut a lemon in half, sprinkle a little baking soda on it, and then use it as a scrub brush. After a couple days of walking around the Greenbuild Expo, I think it’s safe to say that this building, green building thing is really not a trend at all.

Allen Lyle: Oh, no. Think about it, trends and fads are here today and gone tomorrow. I don’t think that’s the case here.

Danny Lipford: And a good thing, most of the people that are attending the show are builders, remodelers, designers, architects. So, next time you’re playing a renovation, or building a new home, you’ll have some professionals that are knowledgeable in green building to choose from.

Allen Lyle: Now what’s encouraging to Danny and me is that so many homeowners today are not only asking for green, but they’re insisting on it.

Danny Lipford: And I hope you enjoyed seeing a little glimpse of what’s taking place in the world of green building. And of course we have a lot more information on our website at From Allen and I, we’ll see you soon.

Next week, we’re building an addition that is long overdo.


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