Live from GreenBuild – Day 3 with Chris
Chris Phillips, Greening Homes’ President, is attending this year’s GreenBuild conference, in Philadelphia. This is the third of his daily blogs from the event.
More of the same today: walking the Expo and attending education sessions. Tonight is the keynote speech at Temple University, by Hillary Clinton, followed by a concert by most favourite band of all time: Bon Jovi. Although I don’t expect this to be a late night, I’ll try to post this early to keep the evening open…
Quote of the Day
“America sides with vinyl.”
The marketing slogan for the Vinyl Siding Institute at GreenBuild.
Most of today’s seminars are this afternoon and happening hopefully after I post today’s blog. This morning’s seminars included information about a new computer programme that calculates combined LCA and LCC assessments and another conversation about the partial withdrawal of funding and support for LEED projects by the American government. Apparently product manufacturer coalitions have formed as a reaction to LEED’s new push on product LCA data, putting pressure on the U.S. government to not adopt LEED as the sole certification standard in its federal building projects. Scheduled this afternoon is a lengthy seminar on reclaimed building materials, followed by the keynote address and celebration at Temple University.
Neat new products and services of note
GREEN INSULATION GROUP. Based out of Boston, but also shipping from Buffalo into Toronto, this company sells reclaimed rigid insulation from deconstructed buildings at a fraction of the cost of a new rigid insulation.
NATUREHEMP, out of Rimouski, Quebec. This 3-year old company is launching its CCMC-approved hemp-based batt insulation here at GreenBuild and are seeking distributors in Ontario. Their batt product is made of 88% hemp fibre (an agricultural waste product) and 12% polyester fibre, with no additional additives. The batts offer R3.5/inch and come in both 3.5 inch ($1.85/sqft retail) and 5.5 inch ($2.25/sqft retail) thicknesses, approximately twice the cost of typical fibreglass batts. This could be an interesting eco-batt product to introduce to some of our projects.
The general theme of moving back to more natural products continues this year at GreenBuild. A company called Tradical is selling pre-packaged bags of HEMCRETE: basically separate measured bags of chopped hemp fibre (which we’ve always purchased from a local farmer) and a pre-mixed lime/gypsum binder to form a kind of insulation mix that is tamped down between stud spaces. You can see pics of their booth below. These guys were superstars when I came to their booth…completely swarmed.
Another company says that they can produce SIPS and exterior panels out of 100% natural expanded cork, which they call THERMACORK. The cork insulation panels, to be installed ship-lapped and do not require additional finishing, sell for about $6/sqft at 50mm of thickness.
I spoke with the rep at Bonded Logic this afternoon. Bonded Logic is the manufacturer of Ultra Touch recycled denim batt insulation. We love the product for its excellent sound dampening qualities around the bathrooms we build, but the product isn’t rated for thermal use in Canada. I was interested in the company’s position on the hold up for certification as thermal insulation back home. I have to say – there was a real dearth of excitement on this front. The product is manufactured in Arizona, and the rep complained that the logistics of bringing the insulation up to Canada are immense. The rep at GreenBuild blamed a lack of leadership from the Canadian distributor to ensure the product met our regulations. I didn’t leave the conversation with any confidence that this company expects to expand their presence in the North any time soon.
My conversation at the earthy-coloured booth of the Vinyl Siding Institute was interesting this morning. I spoke with Matthew Dobson, Director, Code and Regulatory. Clad in green, he looked a bit like a park ranger…if park rangers wore green. Most people assume that PVC is a product of the petrochemical industry. It’s not, as Matthew was very clear to point out. Vinyl starts with salt, of which we have an abundance (the booth, I should note, had a few dozen salt shakers on the table – key to the message). This salt is subjected to gases and – voila – you have polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The issue, of course, are the carcinogenic dioxins that are produced in this process (dioxins being unsafe in any amount). The vinyl siding industry is touting life cycle assessments that suggest that vinyl siding performs better environmentally than almost every other siding material, save for cedar. Hmmm. I inquired about vinyl’s long term persistence in our environment and its toxicity when burned. The response was that “vinyl is very durable” and that it doesn’t degrade so readily in UV radiation any more, due to a new “capstock” technology. It can, apparently, be ground down and recycled back into new vinyl by certain manufacturers when provided with large amounts of product but, when pressed, Matthew agreed that there was an “infrastructure issue” that made this difficult to do and that old vinyl can’t be used to create new vinyl with the long-lasting “capstock” process anyway. Also, Matthew told me that he was unaware of burning landfill waste as an issue of note. Anyway, here’s a photo of the booth:
Here and there
I was thrilled to find out that Molly Malloy, Connor Malloy’s (our Operations Manager) mum, has a family restaurant business here in Philly at the Reading Terminal Market. The restaurant specialises in local beers and food, so I supported Connor’s mum by having lunch here today: artisanal grilled cheese with pepper fennel on a brioche with a side salad of grilled beets, greens, walnuts and feta.
It was less busy at the market today and I was able to take a pic of my favourite Cajun stall here at the market. Here you go: