Archive for December, 2009

Building Products Top 100 Part 1: 100-76 By Victoria Markovitz and Jenna Lee Source: BUILDING PRODUCTS Magazine Publication date: 2009-05-08 The need for product innovation doesn’t stop in a down economy, and last year building product manufacturers continued to serve customers with plenty of new, valuable introductions for the home and the jobsite. And if Building Products’ annual Top 100 list is any indication, contractors looking to differentiate and innovate welcomed that information. The Top 100 represents those products readers of Building Products and its sister publications Builder, Custom Home, and Remodeling requested more information about by mailing to us the reader service cards found in each issue. As in year’s past, you won’t find run-of-the-mill commodities here: The Top 100 spans a range of categories, but most are less familiar, new, or trendy. Not surprisingly, green products and technologies–including photovoltaics and solar water heating, tankless water heaters, and energy-efficient lighting–dominate this year’s list as pros aim to keep up with the burgeoning sustainable-building movement. Beyond green, the Top 100 contains many unique gems, such as an inventive sliding door hardware option, a hole-enlarger tool, a water carbonator, and an eye-catching waterfall system. Whether you caught them the first go-around or are viewing them for the first time, this year’s top picks could hold the solutions you and your customers have been looking for. Stay with us over the next two weeks as we count down to number one.

87: Tiger Mountain Innovations

Tiger Mountain InnovationsTiger Mountain Innovations

Rustic-looking Squak Mountain Stone slabs are made of recycled paper, cement, fly ash, and recycled glass. They come in five colors, and each piece is unique, the maker says. The product is 11/2 inches thick. 425-486-3417. www.squakmountainstone.com.

To view the entire TOP 100 – click link below



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Case Study: Record-Breaking LEED Home in Eugene, Ore.

Efficient home demonstrates the aesthetic possibilities and energy savings of ultra-green homes.

Small Wonder

With a compact footprint, efficient envelope, and smart product decisions, The Sage soared past LEED-Platinum.

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The modern kitchen features Pioneer Millworks reclaimed flooring, Energy Star-rated refrigerator and dishwasher from KitchenAid, locally sourced wood cabinets, and Squak Mountain recycled-content countertops. Clerestory windows flood the open room with natural light.

When Bill Randall and Arbor South Architecture set out to design their first LEED-certified project, they didn’t just limp in—they broke records. The Sage, a 1,447-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath home in Eugene, Ore., earned 110 LEED points, enough to qualify for Platinum status and earn the distinction of the highest-scoring LEED home west of the Rockies.

The house, completed last month and featured on the Eugene Home Builders Tour, is an educational tool for designer and consumer alike. For Arbor South, The Sage and its LEED certification process was an experience-building opportunity for a firm looking to redirect its design mission toward smaller, more efficient homes. With a modern aesthetic uncompromised by an extensive list of green features, the home also serves as an eye-opener for local buyers unaware that sustainable living and pleasing design go hand in hand.

“It’s designed and built in a way that shows how you can be off the charts in terms of efficiency, but still be aesthetically pleasing,” says Randall, AIA, LEED-AP. “It’s very aesthetically pleasing and very livable.”

Like most ultra-green homes, The Sage starts with a tight envelope, featuring double 2×4 stud walls, separate plates to eliminate thermal bridging, Demilec Agribalance spray-foam insulation for R-32 in the walls and R-45 in the vaulted ceilings, and tight sealing. As a result, the house is 12 times tighter than Energy Star requirements.

A heat recovery ventilator is included to ensure fresh-air exchange inside the tight house. A solar hot water system and 2.1-kW solar electric provide 40% to 50% of the home’s energy needs.

Design and product choices contributing to energy savings include south-facing windows with overhangs and a light shelf of clerestories; the Weather Vane vinyl windows carry a U-value of 0.27. The KitchenAid dishwasher, refrigerator, and washing machine are Energy Star-labeled, and the bathrooms include low-flow faucets from Danze and Kohler dual-flush toilets.

Sustainable and local materials were used throughout, including reclaimed wood flooring from Pioneer Millworks, Sustainable Flooring cork in the bathrooms (including Showercork, made from discs of wine corks, in the master), and recycled-content Squak Mountain Stone kitchen countertops and PaperStone bath countertops. Accent siding on the exterior was crafted with remilled redwood benches that were reclaimed from a local outdoor ampitheater.

Drought-tolerant plants were selected, and a rainchain drains into a 1,000-gallon cistern to be used for watering plants and for the landscape pond in the yard.

With less than 1,500 square feet, The Sage’s size is a departure from Arbor South’s more recent designs. At one time, the firm had been part of a pilot program for a local efficient building program, Super Good Sense Oregon, but gradually drifted with the market toward larger projects. With The Sage, “We felt a desire to get back to our roots and really get back to smaller, sustainable housing,” Randall explains. 

The home’s price tag of $459,000 is about $100,000 to $180,000 more than typical homes of that size in the area (though a hefty cost for the premium infill location contributed), but Randall says the goal was to educate on all the available possibilities. “We wanted to do a demonstration house to show people what can be done,” he says, noting that the average person may not choose to take every step for their own home, but that the project showcases a range of options to choose from, each another step toward making a new home more efficient and eco-friendly.

As part of its efforts to educate consumers, Randall put together a package of video clips describing the eco-friendly selections made in The Sage, placing emphasis on why the products were chosen and demonstrating the relative ease of such decisions.

Katy Tomasulo is Deputy Editor for EcoHome

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Favorites: Nicole Facciuto

Facciuto’s top product picks
By Matthew Marin

October 07, 2009

Demonstrating a talent for turning drab spaces into stylish, environmentally sustainable interiors, Nicole Facciuto, LEED AP, of HGTV’s Red Hot and Green, has inspired viewers and homeowners with her spirited on-camera presence and passion for green design. As founder and principal of her bi-coastal design firm, Nicole Facciuto Design, Facciuto strives to create beautiful, livable spaces that meet her clients’ aesthetic, functional and economic goals while respecting the environment. For Facciuto, embracing eco-friendly living began while growing up on an organic walnut farm in Northern California. “Green has always been close to my heart,” she said.

Being aware of the surrounding environment is the most important step when choosing environmentally conscious products, according to Facciuto. “Take your time to find products that fit your needs and consider how they will impact the environment,” she said. “There’s so much to choose from; going green now spans all design styles.” One of her favorite products is Tiger Mountain Innovations’ Squak Mountain Stone countertops [1], which can take on the industrial look of concrete or the rustic appearance of slate, but are made from low-carbon cement, recycled paper and recycled glass.

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stories of sustainability: Squak Mountain Stone

by aleida, on December 10th, 2009

squak 5 Image courtesy of Squak Mountain Stone web site 

By far one of our favorite origin stories is the one behind a material called Squak Mountain Stone. We had an unexpected chance to speak with and get all the details from Ameé Quiriconi, founder of Tiger Mountain Innovations, based in Seattle, Washington. 

Her interest in sustainable building practices dates back almost a decade. By 2001, she was already a LEED accredited professional. She decided to round out her education by enrolling at Antioch University for her master’s degree. One quarter, she wrote an economics paper about local economies. Inspired by a building material called papercrete, she explored the academic principle of regional manufacturing. Ameé theorized that if you could develop a product whose raw ingredients can be found in any community in any state, then you could develop a business model to commercialize it and have that regionally manufactured product available to… well, any community. Papercrete, a mix of paper pulp gathered from recycled sources and added to a cement binder, seemed a fitting inspiration since recycled paper can be found anywhere, and cement is readily available. At the time when she wrote this paper, she thought the end product could be geared toward vertical interior applications, perhaps as wall treatments. 

Ameé liked the idea so much that she wondered why no one was doing something like it. So, in the shed of her home, she launched her experiments. Both the name of the company and the name of the product are inspired by the mountains surrounding Issaquah, WA, where her home is located. She started with a hand mixer, a hand polisher, a few spring-form baking pans, and sacks of raw material that she herself sourced from the community. Absolutely everything was done by hand. 

squak 8About a year later, by early 2003, her experiments had yielded something she could show. She took a few of her hand-cast samples and presented them to officials in King County, who offered help in the form of money so that she could secure some technical support. This allowed her to then develop the early versions of Squak Mountain Stone. 

A year after that, in early 2004, King County issued a press release about her fledgling business, and the story was picked up by a couple of local newspapers. The Seattle-based Environmental Home Center saw one of these articles, where Ameé was pictured hand-polishing a slab of the material, and came to her aid. They wanted to see her product get further along, and offered to pre-qualify clients who they thought would be good beta customers for the material. This would allow Ameé to develop the programs (like manufacturing and marketing) that were necessary to take the product out of her garage and into commercial viability. 

With this help, she finally picked up an actual shop. However, without any employees, she relied on help from family and friends. On Saturdays, Ameé, two of her friends, and her husband would cast the slabs that she would polish later during the week. It wasn’t until 2005 that she was able to hire her company’s first full time employee and a second part time employee. Also in 2005, the Environmental Home Center started to sell Squak Mountain Stone, which further helped her to expand her customer base. 

squak mountain Image courtesy of Squak Mountain Stone web site 

Over the years, the material itself has evolved. In the beginning, the recipe called for Portland cement and granite dust as binders. The granite dust eventually gave way to coal fly ash, which in turn has more recently been replaced by 100% recycled crushed glass. About three years ago, the mix transitioned from Portland cement to low-carbon cement. Infrastructure improvements now allow for slabs as large as 56” x 96” and as long as 16’ whose thickness is gauged to within +-2 mm of variation. This evolution is actually visible, even in the small samples that they produce. (The samples in our library, which we received about three years ago, are decidedly rough in comparison.) 

A recent merger has expanded the product offering to include Trinity Glass, a line of solid surfacing material that incorporates 100% post-consumer recycled clear glass sourced in King County itself (the cullet comes from plate window glass). Their Pacific Collection presents a color palette wholly inspired by hues that Ameé noticed during a stroll on the beach, and which she photographed for further exploration. 

Undoubtedly, though perhaps little by little, Ameé will continue to prove the viability of her original thesis. Already she has proven that the idea can transition from theory to practice in at least one place. These products are not just environmentally friendly; their genuine locally-sourced lineage makes them stand out from the pack. 

Thank you, Ameé, for your time! 



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Tiger Mountain Innovations presented Squak Mountain Stone and our newest “baby” Trinity Glass Products at Greenbuild in Phoenix last month.  We had a terrific response to both products.  It was an excellent opportunity to meet with existing customers and to meet new ones.  Thank you all for making Greenbuild a success!  We look forward to working with all of you in 2010 and for years to come.

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