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BuildingGreen's 2005 Top 10 Green Building Products

BuildingGreen, Inc, publisher of the GreenSpec Product Directory and Environmental Building News, today announced its 2005 selections of the Top-10 Green Building Products. This fourth annual award, announced at the U.S. Green Building Council's Greenbuild Conference in Atlanta, recognizes the most exciting products added to the GreenSpec Directory during the past year (though some products may have been on the market longer).

"Our selections of the Top-10 Green Building Products represent a wide range of product types," noted GreenSpec coeditor Alex Wilson. Three of BuildingGreen's winning products this year save energy, though all three also offer other environmental benefits. Two products save water. Three products are green in part because they are made from recycled waste or biobased material. Rounding out the list are a biodegradable erosion-control mat and a brand-new flooring alternative for commercial buildings. "Most of the Top-10 products this year have multiple environmental attributes," said Wilson.

Several important trends are reflected in the Top-10 selections this year, according to Wilson. "Dual-flush toilets have arrived," he said. The list includes both a residential dual-flush toilet from one of the largest and most respected toilet manufacturers in the world and a commercial flushometer that brings dual-flush technology to commercial, water-line-pressure toilets.

LED lighting is another important development. BuildingGreen has been watching the development of LED lighting, but until white LEDs achieving as high as 50 lumens per watt arrived, the company considered this technology inappropriate for general lighting applications. "Following very rapid advances in recent years, LED lighting is now a viable option," said Wilson.

Responding to consumer demand, manufacturers have been working hard to introduce products that avoid polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and plasticizers, which are increasingly targeted for avoidance due to concerns about endocrine-disrupting effects. "The introduction of a non-PVC polymer composition tile as an alternative to VCT (vinyl composition tile) late in 2005 was a huge breakthrough," according to Wilson.

Another dramatic development during the year was the introduction of a binder for plywood that does not contain formaldehyde--a chemical that was reclassified in 2004 from a "probable human carcinogen" to a "known human carcinogen." Along with avoiding formaldehyde, this new binder is made from a rapidly renewable material (soybeans) rather than petroleum or natural gas. Products from this manufacturer include panels made from chopped straw and wood veneers that are certified according to standards developed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Finally, 2005 saw the introduction of an ice-based thermal energy storage system that makes off-peak cooling practical for smaller commercial buildings and homes. Until now, making ice at night to provide daytime cooling was limited to large commercial buildings that used chillers. "This is a very significant development," said Wilson, "that will enable utility companies to reduce the use of peaking power plants that are often the most polluting; it will also save a lot of money for building owners who pay electricity demand charges or have time-of-day electricity rates."

BuildingGreen's Top-10 product selections, as in previous years, are drawn from new additions to the company's GreenSpec Product Directory. More than 160 products have been added to the GreenSpec database during the past year. "New products seem to be appearing at an ever-faster pace," said Wilson. The GreenSpec database his company maintains now includes almost 2,000 product listings, representing several times as many actual products.

A big driver in the development of green products continues to be the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Rating System (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which awards points for the use of certain product types or for the energy or water savings that certain green products can achieve. "Designers of LEED buildings are looking for green products, and manufacturers are responding," said Wilson.

The 2005 BuildingGreen Top-10 products are listed below.
  • BioNet Erosion-Control Mats from North American Green
  • PureBond Hardwood Plywood and Agrifiber-Core Panels from Columbia Forest Products
  • Nybacker recycled-carpet tile-backer from NYCORE, Inc.
  • Stonescape from American Biltrite Canada, Ltd.
  • Terratex Biobased Textiles from Interface Fabrics and Carnegie
  • Uppercut Dual-Flush Flushometer Valve from Sloan Valve Company
  • Aquia Dual-Flush Toilet from TOTO USA, Inc.
  • Ice Bear Thermal Energy Storage System from Ice Energy, Inc.
  • UltimateAir RecoupAerator 200-DX ERV from Stirling Technology, Inc.
  • Enbryten LED and Pendant and Downlighting Luminaires from Permlight Products, Inc.
GreenSpec is the leading national directory of green building products. Products are selected by editors of Environmental Building News (EBN) based on criteria developed over the past 14 years. Manufacturers do not pay to be listed in GreenSpec, and neither GreenSpec nor EBN carries advertising; both are supported by users of the information. "Our policy of not accepting money from manufacturers allows us to be objective in our review of products," said Wilson. A new 6th edition of the printed GreenSpec Directory will be published in early 2006. The GreenSpec product database is also available online as part of the BuildingGreen Suite, which is growing quickly in popularity. Environmental Building News, founded in 1992, is the oldest and most widely respected newsletter in the green building field. BuildingGreen, Inc., celebrates its 20th year in business this year. For information on BuildingGreen resources, visit or call 800-861-0954.

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