A green product's value is determined holistically by considering the energy savings it brings to the end user, the manufacture of its materials, and how far those materials were required to travel for assembly. The fabric on a wall panel, for instance, may be adept at removing a high percentage of VOCs from the interior of schools and hospitals—but a week-long, cross-country journey through the supply chain in order to arrive at its final destination may negate some of the green technology's benefits.
We asked building-product manufacturers exhibiting at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, Nov. 20-22 in Philadelphia, to identify the origin of materials used in their products. And some manufacturing plants are closer to their sources than one might think. Mouse over the icons on the map to trace the paths of a variety of building materials and read about the products below.
Hometown: Medina, Wash.
BikeLid, BikeLid, LLC • Manufactured in Idaho from post-consumer recycled polyethylene and steel, these lockers protect bicycles from theft and weather, and they have been used in many LEED-certified projects. Sourcing: Nampa, Idaho (steel); Caldwell, Idaho (plastic)
Hometown: Homer, N.Y.
Pounce Systems, Cortland Research • Made in the neighboring city of Groton, N.Y., this system of wireless electrical switches and outlets has built-in metering and can remotely control energy usage, as well as room temperature based on occupancy. Sourcing: Sherburne, N.Y. (plastic components); Oneida, N.Y. (wiring); Whitman, Mass. (metal stamped parts)
Hometown: Cambridge, Mass.
Aluminum windows, Yaro Windows + Doors • Though it employs the window profiles developed by manufacturing partner Schüco, a Germany company, Yaro makes its Passive House Uf 0.18 aluminum window system in nearby Northampton, Mass. Sourcing: Borgholzhausen, Germany (Schüco window profiles); various regional locations (aluminum)
Hometown: Racine, Wis.
Thru-Wall bricks, CalStar Products • Comprising 37 percent recycled content, CalStar's bricks contain 81 percent less embodied energy and generate 84 percent less carbon dioxide in their manufacture than do conventional bricks. They do not use Portland cement or need to be kiln fired. Sourcing: Oak Creek, Wis. (fly ash), various local locations (sand)
Hometown: Spring Lake, Mich.
LiveWall, LiveWall Green Wall Systems • Plants can clad building façades or become freestanding installations using LiveWall's track-mounted planters, which are made from recycled, architectural-grade plastic. Sourcing: Grand Haven, Mich. (planters); Niles, Mich. (rails)
Hometown: Fort Wayne, Ind.
Environmentalist/Zero-Bleed 2000, Superior Manufacturing Corp. • This chemical-free water treatment system uses magnetic fields to prevent hard-water lime-scale buildup in HVAC equipment. Sourcing: Fort Wayne, Ind. (steel framework, magnet)
Hometown: Conroe, Texas
Flowtite water storage tank, Containment Solutions • Manufactured right in the company's headquarters, the underground fiberglass tank can store rainwater, graywater, and potable water, as well as separate oil and other contaminants from water for irrigation use. Sourcing: Houston, Texas (fiberglass)
Hometown: Tuscaloosa, Ala.
SheerWeave Infinity2, Phifer • Recyclable and PVC-free, this window shade fabric is woven from a pre-consumer byproduct from another manufacturer (in Atlanta) and made at Phifer's Alabama headquarters. Sourcing: Atlanta, Ga. (shade fabric)
Hometown: Cumming, Ga.
Type DID632 active chilled beam, Trox • Chilled beams allow air handlers and ducts to be sized smaller. Julie Mullen, AIA, an associate and senior project manager at Perkins+Will, selected Trox active chilled beams for the Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital's North Tower expansion project in Greensboro, N.C. "From an infection-control point of view, you’re not recycling air that gets air mixed with other air in patient rooms," she says. Sourcing: Texas and Mississippi (Trox would not disclose individual materials or the cities they were sourced from)