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Top Products from the Greenbuild Expo Floor: Part 2

Mem's NaturHemp insulation offers comparable R-values to other batt insulations and is made from rapidly renewable hemp. It is made in Canada, where industrial hemp can be grown legally.


More new products from Greenbuild! This week we introduce you to some water-saving fixtures, recycled content products, a residential rainscreen system, and hemp insulation.

A couple weeks after Greenbuild, and we are still looking at products from a productive show.

Major manufacturers have the budgets for large exhibits on the expo floor to show off their latest offerings. I always enjoy these "booths" because the products are usually well tested and ready for market, but if you want to glimpse some of the real innovators in the industry, it is also worth touring the outer perimeter, where the smaller vendors set up shop.

Water savings from Toto, Kohler, and Delta

Toto was well represented at Greenbuild, as always, and among its many products was its DuoFit In-Wall Tank System. This is a dual-flush toilet that uses either 0.9 or 1.6 gallons per flush. But what is interesting here is that the tank fits between the studs in the wall cavity behind the toilet, even with 2x4 construction. The rim height can be adjusted between 15 and 19 inches.


To prevent any chance of leaks, there are no seams or connections below the water line, and if the fill or flush valve should ever leak, it does so back into the bowl. This bowl has an "upscale look" without the tank, but those extra nine or so inches of bathroom space would make this a good choice for retrofit projects or small bathrooms. Toto also had its one-pint urinal, available with the company's Ecopower Flush Valve, which uses hydropower to keep its internal battery charged .

Kohler takes a different tack with battery technology and had its Hybrid Energy technology on display. Instead of installing hydro- or solar-powered battery-charging systems to power sensors, the company simply decided to install lithium ion batteries that will last for the service life of the faucet. The technology is available on the company's Insight line of 0.5 gallon per minute non-aerated faucets.

Delta had its new touchless Touch2O.xt faucet system on display. This residential faucet can be set to a specific temperature and then, as one gets close enough, it triggers the water flow. You don't need to touch any part of the unit, yet the company claims there is no infrared sensor, which sometimes requires hand-waving before the water comes on; instead, the entire faucet has a four-inch "sensing field." Instead of the water running while washing hands, brushing teeth and the like, it simply shuts off. Inanimate objects cannot trigger the faucet. It is currently only available in 1.5 gallon per minute model, but we hope Delta offers it in an even lower-flow model in the near future.

General Woodcraft's residential rainscreen system attaches to the exterior sheathing with clips rather than furring strips, and is available with FSC-certified wood siding.

Recycled content from Toto/Crossville and VaproShield

Speaking of Toto, Crossville is now including about 4% porcelain from Toto's manufacturing stream for use in its tile products. This pre-consumer recycled porcelain is verified by Scientific Certification Systems and comes from just across the border in Georgia. According to the company, they now use more waste products to create new products than they generate (they recycle 12 million pounds annually). The 4% is just a part of the recycled content the company offers, and some of their tiles contain 50% post-consumer content.

One of the more interesting products at the show also happened to be at a smaller booth off the main corridors: ReNewShield from VaproShield. This is a vapor-permeable air barrier (75 perms) that is made from 70% post-consumer PET from water and soda bottles. ReNewShield can handle 120 days of UV and climate exposure before cladding is installed, according to the company.

Residential/light commercial rainscreen

General Woodcraft, makers of Mataverde hardwood decking and siding, introduced its Climate-Shield Rain Screen Wood Siding System at Greenbuild. Like a simplified commercial rainscreen system, the siding slides into clips that are screwed into the sheathing, creating an air space between the sheathing and the housewrap that allows moisture to escape. It does not require furring strips, and no screws penetrate the siding. A number of siding profiles are available; it can be installed vertically; and FSC-certified wood is available.

Hemp insulation

There was a time when industrial hemp was one of the U.S.'s most important resources (anyone remember the World War II film "Hemp for Victory"?), but that time is long past, and it is illegal to grow industrial hemp in the U.S. without a special permit--even though it has virtually no psychoactive ingredients. The fibers are, however, extremely versatile, and the plant grows quickly and in poor conditions, making it, potentially, a very attractive product.

Two companies were showing their hemp insulations at Greenbuild: American Lime Technologies, which is currently importing its Breathe Insulation, and Mem Inc., which had its NaturHemp on display. Neither product uses a chemical binder, and both are held together with a small amount of polypropylene or polyethylene fiber (<5%). NaturHemp uses ammonium sulfate as a flame retardant, and we are checking on Breathe's flame retardant, as theirs is "proprietary."

Breathe is currently imported from Denmark by special order (and at considerable cost), but the company has plans to set up a manufacturing facility in Wisconsin using fibers imported from Canada. NaturHemp is currently grown and manufactured in Canada and comes in 5.5" thicknesses in dimensions of 16" x 48" or 24" x 48". These products have an R-value similar to other fiber insulations (around R-3.7 per inch), with none of the binders or high firing temperatures of fiberglass or mineral wool. It is fairly rigid and compresses slightly to friction-fit inside the studs, similar to mineral wool.

Mem claims it will not sag, but like cotton and wool batts, installation is likely to be tricky, since hemp is a tough fiber and is not easy to cut. I took a bread knife to our sample, and it was easier to cut with than cotton or wool insulations I've tried, but finding the right tool/saw/blade will be key to simplifying installation, and be prepared for some hemp on the floor.

So there you have it, new products from Greenbuild Toronto! We will be covering some of these in greater detail later, and writing up others that we didn't get a chance to review here, such as Carrier's 13 HSPF air-source heat pump and Syntheon wall system that acts as a continuous insulation. So stay tuned!


Posted by Brent Ehrlich on October 26, 2011


Hemp insulation. We may have

Hemp insulation. We may have now officially seen everything.

Hemp insulation. We may have

Hemp insulation. We may have now officially seen everything.

I've been to some of the expo

I've been to some of the expos from a few years back (Denver, Chicago). It's nice to see a run down on some of the best products. Thanks for the post.

GreenBuild Highlights

Helpful as always. Where's the link to Part 1?

Excellent point!

Great point, Patty! I've just added it up at the top. Thanks for the catch.

In the last decade,

In the last decade, researchers have studied and developed a number of water-saving irrigation technologies. Water is a precious resource and we should use it wisely at all times.

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