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Using materials recovered from the waste stream typically results in less waste, pollution, and energy use than using virgin materials. From an environmental standpoint, post-consumer is typically considered preferable to pre-consumer recycled content because post-consumer recycled materials are more likely to have been diverted from landfills.

In some cases, we consider products with recycled content green but with some caveats regarding where they should be used. For example, rubber flooring made from recycled automobile tires should not be used in most fully enclosed indoor spaces due to the likelihood of VOC emissions.

Recycling can have downsides. For example, some studies show that curbside collection programs and some recycling processes use more energy than they save. Closed-loop recycling is generally preferable to “down-cycling,” in which a lower-grade material is produced—but due to contamination of waste streams and the difficulty of extracting high-value ingredients, down-cycling may be as good as it gets. At times recycling can re-introduce hazardous components. Some products, like copper and aluminum, include a high level of recycled content as a matter of course—which we applaud, but don’t consider justification for listing in GreenSpec. As more complete life-cycle information on recycled materials and processes becomes available, we use that to increase our scrutiny of recycled products.

Using materials recovered from the waste stream typically results in less waste, pollution, and energy use than using virgin materials. From an environmental standpoint, post-consumer is typically considered preferable to pre-consumer recycled content because post-consumer recycled materials are more likely to have been diverted from landfills.

In some cases, we consider products with recycled content green but with some caveats regarding where they should be used. For example, rubber flooring made from recycled automobile tires should not be used in most fully enclosed indoor spaces due to the likelihood of VOC emissions.

  • GR Green Cedar and GR Green Slate Shingles
  • GR Green Cedar and GR Green Slate Shingles
  • GR Green Building Products
  • GR Green Cedar and GR Green Slate Shingles
    GR Green Building Products
    GR Green Cedar and GR Green Slate are synthetic roofing shingles composed of 20% post-consumer thermoplastic from recycled milk cartons and plastic bags and 80% limestone. Both products meet industry testing standards for heat aging (ASTM D790-07) and water resistance (CCMC Section 6.4.2). GR Green slate tiles are 18" long and 10" wide. GR Green Cedar tiles are 18" long and come with four different widths supplied in each bundle: 11", 7", 5.5", and 4". The company provides a 50 year limited warranty.
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  • Ecocell Cellulose Batts and Blanket Insulation
  • Ecocell Cellulose Batts and Blanket Insulation
  • Cellulose Material Solutions
  • Ecocell Cellulose Batts and Blanket Insulation
    Cellulose Material Solutions
    Cellulose Material Solutions offers Ecocell batts and blankets that are made of 60% cellulose from recycled paper, along with cotton, and jute with a polyethylene binder. Ecocell achieves a Class A fire rating (ASTM E-84 Standard) using borates, which also prevent pest intrusion. Ecocell blankets are R-3.7 while the batts are R-3.6, with a density of 2.5 pcf. The batts also achieve an acoustical rating of STC 50. Batts are available in 16" and 24" widths (0.4m and 0.6m) and 94" and 96" (2.4m) lengths. Blankets are 48" x 96" (1.2m x 2.4m) or 48" x 108" (1.2m x 2.7m).
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  • FilterPave Porous Pavement
  • FilterPave Porous Pavement
  • FilterPave
  • FilterPave Porous Pavement
    FilterPave
    FilterPave is a porous pavement that can support pedestrian and light vehicular traffic loads. With a compressive strength of 1,160 psi and a flexural strength of 508 psi, the pavement is designed for applications like sidewalks, patios, bike paths, and driveways. The poured-in-place material has a porosity of 39% and an SRI of 29. According to tests conducted by the University of Central Florida, FilterPave provides 6.2 inches per hour of infiltration even with excessive sediment loading and 33.1 inches per hour after a rejuvenation cycle. The pavement is a mix of 100% post-consumer glass and regionally sourced stone and aggregate, bonded with a polyurethane elastomeric resin. FilterPave Glass Series has over 20% glass, and FilterPave Stone Series may be mixed with up to 20% glass.
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  • Fellert Acoustical Plaster
  • Fellert Acoustical Plaster
  • Fellert USA
  • Fellert Acoustical Plaster
    Fellert USA
    The makers of Fellert Acoustical Plaster claim their product solves cracking problems while also providing an exceptional NRC rating of 0.85–0.90. Acoustical plaster provides a highly reflective interior that also absorbs sound and reduces noise even in large, open space, but its seamless look often doesn’t last because plasters tend to crack with normal settling and other loads. With a backing made of acoustical fiberglass board and spray-applied plaster incorporating perlite, bentonite, and post-consumer recycled cotton, Fellert Acoustical Plaster can flex—with an internal stress rating of 2.1 according to ASTM D6991-05. The product is installed with PVC-based C-channels.
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  • Creative Office Systems Remanufactured Furniture
  • Creative Office Systems Remanufactured Furniture
  • Creative Office Systems, Inc. (COS)
  • Creative Office Systems Remanufactured Furniture
    Creative Office Systems, Inc. (COS)
    Creative Office Systems specializes in the recycling and remanufacturing of Herman Miller and Haworth systems furniture and other products. Products typically have 70% post-consumer content and the company also offers 100% recycled content fabrics and finishes. Paints and adhesives have low or no VOC emissions, and no solvents are used. Case goods including conference rooms, reception areas, and private offices may be manufactured using FSC-certified wood. Creative Office also runs a take-back program where its own products can be returned to be remanufactured again.
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  • R.A.C.E. Refurbished Office Furniture
  • R.A.C.E. Refurbished Office Furniture
  • R.A.C.E.
  • R.A.C.E. Refurbished Office Furniture
    R.A.C.E.
    R.A.C.E. refurbishes Herman Miller office furniture and partitioning systems with a typical work cluster configuration having a total recycled content value of 50%. R.A.C.E. metal parts are powder coated with a VOC-free durable finish, according to the company, and its adhesives are solvent-free. The company offers a number of 100% recycled content polyester fabrics and FSC-certified materials on a special order basis.
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  • UniRac PV Mounting Systems
  • UniRac PV Mounting Systems
  • UniRac, Inc.
  • UniRac PV Mounting Systems
    UniRac, Inc.
    UniRac produces systems for mounting PV modules. SolarMount is a system of components for flat and tilted roofs. SolarMount-I has an enhanced I-beam design and is cost effective at 10 cents per watt, according to the company. SolarMount-E is geared to distributors and installers with universal design and fewer stocking parts. RapidRac is a residential flat roof mount that has only seven components. SunFrame offers building integration, a low-profile, and a choice of finishes. U-LA is for arrays of 3-kW or more. UniRac typically uses 20%–25% post-consumer recycled aluminum and 75% post-consumer recycled steel. Most shipping materials are salvaged or have recycled-content.
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  • Caraustar Concrete Column Forms
  • Caraustar Concrete Column Forms
  • Caraustar ICPG Corp.
  • Caraustar Concrete Column Forms
    Caraustar ICPG Corp.
    Caraustar (formerly Smurfit) Concrete Column Forms are recycled-paper concrete forms with a polyethylene-impregnated virgin kraft interior layer (to aid release) and a waxed exterior. The recycled-paper content is estimated to be 90% from mixed, post-industrial, and post-consumer sources, according to the company. Caraustar Concrete Column Forms are available in a full range of diameters up to 60''.
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  • MM6125-EV Modified Bituminous Membrane
  • MM6125-EV Modified Bituminous Membrane
  • American Hydrotech, Inc.
  • MM6125-EV Modified Bituminous Membrane
    American Hydrotech, Inc.
    MM6125-EV is a roofing membrane consisting of reclaimed rubber and recycled oil. This membrane is most often used in an insulated roof membrane assembly (IRMA). It can also be applied to foundation walls, parking decks, tunnels or planters, but is not intended to be exposed or traffic-bearing. Weight of the installed membrane is 1.17 psf for the standard assembly.
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  • ATS Acoustic Ceiling Panels
  • ATS Acoustic Ceiling Panels
  • ATS Acoustics
  • ATS Acoustic Ceiling Panels
    ATS Acoustics
    ATS Acoustic Eco-Panels provide sound control in commercial and residential applications such as conference rooms, schools, offices, and apartment complexes. They have an NRC sound absorption rating of 1.0 and are available with either 80% pre-consumer recycled cotton or Ecose fiberglass from Knauf, which contains 58% post-consumer recycled content and uses a formaldehyde-free binder (Ecose products have a Class A fire rating; cotton are Class B). Frames are made from 90% pre-consumer HDPE and the backing is FSC-certified PureBond plywood. These panels are available in a variety of colors and in sizes up to 24"x48"x 4". Custom panels are also available.
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  • Kinetex Floor Tiles
  • Kinetex Floor Tiles
  • J&J Flooring Group
  • Kinetex Floor Tiles
    J&J Flooring Group
    J&J Flooring Group’s Kinetex is a soft surface floor covering intended for use in place of hard surfaces such as vinyl composite tiles in medium- to high-traffic commercial applications. These 24" x 24" semi-rigid tiles are 0.20" thick, compared to 0.25"–0.60" for standard carpet tiles, and are engineered with a wear layer made from solution dyed PET that resists staining or bleaching and is woven for abrasion resistance and durability. Kinetex is made from 60% recycled content (50% post-consumer PET sourced primarily from water and soda bottles) and, unlike carpet, can be ground and processed into new backing in one step without costly material separation and sorting or loss of performance. Kinetex is treated with perfluorinated compounds to resist dirt and improve its lifespan, but its long-term environmental impact is a concern to GreenSpec.
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  • Ventgrid12 Panels
  • Ventgrid12 Panels
  • Ventgrid
  • Ventgrid12 Panels
    Ventgrid
    VentGrid12 is an open-grid panel made of 100% post-consumer recycled polyolefin plastic. The plastic is lightweight and highly resistant to deterioration or mold growth, making it useful where drainage or ventilation space is required such as in subfloors over concrete slabs, in exterior rainscreen assemblies, under cedar roof shakes and shingles, and beneath pavers on flat roofs. VentGrid12 comes in 4' x 8' x ½" sheets with ¼" long stand-off dimples. Each sheet weighs 8 lbs. and comes with pre-formed fastener holes for simple installation. VentGrid12 has a vertical load capacity of 8,000 lbs/ft², according to the company. The plastic can be easily snipped with standard hand sheers, or scored and snapped.
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  • Visio Chair
  • Visio Chair
  • Teknion
  • Visio Chair
    Teknion
    Teknion's Visio office chair is made of 50% recycled materials (11% post-consumer) and intended to be almost completely recyclable at the end of its service life. The chair's seat, arms, back, and headrest are adjustable in height and tilt, and the chair is available in five fabric colors. Visio is certified to BIFMA Level 2 and Greenguard Gold and is Living Building Challenge Red List Free.
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  • EZ Roll Grass and Gravel Pavers
  • EZ Roll Grass and Gravel Pavers
  • NDS
  • EZ Roll Grass and Gravel Pavers
    NDS
    EZ Roll Grass and Gravel Pavers are permeable paving systems that provide a honeycomb matrix to retain grass or gravel and prevent soil compaction while allowing water to pass through. The product averages approximately 70% recycled HDPE plastic, though this varies by color and availability. EZ Roll Grass Pavers, with an empty compressive strength of 57,890 psf, are recommended for bike paths, driveways, parking lots, and access roads, as well as soil stabilization and erosion-control applications. EZ Roll Gravel Pavers, with an empty compressive strength of 66,000 psf, are additionally recommended for vehicle wash-down areas and boat access. Gravel pavers are available in tan, black, brick red, and gray, but some colors contain no recycled material. EZ Roll Pavers are 1" high and come in various dimensions, most commonly 4'x150' rolls.
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  • Earth Tub Compost System
  • Earth Tub Compost System
  • Green Mountain Technologies
  • Earth Tub Compost System
    Green Mountain Technologies
    Earth Tub is a small in-vessel composting system with a motorized auger to aerate the compost and a biofilter and fan to minimize odors. The rotating top of the vessel must be turned manually on a daily basis as well. Units can accept up to 100 pounds of organic waste per day and are designed for use by supermarkets, commercial kitchens, restaurants, and hospitals; multiple systems can be designed for batch composting. The insulated polyethylene tub base is made of 50% post-consumer and 50% pre-consumer plastic, and the system consumes approximately 1,080 kWh per year, according to the company. Compost can be harvested approximately every four weeks and should be cured before spreading directly on beds.
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