Better information alone doesn’t make a product green, but it does make it a lot easier to see just how green that product actually is. We can make more informed purchasing decisions when we know what’s in a product, not just manufacturer’s claims about what it’s “free-of”; and when we know the actual environmental impacts of manufacturing the product relative to alternatives, not just a trade association’s claim that it’s “green.” Making information public can also help manufacturers get greener. It’s often the manufacturers that are already greener that are willing to share more information in the first place, but in the process of doing so they see where they still need to improve. Products with Environmental Product Declarations are included here, along with products with other forms of disclosure, such as products from companies that participate in the Global Reporting Initiative, or provide full disclosure of ingredients, potentially via the Health Product Declaration format. GreenSpec also lists products that help track buildings' energy and water performance, especially when those tracking tools can be used to publicly display or report energy and water usage.
Equipment and products that enable us to use renewable energy instead of fossil fuels and conventional electricity are highly beneficial. Examples include solar thermal systems, solar electric (photovoltaic) systems, and wind turbines. Other power generation equipment, such as fuel cells and some energy storage systems (like batteries) are included here because they help us accommodate varied energy sources so that we may eventually move beyond fossil-fuel dependence.
iTek manufactures monocrystalline photovoltaic panels in Bellingham, Washington. The company’s 240-watt panels operate at 18% efficiency and the company claims its use of clear, low-iron glass and components were engineered for use in areas with low light levels and increased snow and wind loads, such as the Pacific Northwest.
Choose a photovoltaic (PV) system to fit your energy needs, budget, and the space you have for installing the modules.
Crystalline modules are proven, efficient, and reliable, and produce the most power per square foot, especially during peak hours. You can get these as mono- or polycrystalline products and the lesser-known ribbon technology. They don’t work well on cloudy days or in high heat, however.
Monocrystalline modules are the most efficient rooftop mounted systems, with some modules reaching 20% efficiency. So if you don’t have much space for a PV installation or want maximum power production, these are a good choice. Polycrystalline modules are almost as efficient as monocrystalline, and they are less expensive, so these are a good option for those on a tighter budget or with a little more space for the modules. Thin-film PV is less efficient than crystalline, and less expensive, too.
Thin-film works well in low-light conditions and in high temperatures so over the course of a year can create more power than crystalline PV per rated capacity, but because the rating capacity is lower for the same area, you’ll need a lot more room on the rooftop to have that much capacity. Amorphous silicon (a-Si), cadmium telluride (CdTe), and copper indium selenide (CIS)/copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) are the major technologies.
GreenSpec lists PV modules that have high warranted minimum power ratings—the amount of power the company guarantees the module will produce—and high PTC (PVUsa test conditions) efficiency ratings, which are considered more of a “real world” representation of performance. PTC ratings are used by the California Energy Commission to determine rebates and are usually several points lower than the STC (standard test conditions) ratings.
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Declare is a voluntary self-disclosure program aiming to transform the building materials industry towards healthier and more ecological products through ingredient transparency. Living Building Challenge Compliant means this product meets the requirements of the Red-List Imperative of the Living Building Challenge due to a temporary exception.