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Shikkui Plaster

Shikkui Plaster is a traditional Japanese lime plaster made of slaked lime, seaweed extracts, natural plant fiber and other aggregates… Read more
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  • Some materials provide a better alternative in an application dominated by products for which there are concerns about toxic constituents, intermediaries, or by-products. With the panoply of products made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants, some products are green simply because they provide an alternative. Examples of this are natural wall coverings, drain and vent piping, and roofing membranes. Some green products are free of hazards common to the product category; for example, LED lighting is inherently free of the mercury found in fluorescent lighting sources.

    However, it’s worth noting that without transparency about actual ingredients, there’s no guarantee that a product won’t have less common or less well-known hazards that the manufacturer isn’t talking about. We use Pharos’s Chemical and Material Library to assess less well-known hazards, and we encourage manufacturers to review the hazardous properties of all chemicals they use and seek out safer materials.

  • These products are environmentally attractive because they need to be replaced less frequently or their maintenance has very low impact, both of which can reduce costs as well as environmental impact.
    Robust answers on typical service life of products can be hard to come by, however. In GreenSpec we reserve this criterion for products where the material is clearly more durable than alternatives, such as an exceptionally traffic-resistant polyurethane floor finish. We refer to standardized tests for durability when they are available and appropriate.
    We also consider “appropriate durability”: long life is more important in a building envelope than in interior finish materials that will be replaced for aesthetic reasons. Here, reduced maintenance can be particularly important. An example is resilient flooring that doesn’t require regular waxing: an unnecessary use of resources and a health hazard.

  • Just how low the VOC level needs to be for a given product to qualify for inclusion in GreenSpec depends on the product category. For most products, we require certification to California’s health-based emissions standard, CDPH Std Method v1.1 standard (also referred to as California Section 01350), which tests a product’s resultant VOC concentrations in the space after a given period of time. For wet-applied products like paints, caulks, and adhesives, we still also look for VOC content instead of, or in addition to, verified low emissions; this is because emissions testing doesn’t adequately test initial offgassing, and VOC content is currently the only widely available proxy.

Brent Ehrlich
Products Editor

Shikkui Plaster is a traditional Japanese lime plaster made of slaked lime, seaweed extracts, natural plant fiber and other aggregates. It has been widely used throughout Japan for both internal and external walls of houses, temples and castles, as well as for ceilings and decorative purposes for over 1,000 years. Products include pre-mixed powdered white plaster and textured plaster in eight colors, as well as a ready-to-use plaster for exterior and interior surfaces. Depending on the substrate, a base coat may be needed—both the Interior Base and the Cement Base are made of a combination of benign calcium compounds and vinyl acetate, along with portland cement for the cement base. The product is being distributed in the U.S. by Tariki, Ltd, with distribution points in Boston and Los Angeles.

Lime plasters can have slightly lower embodied energy than portland-cement-based plasters, and they don't include petroleum-based ingredients, as acrylic plasters do. Integral natural pigments obviate the need for painting.

Products listed here include natural lime plasters and wall coatings made from ingredients such as clay, sand, and cellulose.

Repairing old plaster is preferable to material-intensive replacement, so some plaster repair systems are also included.

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