Building product manufacturers continue to make strides in the green arena, from 'leasing' materials they will recycle at a later date to pressuring suppliers to follow sustainable practices. For the latest options, check out the GreenBuild Expo from 11/7 to 11/9 in Chicago. ' Rita Catinella Orrell

From top: A garden room designed to connect two houses; certified, rough-sawn, and seasoned timber ready to prepare for an order; logs of certified sapele wood from the Republic of Congo; a conservatory greenhouse.

Glass building manufacturer helps create first sustainable forests in West Africa

Marston & Langinger, a designer and producer of conservatories, garden rooms, and other glass buildings, has helped to create the first “green” forests in West Africa, and attain certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Company founder and design director Peter Marston personally lobbied the Republic of Congo government to ensure reforestation and helped to gain FSC certification for hardwood suppliers in the region.

“We pressed suppliers in Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, and Cameroon to develop FSC forestry management [as well], but they were serving a market that, even now, sees sustainable forestry as little more than fancy marketing. We believe that by publicizing that we’ll only buy FSC, we’ll change attitudes,” explains Marston. Prior to FSC intervention in the region, hardwood from West Africa had been illegally or irresponsibly logged.

The company typically harvests about one million dollars of sapele hardwood from the world’s second-largest rain forest, the Kabo forest in the Republic of Congo. The trees will be carefully felled with a minimum of damage to the surrounding woodland, and new trees of the same species will be planted to replace them. The company also imports certified American tulipwood when durability is not a priority.

In addition to its FSC-certification requirement, Marston & Langinger has other environmentally-friendly policies in place. These include using sawdust and shavings from the manufacturing process to heat the company factory; developing water-based, nontoxic paints that comply with VOC levels for 2007 and 2010; using high-performance insulated glass; issuing salesmen-only hybrid cars for business use; and adhering to a strict, companywide recycling policy.

“A good, well-managed environmental policy has less impact on profitability than generally claimed,” says Marston. “[You need to] make it work for your organization. Everybody needs to follow suit.” Marston & Langinger, New York City.


To buy or lease?

Chroma resin from 3form has been reinvented so it can be reprocessed for a second life. Developed in conjunction with Bayer Material Science, Chroma features Aura, a proprietary color-infusion process that allows 3form to infuse nontoxic colorant at a depth of 250 microns. To encourage recycling, 3form will buy back the panels and reprocess them through its Reclaim program. The material can also be “leased” for a defined period of time and then returned for reprocessing. 3form, Salt Lake City.


From curb to counter

Composed of a patent-pending formula that includes recycled glass, cement, additives, and pigment, Vetrazzo surfacing can be used for countertops, tabletops, flooring, and architectural cladding. All of the glass used in the product is recycled, and it makes up to 85 percent of the final material. Glass sources include curbside recycling programs and a range of postindustrial sources. Fourteen design options are currently available. Vetrazzo, Richmond, Calif.

Dissolving Solution

Shaw’s EcoWorx Performance Broadloom is the commercial carpet industry’s first “cradle to cradle” carpet backing for broadloom, according to the manufacturer. The product utilizes a process where the carpet and backing (below at top) are introduced into a biobased dissolving solution that melts the backing and separates it from the fiber (below at bottom). After the solution evaporates, the polymer can be recovered and recycled. Shaw Contract Group, Calhoun, Ga.