On October 15th, California Governor, Jerry Brown, signed into law, the “Buy Clean California Act.” The intention of this law to prevent contractors from using material that is shipped in other states and countries with considerably lower quality than standards than required by California. At the same time, it is pushing the envelope with respect to forcing contractors to use better quality materials. Specifically, this law affects the following materials: carbon steel rebar, flat glass, mineral wool board insulation and structural steel. It only applies to contractors bidding on state projects, including its substantial state university network.
While it does only apply to state construction jobs, it is estimated that that market alone is worth $10 Billion, so it will have quite an effect on the market.
The way the law will work is that all contractors must submit an Environmental Product Declaration for each product indicating that they have chosen products that have the lowest possible impact on greenhouse gases within its category. Maximum GHG levels for each category still have to be determined, and the law will go into effect in 2019.
This is a very progressive law and could have the effect of raising standards across the country. Most building material manufacturers located in North America already try to develop products to meet California standards. The fallout, however, could also be that more inferior products get sucked up by other North American markets if manufacturers feel that they’ve suddenly lost a market in California and push it on other jurisdictions — especially in recent hurricane zones in Texas and Florida.
In Rotterdam, BlueCity is a Circular Economy incubator for companies developing technologies that create products from waste. So far they have about 12 companies that are working within their facilities – which are located in a defunct indoor tropical swimming centre called Tropicana. Instead of tearing down the building, this group has gone in to give it a second life. In terms of the kinds of businesses they have been incubating, here is how they explain it:
The entrepreneurs located in BlueCity all connect their waste-streams in different ways.The coffee-waste that is produced by Aloha Bar-Restaurant serves as nutritious soil for the mushrooms of RotterZwam. The carbon dioxide that is released in the process is used by Spireaux for the creation of Spirulina, and in BlueCity Lab mycelium is used to develop packaging materials. Of course, to complete this perfect circle, you will ultimately find the mushrooms that grew on the coffee waste of Aloha on the menu of the same restaurant. [source]
They recently launched the BlueCity Circular Challenge in which they challenged multi-disciplinary teams of students and young professionals to come up with solutions to some chronic waste problems. Four companies offered up their waste streams to see if the teams could come up with a marketable product from the waste. The waste streams were:
disposable coffee cups,
the filtered-out waste from sewage treatment plants (ie., sanitary products and flushable wipes, etc… – stuff that isn’t even supposed to go into the sewage system but ends up there anyway),
electric meters made out of Bakelite,
the horticultural business left if up to the team to decide which waste stream to address.
The winner was the team that took the filtered-out waste and turned it into a substrate for green roofs. It turns out that all those products (sanitary napkins, tampons, wipes…) are also highly absorbent, meaning they can soak up a lot of liquid. That makes them a great starting product for a green roof base because they can hold enough water to help get the plants going and can absorb rain really well while diverting rain from the sewer system. The idea is to sterilize, dry and compress the waste into tiles, and then use it in green roofs as a substrate. The team won €5,000 and a place at BlueCity to further explore their idea.
Let’s face it: it’s hard to write anything truly exciting about the flush capabilities of a toilet. On the other hand, we’ve all used low-flow toilets that don’t get the job done. Usually the pressure isn’t good enough and you need to flush two or three times completely defeating the whole low-flush feature. There are a few companies that are making progress in this area, and Sustainable Solutions International is one of them. This company has just launched its 0.8 gallon (that’s 3 litres in Canada) toilet that has a MaP score of 800 (in other words, it can flush 800 grams in one go). (If you want to know more about MaP scores, see this post from a few years ago). Note that most water efficient toilets are either 6 liter/1.6 gallons or dual flush, making this toilet twice as water-friendly.
Some of its key features are the following:
This toilet is at a low-cost point making them the affordable choice for large hotels and commercial building specifications.
This is one of the lowest gpf toilets on the market today at a mere .8pf. Built to last, the NO CLOG POINT 8 toilet doesn’t skimp on performance.
The SSi NO CLOG POINT 8 toilet uses a brilliantly engineered simple technology that isn’t dependent upon complicated pressure or vacuum assisted mechanisms as seen in their competitors’ toilets – ultimately saving expensive maintenance costs. It installs like any other toilet.
As its name implies, “NO CLOG” hotel owners will have little need for service calls due to clogged toilets as the NO CLOG trapway is double industry standard size.
The toilets are made for everyone in mind and the Easy Height toilet is ADA-Compliant. A bonus is the ADA-compliant lever handle.
“No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.”
Like many others out there I am suffering from climate anxiety, and yes, it’s a thing. In fact, there is even a 9 step program for it available in some cities.
I sometimes feel like there is very little I can do to help reverse the fairly dire situation we have gotten ourselves into. Right now, people on the front line, such as scientists, politicians, and civil servants, are working on developing adaptations to climate change. There are small island countries, such as the Maldives, in the Pacific Ocean whose governments have bought land on nearby mainland for the inevitable time that their homeland is under water; officials from cities along the shores of the east coast of the United States are regularly visiting Holland to take lessons on how they have adapted to living below sea level. » Read more: Drawdown – A Playbook for the Climate Anxious
We are in the market for a new car and so we thought that maybe the time is right to look at electric vehicles. We’ve been thinking about them for a while and I admit that if I ever win Loto 649 the first thing I’ll do is buy a Tesla model S. Up until this year, Tesla has been the only car on the market to provide enough range for roadtrips (the Toronto-Montreal corridor being my personal yardstick at 500 km) which has been a significant limiting factor for our family taking the e-car plunge. Recently, however, Chevy has come out with the Bolt (an unfortunate choice of names, given how often people confuse it with the Volt) which has a range of 380km.
The timing of the opening of the Electric Vehicle Discovery Centre was perfect; my husband and I were in Toronto in May for work and we decided to visit the centre to find out more about electric cars. The staff has a wealth of knowledge on the subject and there are plenty of interactive displays around the showroom to help you understand the technology if they happen to be busy with other customers. » Read more: Seven Things I Didn’t Know About Electric Cars
For the most part we rely on third party organizations to determine what is and isn't a "green building material." The only time we might not is when products are locally produced or no third party green designation is available for the product.