Green building efforts were presented in force at the 2006 International Builders' Show by plastics manufacturers that continue to push product breadth and depth to serve the growing sector.
At one booth, Dow Building Products exposed show visitors to 78° F in Phoenix and 22° F in Michigan. It's the insulation that matters, officials said, showcasing Dow products such as its Styrofoam Blueguard extruded foam insulation on oriented strand board, to show how it prevents moisture buildup and heat loss.
``Heat rises, cold falls, you get this thing called convective looping,'' explained Tim Lacey, global marketing director for Dow's Building and Construction group.
Convective looping is to be avoided.
Rising energy costs make such products more appealing, according to Dow. But this was the point: The demand for green building continues to grow in the United States, and more plastics manufacturers are making it part of their marketing efforts.
Plastics manufacturers, in many cases, are leading the race in setting new construction standards for building homes for a future where higher energy prices are a given and environmental awareness is greater. In addition to technological advancements related to more energy-efficient appliances, building techniques related to plumbing, roofs, windows, foundations and walls all have contributed to making homes built today twice as efficient as those built 30 years ago, officials said.
``Our goal is to dispel myths and rumors,'' Lacey said in a Jan. 12 interview at the show. ``Green building is understanding how a wall and how a home works.''
Ward Hubbell, executive director of the Portland, Ore.-based Green Building Initiative, said the show was the perfect example of green building gaining a greater foothold in the industry.
``Just walk around this hall and look at the displays,'' Hubbell said in a Jan. 11 interview. ``The fundamental elements of green building are pervasive at this show.''
The number of homes being built using green principles is increasing every year, he said. According to National Association of Homebuilders statistics, about 61,000 homes were built using such guidelines from 1990-2004. But just in 2004, more than 14,000 green homes were built.
``There's no question, if done properly, it's a benefit long term,'' Hubbell said. ``It's the general proposition of making homes more durable.''
Home affordability and sustainability is the goal of green building, according to several officials.
Cathy Kim, vice president of marketing with Green Sandwich Technologies Inc. of North Hollywood, Calif., said her company's product is an environmentally friendly material that disrupts the environment less than other materials.
The company's product, structural concrete insulating panels, are created from a core of BASF Styropor expanded polystyrene foam with a pre-engineered reinforcing cage surrounding and penetrating it, she said.
``We are a growing company, interested in sharing this with the world,'' Kim said.
The company currently has fabrication plants in North Hollywood, Calif.; St. Louis; and Roswell, N.M. Kim said the firm has more plants in the works, but would not disclose details until the plans are finalized.
The firm has a small-scale operation in Pakistan, with equipment to make panels for relief housing. It has been operating for two months.
Green Sandwich Technologies worked in Malkan, Pakistan, to build structures in record time, protecting earthquake survivors who are facing deadly winter conditions, according to Green Technologies' Web site.
The company used local labor and was able to build the homes in three days, at about the same cost as a noninsulated, nonearthquake-proof home.
``We believe that everyone should have it,'' Kim said. ``We trained local Pakistanis how to build with our building system. We were able to do that very quickly.''
Alcoa Home Exteriors Inc. President Gary Acinapura said that ``green'' has been accepted as its own product category, ``largely because it's 100 percent recyclable and environmentally friendly.''
``There is a segment seeking that,'' Acinapura said in a Jan. 11 interview.
``We are accepted now as a product category within green building. Again, I believe it's largely because of the certification work that we've been doing now for five or six years, the fact that our product is 100 percent recyclable,'' said Acinapura, who also serves as vice chairman of the Vinyl Siding Institute of Arlington, Va.
``It is environmentally friendly. All those issues play out as an industry perspective. So how do we deal with that? We deal with a lot of builders. The fact that the product category itself is an accepted product category automatically endorses us as a major supplier,'' he said.