Nice to be back in the thick of things, but not nice to see the state in the same predicament, or a somewhat worse with the issuing of IOUs, as before I left on vacation…

So, let’s deviate this week and look at green, sustainable products. The editors at Sustainable Industries magazine released its annual Top Green Building Products list, and this one could be useful to our contractor and architect readers.

The winners were selected based on their environmental performance, scalability/market impact, innovativeness, design aesthetic, value and compatibility with the USGBC’s LEED rating system.

The 2009 Top 10 Green Building Product winners (with descriptions by the Sustainable Industries editors) are:


Acadia Combined Heating and Cooling System -- Made by Hallowell International (

The Acadia is not just another heating and cooling system. It maintains 200% efficiency even when outdoor temperatures drop well below zero. When heating oil prices were sky high, Acadia users were saving up to 70% in energy costs.


ec-H20 -- Made by Tennant Co. (

Requiring no chemicals, ec-H2O uses tap water to clean most any surface of most any substance. Each machine reduces water usage by 70% to 80%, and the potential of 245 million gallons of water each year if it were installed in all new floor-cleaning machines.


InSpire Wall -- Made by ATAS International (

This simple, elegant technology essentially uses the power of the sun to heat outdoor air before sending it indoors, thereby slashing energy use while boosting indoor air quality. Depending on what kind of heating fuel is being replaced, this product can reduce heating costs by up to $5 for each sq ft of InSpire Wall installed.


kama EEBS Structural Systems -- Made by kama Energy Efficient Building Systems Inc. (

kama EEBS Structural Systems integrate light gauge metal stud framing system with expanded polystyrene insulation in a proprietary design that eliminates thermal bridging and helps to create a tight, energy-efficient building envelope.


PlybooPure Bamboo Plywood -- Made by Smith & Fong Co. (

Because it’s technically a grass, bamboo had not previously been eligible for FSC certification. But in January 2008, after two years of lobbying, Smith & Fong achieved this first that propelled it to recognition on this year’s Top 10 list.


RainTube -- Made by GLI Systems Inc. (

This product received more Top 10 nominations than any other product this year. RainTube is a rain gutter filter made of 100% post-consumer high-density polyethylene – old milk jugs, in other words. This product is also Cradle to Cradle-certified, meaning that GLI Systems Inc. had to develop a Post-Use Recovery Plan that goes out with every product.


Separett Villa -- Made by Separett (

This urine-diverting composting toilet – which is 100% PVC fee – uses no water and keeps solids separate from liquids, reducing odor and making it possible to reuse waste and urine for composting and fertilizing. The Separett Villa can be deployed where no plumbing exists, allowing for a greater reach of the technology.


Serious Windows -- Made by Serious Materials (

Serious Windows are so efficient they have the potential to allow for the elimination of a building’s heating system, allowing waste heat from building appliances to serve as the main heat source in some applications. The windows have a full-frame R value of at least five and up to 11, which can cut a building’s energy bills by up to 50% per month.


Solatube Daylighting Systems -- Made by Solatube International (

This patented technology catches direct sunlight and redirects it down an adjustable-length tube, bringing daylight to parts of buildings that would not otherwise have access to natural light. The Visa, Calif.-based company recently launched a product specifically designed for commercial applications, making it ideal for large-roofed warehouses and manufacturing facilities, as well as retail stores and schools – all places that have been shown to benefit from increased daylight, as daylight is linked to higher worker productivity, decreased absenteeism and better retail sales.


Your Old Light Fixture -- Made by Eleek (

Eleek is the only business to make the Top 10 Green Building Products list all four years. Though not a product: Eleek’s lighting restoration service speaks to the important concept of the re-use of existing goods. When Eleek restores a light fixture, every piece of a fixture is taken apart, repaired and restored to its original splendor. Its wiring is updated to comply with modern codes and standards and a new lamp base is installed so it works with energy-efficient lamps such as CFLs and LEDs.