Fraunhofer Institute CSE To Showcase Contemporary Sustainable Building Technologies in Real-Life Installations for Building and Design Pros

With the constant flow of new products being developed these days for the sustainable building market, it can be easy to feel like using a new product for the first time is taking a big risk. Sometimes, all you have to go on are the presentation from your manufacturer rep, the manufacturer’s reputation and, if you’re lucky, an endorsement from an industry peer who had positive results with the product. It’s not often that architects and contractors get to a see a new product they’re considering installed in a real-life application before making their final decision. The Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE) hopes to help change that in the very near future.

The Fraunhofer CSE is currently remodeling a 100-year-old, 50,000 square-foot warehouse in Boston to be its new headquarters, as well as an important educational outlet for building and design professionals. The retrofitted building will serve as a living laboratory for building product research and demonstration, featuring a wide range of contemporary sustainable building technologies, such as CertainTeed’s AirRenew® M2Tech® IAQ Gypsum Board.

Fraunhofer CSE will evaluate the overall performance of the products after they are incorporated into the building’s various systems and assemblies to help manufacturers give their products a true test run with building-integrated and other applied research methods. The organization also plans to showcase these products in an open-to-the-public exhibition and educational space, using innovative applications, such as smart phone and tablet apps, to call attention to energy saving and/or sustainable construction attributes. This invaluable, unprecedented service will allow everyone, from veteran architects and construction pros to students, to visualize the performance and appearance of the technologies in simulations of real-life installations and learn more about their potential.

Take AirRenew, for instance. An architect or contractor could select it for a project based on the recommendations of others, but being able to experience firsthand how its ability to perpetually scavenge formaldehyde and other VOC emissions from indoor air and trap them inside walls is a huge advantage. This feature greatly improves indoor air quality by removing that very familiar “new-home/building smell” produced by VOC content in finishes and various furnishings, as well as the headaches, nausea and other health issues that sometimes accompany it. By viewing a completed installation of this and other products and learning more about them on-site, the specifier can make more informed, confident decisions, ultimately leading to better results on projects.

Frauhofer CSE is slated to open to the public later this year. For more information, go to  cse.fraunhofer.org. For more information on AirRenew, visit http://www.certainteed.com/products/gypsum.

Greenbuild 2012 is a Wrap! Philadelphia Here we Come!

San Francisco is among the top sustainable cities in the U.S. so it was exciting to be out there for Greenbuild this year.  The expo portion of the conference was only two days this year but from the beginning of the first day the show floor was packed with attendees who were really engaged. In fact, it was the most engaged audience I have seen since the recession began.  Hopefully, that is an indicator that the building market is returning.

NOVA speed dating

NOVA speed dating

In my travels around the show, I was surprised that I really didn’t see too many new innovations. There was nothing that stood out as a bright, new product or very innovative with the exception of the Saint-Gobain NOVA Innovation Competition.  The NOVA External Venturing division of Saint-Gobain rewards start-ups offering the most innovative solutions in the field of habitat, energy and the environment.  This was the first time the competition has taken place in the U.S. Over the last several months Saint-Gobain reviewed and selected eight finalists who would come to Greenbuild for a final interview process during the show days.  From those eight, three entrepreneurs where awarded cash prizes, however, all the contestants will have the opportunity to partner with Saint-Gobain in exploring potential joint development, licensing and other collaboration.

It was amazing the buzz that was created on the show floor by the NOVA Competition.  The final eight entrepreneurs participated in what might be referred to as a “speed dating” round.  These innovators were pitching their ideas to some of the best business leaders in our industry. It was exciting during the speed dating and a large crowd gathered for the announcement of the winners.  The top winner was Heliotrope, a developer of energy-efficient electrochromic glass that that switches reversibly between three states:  solar transparent, heat blocking, and heat and light blocking or darkened.  The second place winner was PlanGrid, a complete collaborative platform for construction information and the fastest PDF viewer in the universe.  Third place went to SmarterShade, a unique approach to the emerging technology being called “smart windows.”

Greenbuild 2013 is coming to Philadelphia – CertainTeed’s neck of the woods.  But, for Philadelphia, following San Francisco is like having the Beatles as a warm-up band.  While many folks who are into urban sustainability are aware of the great progress made my our Mayor Nutter and his team, just how far and how quickly Philadelphia has transformed its sustainable future may come as a surprise to some of our visitors next year. I’m certain that none of this would be possible without the support and efforts of groups like the Delaware Valley Green Building Council who is hosting GreenBuild for 2013. There are some very exciting projects taking place in Philadelphia and we are eager to share them with the green world.

I hope to see you in Philadelphia for Greenbuild 2013!

 

 

No Gambling In Las Vegas with Solar Roofing

Energen Display at International Builders' Show

Energen Display at International Builders' Show

Heading out to Las Vegas recently  for the International Builders’  Show (IBS), I was struck by a sense of excitement in the air.  Nothing scientific, nothing concrete, I could just feel the mood of the travelers was a bit lighter, the airport was a bit more crowded and the hotel was definitely busier than this time last year.
Thankfully, the dreary weather we experienced during our week there was not indicative of the mood of the builders who attended. 

 

When you look at the numbers, you wouldn’t necessarily think things were looking up.  Attendance was down from last year, from 60,000 a year ago to 55,000.  The number of exhibitors was down about 30 percent also.  However, our leads were up 30 percent over last year and were just shy of the number we hit in 2007. 

I have a couple of theories about why.  The NAHB made an excellent decision to shut down one of the exhibit halls and condensing the 1,100 exhibitors into two halls.  This made the traffic much denser.  However, while density gives you volume through the aisles, it doesn’t necessarily translate into leads. 

So what was it?  Solar.  It may have been raining and cold outside, but the interest and “energy” around solar and photovoltaics was definitely there.  Now, the fact that we introduced our new Energen Photovoltaic Roofing product (available this spring) at the show may have helped substantially in our lead count, however, you could see immense interest in this area.  We weren’t the only ones talking about it, but it was obvious that the crowds were drawn to what is becoming more and more of a hot-button topic in the green/sustainable movement.

It’s nice to see that manufacturers (ourselves included) aren’t shrinking and running for cover during the downturn.  When sales are down, innovate and ready yourself for the upturn; that seems to be what some in the industry are doing! 

Energy efficiency is the name of the game these days.  Look at our friends at Hearthstone Homes in Omaha, Nebraska who are focused on energy efficient home construction .  They’re doing innovative work like using 2 x 6 framing and guaranteeing energy bills to their buyers…or they pay the difference!  Builders like Hearthstone are getting serious about not only building quality, but adding real, tangible value to the homes.  We’re excited to be entering the solar frontier and proud to partner with folks like Hearthstone.

The industry’s heating up and in the end, the homeowner wins.

Mike Loughery by-lineMike Loughery is Director, Corporate Marketing Communications at CertainTeed Corporation.