Archive for December, 2008

Santa brought me Cool Glass

I found a sample from CoveringsEtc on my desk.  This is one of the coolest products from GreenBuild that I haven’t written about yet.  I thought it was one of the most captivating displays and video.  The product is called BioGlass. The pictures barely capture the feeling of this great product.  Everyone that has come by my desk touches it and loves the material.100_2987

Bio-GlassTMsolid surfacing for countertops, walls, floors, and other applications is made from 100% recycled glass, heated and
agglomerated under pressure. There are no binders, colorants, fillers, or other admixtures.  Depending on color, the product is either pre or post-consumer, or a blend. The translucent, nonporous material is available as 110-inch by 47-inch slabs, about 4.7 inches thick with a lightly textured, slip-resistant surface; smooth surfaced slabs are also available, approximately 4 inches thick. The product is currently available in white and light green, with blue, brown, and dark green to follow.  This product will contribute to LEED Credit – MR Credit 4 – Recycled Content. 

It is made from only recycled colored glass.  Most products that reuse the recycled glass also use an epoxy to bind the glass.  This product is different.

The old glass is sorted by color and re-fired to just the right temperature and pressure.  The end result is stunning.  The ground polished edge revels the evoking layers of each piece’s former life.  The top is nicely surfaced, the brown glass reminds me of a leather texture, those are from beer bottle.  The green is from red wine bottles and so on.

The cost ranges from $85 – $125 per sf.  This is not cheap but comparable to a nice marble.  So instead of ripping a slab of marble from the earth consider this product for a stunning covering.


The Sustainable Christmas Tree

studio-treeWhen the intraoffice challenge came down this year to decorate our studio the creative juices got going.  One of the architects in our studio had these leftover fabric samples and one idea led to another and before you knew it we had a sustainable Christmas tree.  The structure was constructed out of fishing line and secured to a piece of foam core that was diverted from the trash.  The fabric samples where then clipped on the fishing line to create the form.  A little shredded paper for the ring o’ snow and we were done.

misfitIn other studios they were busy making toys, land of the misfit toys to be exact.  There seems to be equal time for coke and pepsi on this flight. Other studios were recycling decorations of years past for festive redos.  Overall the entire department kept sustainability and creativity in mind for the Holidays.

fresca-treeOne other honorable mention outside of the workplace is this creative 16 foot high Christmas Tree made out of 900 Fresca bottles.  I failed miserably at drive by night photography.  But this is a cool reuse of empty drink bottles.  The whole tree is lit from underneath with one big spot light that shines up through the green plastic, creating a nice grinchlike glow.   If you are in the oak grove area of Roanoke drive down Bridle Lane for a glimpse.


Flying Toilets

ftOccasionally two worlds will collide around me and I try to take notice and learn how one relates to another.  To quote the great Ron Thomason of Dry Branch Fire Squad, “I told you that to tell you this.” 

So here is the that, one of the sessions I attended at GreenBuild was concerning sustainably in developing countries.  (see GreenBuild – Catch Up)  From that session, the idea of flying toilets keeps banging around in my brain.  The concept is so unimaginably detestable for someone who has never been faced with such living conditions.  This puts the term “roughing it” in a whole other category.

Let me define the term for you just in case you have never heard it before.  A Flying Toilet is the act of flinging a tied up plastic bag of excrement as far as one can fling such a thing in order to get it as far away from your living quarters.   The lack of efficient and modern sanitation is an everyday reality for some developing countries.  Some countries have even gone so far to try to rectify the situation by making the possession of plastic bags illegal.  Enter the country of Rwanda and those baggies will all be confiscated at the airport.

Now for the this, last week there was a story in the news about the cholera and how it was killing so many in Zimbabwe.  The water systems are not able to handle the disease and it is spreading. The poor sanitation and seasonal rains are at the root of the cholera outbreak.  What passes for a toilet in these areas can be as few as 1 for every 250 people.  This is real and now.  The solution to build more toilets is slow. 

I have to say that I don’t fully understand the complete situation but to me the reality that these people face everyday is unthinkable.  I don’t have an answer or a happy ending for this problem but just wanted to educate readers about this tremendous problem.  As an architect I feel it is partly a duty to improve on the human condition, wherever that may be.  Perhaps this will be an obstacle for you ponder during the next long line for the bathroom you find yourself in.