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BuildingGreen, Inc. (www.BuildingGreen.com) is an independent company committed to providing accurate, unbiased, and timely information designed to help building-industry professionals and policy makers improve the environmental performance, and reduce the adverse impacts, of buildings. We offer both print and electronic resources to help you design and build construction projects from a whole-systems perspective and take an integrated design approach that minimizes ecological impact and maximizes economic performance. We are the publishers of Environmental Building News.

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Light-Emitting Diodes: Chasing White Light
September 11, 2007 12:16 PM - Courtesy of, BuildingGreen

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) use semi-conducting materials to turn electricity into light; electrons jump from one material to another, emitting photons as they travel. Different semiconductor materials create different colors of light: most white LEDs use indium gallium nitride (InGaN), which actually emits blue light. The blue light excites a phosphor coating on the lens of the diode, creating a yellow light that mixes with the blue and makes it look white to the human eye. Manufacturers also use closely placed red, green, and blue LEDs to deliver white light.

New Product: Fencing Made From Ag Fiber And Recycled Plastic
September 8, 2007 06:46 PM - Mark Piepkorn, BuildingGreen

Torrington, Wyoming - Heartland BioComposites, of Torrington, Wyoming, has commercialized a new breed of composite wood using annually renewable wheat straw rather than wood flour, and has introduced its first product, a privacy fence. The company purchases regional wheat straw and compounds it with post-consumer high-density polyethylene (HDPE). The raw materials, which include 50–60% straw, 35–45% plastic, and less than 5% proprietary additives (described by the company as “non-hazardous and organic”), are mixed, heated, extruded, and cut to length.

How They Work: Ground-Source Heat Pumps, Tapping the Earth's Mass
September 8, 2007 06:41 PM - Courtesy of, BuildingGreen

Ground-source heat pumps (GSHPs), often called “geothermal heat pumps,” exploit the relatively stable temperatures found just 5 feet (1.5 m) or more below the surface, either depositing or extracting low-intensity heat. Heat pumps—whether ground-source or air-source—are basically air conditioners that can be run in reverse to provide heating as well as cooling. Air conditioners (and refrigerators) make a relatively cool place cooler by extracting heat from it and releasing the heat in a warmer place. The key to this magic is the refrigerant, a fluid that changes from a liquid to a gas at ambient temperatures. After absorbing heat, the gas moves through a mechanical compressor that squeezes the heat back out, not unlike squeezing water out of a sponge.

Philips Introduces Lower Mercury Fluorescent Lamps
September 8, 2007 06:35 PM - , BuildingGreen

Philips Lighting Company has announced a new line of T-8 fluorescent lamps using the company’s Alto II technology to replace its ten-year-old Alto technology.

Long Island Town Requires LEED Certification
September 8, 2007 06:30 PM - , BuildingGreen

Babylon, NY - Developers and builders in Babylon, New York, are preparing to register their buildings for LEED certification to comply with a 2006 local law that goes into effect in December 2007. The law requires all new commercial buildings larger than 4,000 ft2 (400 m2) to achieve at least a LEED Certified rating.

Newer Fluorescents Have Less Mercury, But Recycling Continues to Lag
September 7, 2007 04:44 PM - Allyson Wendt, BuildingGreen

When Philips Lighting Company first introduced its Alto technology in 1995, the average amount of mercury in a four-foot (1.2 m) T-8 Alto fluorescent lamp was 14 mg. By encapsulating the mercury and creating a chemical barrier coating to prevent absorption of the mercury by the phosphor coating, Philips was able to lower the amount of mercury in its Alto lamps to 3.5 milligrams (mg). In 2007, Philips introduced the Alto II line with 1.7 mg of mercury per four-foot lamp (see Philips Introduces Lower Mercury Fluorescent Lamp).

FEMA Investigates Emergency Housing Air Quality
September 7, 2007 04:20 PM - Jessica Boehland , BuildingGreen

Washington - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced in August 2007 that it had suspended the installation, sale, transfer, and donation of emergency-housing trailers until concerns over high levels of formaldehyde can be investigated. A common ingredient in pressed-wood products, including particleboard, formaldehyde can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation; wheezing and coughing; fatigue; skin rashes; headaches; nosebleeds; and severe allergic reactions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers formaldehyde a probable human carcinogen, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer calls it a known human carcinogen.

Seattle Grocery Store Earns LEED Gold
September 7, 2007 04:11 PM - , BuildingGreen

Redmond Washington - The Redmond, Washington, branch of Seattle-based PCC Natural Markets became the first grocery store to achieve a Gold certification in any of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating systems. The store, certified under LEED for Commercial Interiors, features 28 skylights that bring daylight into the store and reduce general lighting electricity use to an anticipated 0.21 watts/ft2 (2.25 W/m2), an 86% reduction compared with a base case building in minimal compliance with Washington State code requirements; electricity use for accent lighting is expected to be 37% lower than code.

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