The desktops in the Doyle Center were locally crafted from a composite made of sunflower hulls and other agricultural production by-products. Rather than entering the waste stream, hulls from sunflower seed production are bound with wheat and natural resins and pressed to form Dakota Burl.
The material resembles traditional burled woods (veneers made from growths on trees, called burls) in more than appearance: Dakota Burl works like real wood, too. A local furniture maker encased the desktops in Douglas fir to match the interior frame of the Doyle Center.
Photovoltaic (PV) cells are devices that convert sunlight directly into electricity. The name comes from the words photo (light) and voltaic (electricity).
The PV panels on the roof of the Doyle Center provide about 25% of the building's overall electrical energy usage. Rather than using expensive batteries to store solar energy, the system is connected to the electric grid so any unused energy can be sold back to the power company. This "net-metering" means that whenever the PV cells produce more energy than is being used in the building, our electric meter runs backwards and our electricity bill goes down.
The AVONITE that makes up the sink counters installed in the Doyle Center is considered a "zero waste" product. It is made entirely of reclaimed materials, and its manufacturing by-product (polyester powder) is sent to other companies to reuse in their products.
Through this recycling, the manufacturer prevents nearly 300,000 pounds of waste from entering landfills each year.
The environmental benefits don't stop there: Avonite saves 100,000 gallons of water each year through recycling, and destroys 95% of the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) created during the manufacturing process, preventing the off-gassing of toxic fumes.
All the "hardwood" floors in the Doyle Center are made from bamboo, which is much more environmentally friendly than real hardwood floors.
Because bamboo is a grass, it has an extensive underground root system and can be harvested in a sustainable manner every three to five years. Bamboo flooring has a higher fiber density than wood, and resists wear well. It is sandable, repairable, and even comes pre-finished!
This bamboo was grown in the Hunan Province in south-central China, where bamboo has been harvested in a sustainable manner for centuries.
Cork is a natural, sustainable product harvested from the bark of the cork oak, Quercus suber, which grows in the sunny Mediterranean.
A cork oak can be first harvested at 25 years old, when the virgin bark is carefully cut from the tree. From this point, the tree can be "stripped" of its cork every nine years for about 200 years. An 80-year-old cork tree can produce more than 500 pounds of cork!
Cork flooring is made from the byproduct of cork used for wine bottle stoppers. It is durable, fire resistant, provides thermal and acoustic insulation and is soft on the feet.
The carpeting in the Doyle Center was created from recycled fibers. And if the supplier of this carpet gets its way, all carpet will one day be created from recycled materials, and will be recycled at the end of its useful life.
Shaw Fibers, makers of the Eco Solution Q carpet in the Doyle Center, has a goal to keep carpet from ending up in the landfill. With the highest amount of recycled content available in any carpet today (25% reclaimed fiber), this carpet can be completely recycled to create more carpet fiber. It is the first step toward a "cradle to cradle" product life cycle where everything is reused.
It might look like wooden clapboard siding from the front, and medium density fiberboard from the side, but Werzalit is better than either of those products. Unlike natural wood siding, Werzalit will not warp, buckle, blister, flake or peel. And unlike the urea formaldehyde in MDF, there are no nasty toxins in this product.
Werzalit is made of hardwood particles derived primarily from timber harvested for the furniture market. It comes with a baked-on finish that will not need painting for 10-15 years.
|Acoustic Tile Fabric
Not only do the acoustic tiles serve to reduce the noise level in the Doyle Center, they are also covered in fabric made from 100% recycled materials. This particular fabric is a blend of recycled polyester, nearly half of which comes from post-consumer sources.
The manufacturer of the fabric, Maharam, offers a wide variety of textiles that are produced with a reduced environmental impact. By using natural or recycled materials, limiting the toxic Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) emitted by its products, and manufacturing in an environmentally sensitive manner, companies like Maharam can achieve environmental certification and recognition, and we can hear ourselves think without breathing VOCs.