With over 22,800 in attendance and more than 850 exhibitors at this year’s Green Build Expo in Chicago it was clear that this green movement is here to stay and getting some serious attention.
It was no surprise that the expo was held downtown at McCormick Place, a building that is LEED certified. As you walked into the building there were a series of signs mounted to the wall explaining what it meant for the building to be a LEED certified building. Throughout the expo there were educational stations, recycling stations and many other efforts to educate on ways to become more “green” as well as ways to participate. It was also encouraging that throughout the city there were advertisements for new lofts and condos bragging that these new residences were “green” residences.
The expo kicked off differently than most trade shows. It began in the evening with a cocktail reception. Guests arriving the first day were allowed to spend a few hours getting a sneak peak of the show before the masses showed up to stand in the registration line the next day. Some people waited over 2 hours just to get into the show! I was fortunate enough to arrive the first day. It was helpful to be able to get an overview of the exhibit with less people before the aisles became crowded. It was exciting that some booths were so crowded that I had to come back a few hours later to try to get information.
Like The Remodeling Show in Las Vegas there were exhibitors from every category of the building process. The difference here was that not only were you given the opportunity to learn about the products, but also the chance to learn about the focus of each company’s efforts to protect or preserve the environment. It was interesting to hear each company’s angle. For example, some companies were advertising that their products contained recycled content. Some companies wanted you to know about their efforts to save energy during the manufacturing process. Other companies wanted architects and designers to know how many LEED points they could receive for using their products. The companies that caught my attention the most were the ones that have been practicing “green” for decades. Now that “green” is getting so much attention and has so much value to consumers they are not changing their practices to incorporate “green”, but are simply adding these practices into their marketing.
It was also no surprise to me that the first booth that I saw front and center was from the flooring industry. If I were giving out awards like the awards given for The Remodeling Show, Shaw Industries would take the prize for the most exciting booth, the most creative exhibit, the most energetic staff and the best first impression.
Shaw used several different methods to grab your attention. Their booth’s exterior was made of huge green circular walls with different stations set up inside. One area explained the recycling process with the chemist on hand to break down each stage. Having not been a science whiz in school, I asked the chemist to explain the process in layman’s terms. In 30 seconds or less, she explained the process to me. She used the example of baking a cake to simplify the explanation of the process. So, imagine taking a baked cake and returning it to its original components- flour, eggs and sugar. This is what’s happening with carpet through Shaw’s Cradle to Cradle recycling efforts at their Evergreen Facility in Augusta, Georgia. Through innovative technology, post-consumer carpet is converted into the raw material used to make virgin nylon, which is indistinguishable from first generation material. The unique process allows for endless recycling, diverting carpet from landfills and saving valuable natural resources.
Next, Shaw used large view finders to show the logistics of the recycling process explaining how customers who used their EcoWorx commercial products close to a decade ago have contributed to its recycled content tomorrow because the products will be reused. The images in the view finders showed how products, once they are returned to Shaw, are deconstructed through a process called elutriation. The backing is then returned to the manufacturing process to be made into more EcoWorx. The EcoWorx recycling facility can recycle 1.8 million square yards of carpet per year.
Another station outlined their carpet collection centers. Shaw is actively building the largest carpet reclamation network in the country!! Currently, they have a collection center within 50 miles of 40% of the population and are expanding weekly! Shaw is collecting 100 million pounds of post-consumer carpet waste to supply their Evergreen Nylon Recycling Facility which diverts waste from landfills while reducing the amount of raw materials used in their manufacturing process. They even make it easy to participate. All you have to do is flip over any commercial carpet tile with EcoWorx backing, call the toll free number printed on the back and Shaw will reclaim the material and transport it to their manufacturing facility in Georgia to be made into new EcoWorx!
Shaw’s Cradle to Cradle certification evaluates building and interior products for their human health, environmental and life cycle attributes. Architects and Designers can earn an Innovation in Design point within the LEED Green Building Rating System for using Cradle to Cradle certified products found in EcoWorx tile, EcoWorx Performance Broadloom, Eco Solution Q nylon and Anso nylon. All of Shaw’s carpets are Green Label and Green Label Plus Certified. CRI (Carpet and Rug Institute) Green Label or Green Label Plus Certification ensures that a carpet meets stringent requirements for low chemical emissions and contributes to good indoor air quality.
Shaw’s efforts begin with the design process, carry on through the recycling process, remain strong through the reclamation process, but they don’t stop there. Did you know that carpet waste can be used to generate electricity? Shaw’s waste to energy facility is the only one of its kind in the carpet industry. Through an innovative gasification process, carpet and wood flour waste replaces oil usa
ge in the flooring manufacturing process. This process diverts 22,000 tons of waste from landfills and reduces oil usage by 90% at their dyeing facility.
Wait, there’s more. Shaw operates the 15th largest transportation fleet in the nation. They use biodiesel fuel to run their trucks because it burns cleaner than petroleum based diesel creating less carbon dioxide emissions; it is less toxic than table salt and biodegrades as quickly as sugar. It is produced in the USA from renewable resources such as soybeans which decreases our dependence on foreign oil while contributing to our own economy. Each year, Shaw uses 46,800 gallons of pure biodiesel fuel. Shaw’s participation in the SmartWay Partnership (a voluntary collaboration between the US EPA and the freight industry designed to increase energy efficiency while significantly reducing greenhouse gasses and air pollution) will help eliminate millions of tons of emissions per year – the equivalent of taking up to 12 million cars off the road. As a bonus, instead of returning to Georgia with empty trucks after making carpet deliveries, Shaw picks up used carpet from the collection centers!
Shaw doesn’t stop there, they even go to the extent of providing inter office recycling for its 31,000 employees in case recycling is not available where they live.
If you are an architect, designer or builder interested in Shaw’s products that can help you earn LEED points or looking for a faster more straight forward way to specify LEED certified products, Shaw offers a LEED calculator on-line that provides accurate information outlining the environmental attributes of the products as well as their contribution to the USGBC LEED Rating System. You can review and compare products and print, download or email LEED Specification Sheets.
Stay tuned for more from the Green Build Expo 2007!