Mechanical, plumbing products make green Top 10

Boston — BuildingGreen LLC, publisher of the GreenSpec Directory and Environmental Building News, announced the 2008 Top 10 Green Building Products. The seventh annual award was announced at the U.S. Green Building Council's GreenBuild Conference here.

Boston — BuildingGreen LLC, publisher of the GreenSpec Directory and Environmental Building News, announced the 2008 Top 10 Green Building Products. The seventh annual award was announced at the U.S. Green Building Council's GreenBuild Conference here.

“Our selections of the Top 10 Green Building Products represent a wide range of product types in many different application areas,” noted BuildingGreen president Alex Wilson.

Three of the products this year save energy, including a low-cost, solar water heating system; a combination heating, water heating and heat recovery ventilation system; and a system for monitoring real-time energy (and water) use in buildings. A line of rainwater storage tanks saves water.

BuildingGreen's Top 10 product selections, as in previous years, are drawn from new additions to the company's GreenSpec product directory. More than 200 product listings have been added to the GreenSpec database during the past year.

“New products seem to be appearing all the time, making it a challenge for our staff to keep up,” said Wilson. The GreenSpec database the company maintains now includes more than 2,000 product listings.

A big driver in the development of green products continues to be the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Rating System, which awards points for the use of certain product types, such as certified wood, or for the energy or water savings that green products can achieve.

The 2008 Top 10 Green Building Products are:

  • Matrix Total Home System from NTI

  • SunCache solar water heating system from Harpiris Energy

  • Rainwater H2OG storage tanks

  • Agilewaves Resource Monitor

  • Safe ‘N Sound Emerald doors from Masonite

  • FSC-certified Plyboo Pure bamboo flooring from Smith & Fong

  • Natura Paint from Benjamin Moore

  • Integrity Block

  • PolyWhey Floor Finish from Vermont Natural Coatings

  • Ecotextiles Natural-Fiber Fabrics

New York Thermal's Matrix is an integrated appliance that combines a gas-fired condensing boiler and furnace, condensing demand water heater, and heat-recovery ventilator into a single unit, and it is pre-configured for air conditioning. According to NTI, the Matrix's advanced heat exchanger is capable of reducing gas consumption by 30% compared with a conventional system, providing an AFUE of 94 for forced air and 92.7 for hydronic heating, and an energy factor of 0.85 for water heating. The Matrix can deliver 5-GPM of domestic hot water per minute at 110°F without a tank or standby energy loss.

Features include a variable-speed, electronically commutated motor; a microprocessor that adjusts heat output based on the home environment; and a sealed-combustion system that draws in outdoor air and directly vents exhaust. Compared with standard products, the efficient combustion results in less cycling, improved efficiency, and less noise, and it can be vented using conventional plastic piping. The Matrix is the first product to meet Canada's new CSA-P.10 standard for integrated mechanical systems, and it achieved a premium designation for the highest efficiency.

Additional information is available at

The SunCache integral-collector-storage solar water heater from Harpiris Energy uses a roof-mounted, water-filled, unpressurized, polyethylene panel and copper heat exchanger to pre-heat water for domestic use. Developed through research supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, the relatively inexpensive SunCache captures heat in 50-gal. of non-circulating water stored in a rooftop panel. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water from the supply line flows through the copper heat exchanger embedded in the panel, extracting heat from the stored water. The pre-heated water then flows, via PEX tubing, to either a conventional storage or tankless water heater. No pumps are used.

The acrylic glazing minimizes convective heat loss, but nighttime losses from the collector will still be significant. People using hot water in the afternoon or early evenings will see the greatest energy savings. SunCache is affordable and easy to install, making it appropriate for both professional and do-it-yourself installations. The water heater is designed for warm climates, including the Sun Belt, and is not intended for use in cold climates.

Additional information is available at

The Rainwater H2OG is a modular rainwater storage tank for use in tight spaces such as under decks, against houses, or even within walls. Two versions are available: a potable water tank made from virgin food-grade polyethylene and a non-food-grade tank made with 15% recycled content. Each module holds 50-gal. of water that can be used for gardening, irrigation, toilets, laundry, or (with the food-grade tank and after proper filtration) potable water. When installed within a building envelope, the tanks can serve as thermal storage for passive solar heating systems.

The 71-in. × 19.5-in. × 8.5-in. tanks can be installed horizontally or vertically, and they can be installed in series. They come with inlet screens, elbow vents, and outlet valves; tanks and components are designed for future reuse. Rainwater H2OG is available as a stand-alone tank that is plumbed into the downspout or as part of a complete rainwater harvesting system called Rainwater Rescue, which combines the Rainwater H2OG tank with GLI Systems' RainTube roof-level water collector.

Standard colors include bronze or olive green, but other colors are available for orders of 20 or more units. Rainwater H2OG comes with a one-year guarantee. A 350-gallon H2OGzilla tank is being introduced in 2009.

Additional information is available at

GreenSpec is a leading national directory of green building products. Products are selected by editors of Environmental Building News based on criteria developed over the past 15 years. Manufacturers do not pay to be listed in GreenSpec, and neither GreenSpec nor Environmental Building News carries advertising.

“Our policy of not accepting money from manufacturers allows us to be objective in our review of products,” said Wilson.

The GreenSpec product database is also available online as part of BuildingGreen Suite. Environmental Building News, founded in 1992, is the oldest newsletter in the green building field. BuildingGreen, LLC celebrated its 23rd year in business this year. Additional information is available at