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Wild Green

Former Utne Reader senior editor Keith Goetzman on environmental issues from climate change to composting.


Thank Katrina for Greener Building Materials

 by Keith Goetzman


Tags: building products, forest products, wood, health, formaldehyde, soy, sustainable business, Sustainable Industries, environment, Keith Goetzman,

Composite wood roomHurricane Katrina did a whole lot of damage, but at least one good thing has come out of the disaster’s aftermath: Composite-wood products are now greener and healthier.

You might recall the widely reported story about the toxic trailers used to house Katrina refugees. The Federal Emergency Management Administration was criticized for putting disaster victims into trailers that had unhealthily high levels of urea-formaldehyde and other chemicals in their composite-wood components.

Composite-wood products consequently “came under intense scrutiny,” reports Sustainable Industries (Nov.-Dec. 2010), and as a result, “Alternatives in that market are now easy to locate and often cost neutral.”

One company making such an alternative is North Carolina-based Columbia Forest Products, whose PureBond composite wood uses a soy-based adhesive. The company has sold 40 million PureBond panels, marketing director Todd Vogelsinger tells Sustainable Industries, and has capitalized on the shifting post-Katrina legal landscape:

Sustainable Industries reports on similar developments in wallboard and insulation products, which have also greened up their acts as health and environmental issues have come to the fore. And the trend seems likely to continue:

Source: Sustainable Industries 

Image by klynslis, licensed under Creative Commons.