Green Products

Buy America

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Using old things to make new things is great; this reduces the amount of material that will end up in a landfill.  Then landfills can become something beautiful, like a golf course or a park.  I do applaud entrepreneurs who come up with ideas and ways to reuse our garbage.  Fireclay is a good example.  They are a company in California that is taking old TV’s, toilets, windows and solar panels and recycling them into building materials.  They are also committed to design and sustainability.  Their products are made in the United States, which meets the “Buy America” requirements in most government procurements.  These products also fit nicely in our palette of materials for our transportation projects.  There are issues though…the first problem is that the product is very expensive.  The second problem is that there is only one company making this product, and government procurements generally prohibit “sole sourcing” in order to promote competition.  The third problem is the largest, when it comes to sustainability.  While the materials are made locally and the waste from the products are used and rainwater is captured, I wondered about the process of reclaiming the materials.  I asked myself “what type of energy is being used to fire the kilns?”  Is it non-carbon, renewable energy?  That would be great.  Or are the kilns fired by fossil fuels?  After a live chat I found out that the kilns are fired with natural gas, which means that they are using non-renewable fossil fuels.  Unfortunately, that is in line with most of California’s current energy generation, although the state has legislation passed that requires the electricity generated from renewable resources to increase to 33% by 2020.  Upon further discussion, I was informed that Fireclay is building a new facility with a solar collector roof so that they may eventually be able to directly offset 50% of the energy use.  Fireclay seems to be on the right track.  Time will tell.

1 Comment

  1. The US Department of Transportation web site has information pertaining to Buy America. Please let me know if you still have a question. http://www.transportation.gov/highlights/buyamerica

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