Once a novelty in the design and construction sector, environmentally responsible products and technologies are now engrained in its core. At the 21st-annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, which runs Oct. 22 to 24 in New Orleans, architects, designers, manufacturers, and other industry leaders will gather to discuss green-design strategies and review the latest sustainable architecture, as well as walk the tradeshow floor to view products from more than 800 exhibitors. From smart ceiling fans to concrete masonry units made of recycled content, these products and trends represent the cutting edge of sustainable design.

Smart Technology
A micro-industry is burgeoning around the development of smart home products that learn occupants’ behavior and anticipate their needs to minimize energy consumption. Haiku, a residential ceiling fan from Lexington, Ky.–based Big Ass Solutions, is one example. Fitted with sensors to monitor motion, air temperature, and fan speed, the unit can now integrate with Nest Labs’ Learning Thermostat, helping homeowners better regulate room temperature. “The intent is that [when] you walk into the space, it feels exactly how you want it to feel, and it’s operating as efficiently as possible.” Alex Reed, the company’s director of consumer-product marketing, told ARCHITECT in August.

Healthy Ingredients
Recycled content and low-VOC materials aren’t unusual among products showcased at Greenbuild, but a growing focus on material-ingredient disclosure and transparency is putting the onus on manufacturers to verify their green claims. This year, expect to see more finishes and surfaces that employ sustainable materials—and tell you where they came from. Among them are CalStar Products’ masonry units, which use fly-ash—a byproduct of coal burning—as a cement substitute and whose manufacture uses 81% less energy than that of typical bricks. The company claims to be the first brick maker to complete an Environmental Product Declaration for its fabrication process and product. CalStar will also have new products on display this year, including this 2 1/4”–tall by 15 5/8”–long ambassador brick offered with a smooth (shown) or split face.

Better Barriers
Growing awareness around the cost of energy consumption as well as the prevalence of increasingly stringent energy codes and standards are encouraging the development of high-performance envelope products that can better meet architects’ design requirements. Kingspan's Benchmark division will expand its engineered façade system with the addition of a ceramic granite cladding option (shown) on its Karrier Panel and will launch Kreate, an alternative to multi-component rainscreens, in the U.S. The latter, a single-component panelized aluminum façade system, can be specified in custom colors, sizes, and configurations. Its polyisocyanurate insulation core has no CFCs or HCFCs and offers thermal performance of approximately R-44 for a 174mm-thick panel that has a 150mm-thick core.