Earthen Flooring and Plant-Based Insulation Win 1st and 2nd Place in $15,000 Red List Design Challenge

Oregon BEST and the International Living Future Institute have announced the first- and second-place winners of their inaugural Oregon BEST Red List Design Challenge, which awards $15,000 in cash and ongoing support to developers of non-toxic building products with the potential to launch new Oregon companies.

The winners were announced on Sept. 12, 3013 at Oregon BEST FEST, the regional cleantech innovation conference that brings together university researchers, entrepreneurs and business leaders to foster collaborations that result in clean technology solutions for environmental challenges.

The $10,000 first-place award went to Sukita Reay Crimmel (pictured, above) of Claylin, LLC for her Ready-Mix Earthen Flooring, which is made from a blend of Oregon clay soil, sand, pigment and chopped straw that is hand-troweled smooth and sealed with a blend of beeswax and oils. The product competes with traditional flooring options like hardwood, carpeting and concrete (many of which contain toxic materials) on performance, pricing and longevity. By packaging this all-natural and readily available building material in easy-to-mix portions, Reay Crimmel seeks to reintroduce a practical, healthy alternative to traditional flooring options.

Zander Eckblad, UOZander Eckblad, an undergraduate student in the University of Oregon's Product Design Program, won the $5,000 second-place award for a non-toxic, plant-based cellulose nano fiber (CNF) insulation that has the potential to be three times as effective as fiberglass insulation at one-eighth of the cost. Commonly known as wood pulp, CNFs are a concentration of nano fibers from the cellulose cell structures of green plants. An aerogel process then gives the fibers a solid, styrofoam-like form that is a highly efficient insulator due to its nano particle nature, creating resistance from both conduction and convection heat transfer.

"This competition has been a great opportunity to model interesting thinking about some very sticky problems," said one of the competition's judges, Mary Davidge of Google. "In the course of the competition, the finalists had time to address one key problem well...and there’s still more to solve."

A unique aspect of the Red List Design Challenge is that the winners are given ongoing technical support and business mentorship as the products move toward commercialization.

"We look forward to working closely with these winning product developers to speed their innovative products to the growing sustainable built environment marketplace," said Johanna Brickman, Director of Collaborative Innovation at Oregon BEST. "It's wonderful to see people respond so ceatively to a call to develop nontoxic building materials that have real potential to reduce toxins in the built environment."

The Oregon BEST Red List Design Challenge, hosted by both Oregon BEST and the International Living Future Institute, aims to inspire teams to design original, non-toxic and ecologicaly sound building products that meet the demands of the Living Building ChallengeTM and use the rich natural resources of the state of Oregon.

Judges for the Challenge were:

  • Amanda Sturgeon, FAIA, Architect and Living Building Challenge Program Director
  • Johanna Brickman, Director of Collaborative Innovation at Oregon BEST
  • Mary Davidge, Consultant at Mary Davidge Associates
  • Jason McLennan, CEO at the International Living Future Institute

Media Contacts: Johanna Brickman, jo.brickman@oregonbest.org, Oregon BEST, 503.725.9849; Amanda Sturgeon, amanda.sturgeon@living-future.org, (206) 223-2028 x.24

About the International Living Future Institute:
The International Living Future Institute is an environmental NGO committed to catalyzing the transformation toward communities that are socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative. The Institute is premised on the belief that providing a compelling vision for the future is a fundamental requirement for reconciling humanity’s relationship with the natural world. The Institute operates the Living Building Challenge, the built environment’s most rigorous performance standard, and houses the Cascadia Green Building Council and Ecotone Publishing. The Living Building Challenge is the 2012 winner of the Buckminster Fuller Prize.

About the Oregon BEST:
Oregon BEST (the Oregon Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies Center) is the nexus for clean technology innovation, building capability, convening collaborations, and accelerating solutions to environmental challenges that deliver prosperity in all corners of Oregon. Oregon BEST brings together Oregon’s significant R&D strengths in clean technology to support the commercialization of new products and services. Since establishment in 2007, Oregon BEST’s 210-plus Member Faculty have generated more than $83 million in research revenue from federal, industry and foundation sources to Oregon. At its four partner universities (Oregon Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, Portland State University, and University of Oregon), Oregon BEST has established a network of seven shared-user research facilities. Oregon BEST Commercialization Grants are awarded to collaborations between entrepreneurs and Oregon BEST member faculty at partner universities. The first four Commercialization Grant awardees from 2011 have secured more than $1.5 million in follow-on funding, more than six times the total grant amount awarded.