News Flash: Customers actually are willing to pay more for formaldehyde-free and FSC-certified products

In light of the recent controversy surrounding formaldehyde emissions in laminated flooring products

Architizer A+ Awards

Now in its third year, The Architizer A+Awards are the definitive global architectural award venue,

Noodle Theory

I had lunch with a friend at one of my favorite noodle houses in Oakland yesterday: Noodle Theory. I


Rainbow Grocery

November 26, 2014 in Bamboo Flooring, Plywood and Veneer, Sustainability

photo 1My family and I love Rainbow Grocery here in San Francisco. Rainbow has been a source of information on healthy eating for us for more then a decade. As soon as we are in the door, my daughter races to the cheese sampling in the far back by the vegetable section, with me in fast pursuit as my wife settles in to the spice section for a long review of their offerings.

To my great pleasure I have discovered that Rainbow Grocery has, in turn, been a Plyboo fan for some years. I first noticed our mutual appreciation society with the application of PlybooSquared end-grain bamboo plywood for seating and tabletops near the Folsom Street entrance. Soon after that, our Havana PlybooStrand plywood popped up in casework at the cosmetics section. This year Rainbow owners redesigned their spice, coffee and bulk foods section, using Plyboo Chocolate bamboo plywood for casework and shelving. As noted, the spice section has always captivated and inspired my wife, and I now get to say it tastes a little better, housed in bamboo.

photo 4Rainbow is a place of discovery on a many levels and having noticed the construction at the front entrance, I took a moment to wander over and see what was manifesting there. Looking to my right I noticed a hidden garden, an oasis by the elevated freeway, with an “open” sign hanging from the verdant fence. I ventured in to take a look and discovered a portable cafe wedged into this small slice of Mission District real estate.

As I got closer I found more Plyboo plywood in use for surface treatments in both the interior and exterior. It looks like this portable cafe and Plyboo have found another place to dwell under the Rainbow.

I ordered two cappuccinos and a hot chocolate and went back to find my family.

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Smith & Fong and Plyboo at Earth Island Institute and the David Brower Center

October 31, 2014 in Social equity, Sustainability

Located just across the bay from us in Berkeley, the Earth Island Institute is a non-profit environmental group that was founded in 1982 by David Brower. EII supports activism around environmental issues through fiscal sponsorship and provides the administrative and organizational infrastructure for individual projects. As stated on the EII website:

“Earth Island Institute was fashioned to encourage people to be bold, a temple for all the people doing good.”

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EII’s John Knox (right) with Smith & Fong founder Dan Smith

We couldn’t have described it better ourselves, and it is with no small pride that Smith & Fong has been a supporter of EII and its Brower Youth Awards for the past few years. EII’s executive director, John Knox, is a friend of ours, and the organization was founded on the tenets of sustainability and social equity that Smith & Fong holds in high regard.

When the David Brower Center, a LEED Platinum building that houses a number of environmental organizations— including Earth Island Institute, Friends of the Earth (also founded by David Brower), Citizen Engagement Lab, Equity Community Builders and many other truly worthy organizations — opened in 2009, Smith+Fong

was deeply pleased to be part of the architectural interiors. Plyboo is prominently featured in the 180-seat Goldman Theater, home to great public speaking events, performances and film series. Plyboo is also found throughout the lobby area as well as the kitchen cabinetry at the Earth Island Institute offices.

The Brower Center also highlighted the work of many talented artists, including Sebastião Salgado, Daniel McCormick, David Liittschwager, Laura Cunningham, Isabella Kirkland, Chris Jordan, David Maisel, Jeffrey Long, Bill Curtsinger, Joseph Holmes, and more recently, Richard Misrach and Douglas Gayeton. The work of all of these artists shares a common thread–a commitment to shedding light on natural places, environmental or social issues.

photo 2Additionally, since 2000, Earth Island has presented the Brower Youth Awards to six young environmental leaders each year, all of whom are making strides in the environmental movement. Brower Youth Award winners demonstrate excellence in leadership as well as a commitment to the communities their work serves.

Smith & Fong remains a proud supporter of the efforts of these young environmental advocates.

Smith & Fong, the Green Sports Alliance, and Levi’s Stadium

September 18, 2014 in Bamboo Flooring

Smith & Fong donated three Linear Line 4 (LL4) bamboo plywood panels for the construction of the main stage at the 2014 Green Sports Alliance Summit, held in Santa Clara, CA this July. This year’s Summit was the organization’s largest to date, with more than 650 professional sports industry leaders in attendance. From the GSA website:

“The Green Sports Alliance is a non-profit organization with a mission to help sports teams, venues and leagues enhance their environmental performance. Alliance members represent over 230 sports teams and venues from 20 different sports leagues. Since February of 2010, the Alliance has brought together venue operators, sports team executives and environmental scientists to exchange information about better practices and develop solutions to their environmental challenges that are cost-competitive and innovative. The information gathered from this collaboration is available to Alliance members in order that they gain a better understanding of how sporting events can be performed in an environmentally sensitive manner. The Green Sports Alliance was conceived and founded by Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc. and the Natural Resources Defense Council.”

The Summit included a tour of the new Santa Clara Levi’s Stadium, home to the 49ers and the nation’s first LEED Gold-certified football stadium. Smith & Fong’s Plyboo SoyBond products are found throughout the VIP skyboxes in the groundbreaking new event center.

The $1.2 billion stadium is 1.85 million square feet, seats approximately 68,500 and features 165 luxury suites and 8,500 club seats. Designed by HNTB and built by Turner/Devcon for the Santa Clara Stadium Authority, Levi’s Stadium takes advantage of the Silicon Valley climate and is predominantly open and airy, while also environmentally friendly. One of the most unique features of the facility is the green roof atop the suite tower on the west side of the stadium. The three solar bridges, connecting the main parking area to the stadium, include hundreds of solar panels.

New environmental transparency listings/certifications for Smith & Fong’s Plyboo products

September 11, 2014 in Bamboo Flooring

This year we achieved Healthy Product Declarations (HPD) and Pharos Project listings for all of our standard, soy-based bamboo flooring and plywood products.

EBNAccording to a recent article written by Environmental Building News’ Erin Weaver, “The Health Product Declaration (HPD) Open Standard Version 1 is available to manufacturers as a standardized format for disclosure of product contents, emissions, and health information to help designers, specifiers, and building owners and occupants make informed purchasing decisions. The HPD is meant to increase transparency and reduce redundant disclosure demands by referencing existing hazard lists and providing a human health context for information disclosed in an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) and other documents (see “The Product Transparency Movement: Peeking Behind the Corporate Veil,” EBN Jan. 2012). It is included as a compliance option for the Building Product Disclosure and Optimization: Material Ingredients credit in the current public comment draft of the forthcoming LEED v4 rating system.”

The Pharos Project, created and administered by Washington, DC-based Healthy Building Network, “is a campaign for transparency in the building materials market…the ultimate campaign tool…for users to locate the best materials to meet their current needs and enduring values; a tool to help cut through the prolific greenwashing; a space where users can discuss what makes a product truly green; and, most importantly, a platform from which to show manufacturers what constitutes a market in support of the best environmental, health and social equity practices.

These designations are not only important in helping us achieve specification in some very high-profile and important green building projects; they also help support our ongoing pursuit of absolute environmental health and social equity.

Declare expands into China…with Smith & Fong’s Plyboo products  

September 4, 2014 in Declare Certification

The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) has expanded the Living Building Challenge (LBC) and Declare into China this year, and Smith & Fong is one of the first eight manufacturers with Declare-labeled products in the China marketplace. According to the ILFI website:

“The Institute is pleased to announce there are now 8 manufacturers with Declare labeled products in China, 6 of them translated to Mandarin Chinese. 3 more have been submitted to the Institute for review and will be ready to be launched in the upcoming weeks.

“Given the incredible pace of development in China and the magnitude of mounting environmental damage, there is nowhere on earth where the potential for change is greater and the need more pressing.

“The past few months have seen a dramatic uptake in the growth of the LBC program in China. Last October the Institute led a weeklong workshop in Hawaii with the world’s third largest construction company, China State Construction Engineering Corporation. Subsequently two projects have registered in pursuit of the Challenge in China: The Natural Resource Defense Council Office in Beijing, and Glumac’s Shanghai office and are both on track to complete construction this summer.”

Read the rest of the post here.

The above-mentioned NRDC project in Beijing, which is seeking Living Building Challenge certification, specified Smith & Fong’s Declare-certified PlybooPure flooring and plywood. We’re very proud to be part of the LBC/Declare global expansion.