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10 Finalists in Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Challenge Show What’s Next in Green Building

Finalist Ecococon's modular building system is made from 99.4% rapidly renewable and mostly locally sourced materials (straw and wood). | Image credit: Ecococon

Products from ten companies have been selected as finalists for the Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Product Innovation Challenge, sponsored by the Schmidt Family Foundation and the Dutch Postcode Lottery. Three winners will be selected from this group and will share a cash prize of $250,000.

The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, in partnership with Make It Right, launched its first-ever Product Innovation Challenge in November 2012. By June, over 100 products had been entered for consideration.

The Challenge: Create a building product that is safe, healthy, affordable, effective and designed to be returned safely to nature or industry after use.

“We are delighted at the response to the challenge and the quality of the submissions,” said Bridgett Luther, president of the Institute. “These innovations embody shared values of practical sustainability and entrepreneurship.”

From insulation grown from fungi, to roofing made from waste limestone and recycled plastic, to bricks grown by living organisms, the finalists are showing what’s next in the green building scene. The ten finalists represent alternatives to a range of traditional building products, including insulation, paint, drywall, siding, roofing, bricks, and construction panels.

The finalists include:

  • Ecovative — Mushroom Insulation
  • Bellwether Materials — Softbatts Sheep’s Wool Insulation
  • ROMA — EcoDomus Mineral Paints
  • StormWall Industries — StormWall panels
  • GR GreenBuilding Products — GR Green Roofing and Siding
  • bioMASON — Biobrick
  • Ecococon — Straw Panels
  • HaploBuilt — HaploBlocks
  • ECOR — Universal Construction Panels
  • Dutch Design Initiative — Reinforced Wood Wool Cement Board

More information on each of the finalists can be found here.  

To win the Challenge, products must emulate the criteria of the C2C CertifiedCM Product Standard: material health, material reutilization, renewable energy & carbon management, water stewardship and social fairness.

Winning products must also be accessible for the affordable housing market, where health impacts from conventional building materials are rising at an alarming rate.

Taylor Royle of Make it Right explains the significance of the Innovation Challenge for the future of affordable, green homes: “At Make It Right, we are trying to revolutionize the affordable home industry. We believe that well-designed, sustainable, Cradle to Cradle-inspired homes can be built for the same price as conventional homes. If this is true, we have no excuse to build any other way. We are constantly looking for new products that would make our homes more sustainable, more affordable or, ideally, both.”

Winners will be announced November 15, 2013 at the Institute’s Innovation Celebration in New York City. The event will recognize leaders in product design and innovation for their efforts to create better products for our world using the C2C CertifiedCM program principles. Some of the biggest brands in the world will be honored along with stories of emerging technologies and a look into the future of sustainable design. 

The Challenge is made possible with the generous support of the Schmidt Family Foundation and the Dutch Postcode Lottery.

During his plenary presentation at the SB '13 conference in June, designer, author and C2C Product Innovation Institute founder William McDonough announced a new partnership between McDonough Innovation and Waste Management, Inc. The Waste Management McDonough Sustainable Innovation Collaborative will directly serve producers, manufacturers, retailers and suppliers of packaged goods and products as they strive to advance their sustainability objectives and results. Product and packaging design for recyclability as well as careful consideration of ecological and human health will be among the collaborative's goals.


Jennifer Elks is Managing Editor at Sustainable Brands. She is a writer, editor and foodie who is passionate about improving food systems, closing loops and creating more livable cities. She loves cooking, wine, cooking with wine, correcting spelling errors in… [Read more about Jennifer Elks]