February 2011

A walkable roof tile made of PV glass, a roof-garden stone made of 100% postconsumer content, and a pollution-fighting roof tile, are a few of the new solutions in this month’s roundup.

By Rita Catinella Orrell

The photocatalytic properties of titanium dioxide allow the manufacturers of building products such as paints, cements, windows, and ceramic tiles to offer customers a “self-cleaning” benefit that is claimed to substantially reduce concentrations of airborne pollutants such as VOCs and nitrogen oxides. The latest entry into this category is a new concrete roof tile from Boral Roofing Company’s MonierLifetile division, known simply as Smog-Eating Tile.

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“This is ‘normal’ concrete roof tile,” explains Bob Pacelli, Boral Roofing’s marketing communications manager. “Its only difference is that it has a surface made from purely inorganic minerals that reduces the formation of smog and does not promote organic growth.” Although the technology was first developed in Japan, the roof tile is claimed to be the first of its kind in the United States. The tile contains a specially prepared catalyst embedded in the upper part of the tile body; when exposed to sunlight, the catalyst speeds up the oxidation process, resulting in reduced pollution.

“The titanium dioxide is applied as a coating on the surface of the tile’s micro-mortar, which makes it less porous than a conventional color-through tile,” says Pacelli. This gives the tile the added benefit of being mold- and algae-resistant. The technology, marketed as BoralPure, is available on the manufacturer’s high- and medium-profile and flat tiles in 11 colors.

Currently, the product is manufactured in Boral Roofing’s California and Nevada manufacturing plants, but there are plans to expand production into the manufacturer’s eastern plants throughout 2011, enabling the tiles to be shipped nationwide.

Smog-Eating Tile is featured on five “green” prototype homes by builder KB Home for its Alamosa community in West Lancaster, California, the first of which debuted at an event last July. KB Home collaborated with the City of Lancaster and the Chinese green-tech company BYD, which provided the homes’ solar, battery, and LED systems.

“We are inspired by innovation and constantly seek out new technologies that reduce our homeowners’ overall impact on the natural environment and improve their quality of life,” says Craig LeMessurier, KB Home’s director of corporate communications. “The benefits of Boral’s smog-neutralizing tiles are quite dramatic, and we view this product as a revolutionary way to fight air pollution.” While some design professionals may need more time to warm up to the new technology, the company has convincing numbers that demonstrate the roof tile’s potential for reducing pollution.

“Over a period of a year, 2,000 square feet of the tile can destroy approximately the same amount of nitrogen oxide as the average car produces driving 10,800 miles,” says Pacelli, “making this product one real way builders and owners can reduce the smog footprint and the diseases directly attributed to it.”

MonierLifetile, a Boral Roofing Company, is based in Irvine, California. CIRCLE 200

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