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Last edited 01 Feb 2021
Kevin McCloud's 'Green Heroes' 2019
|Kevin McCloud introducing his 'Green Heroes' of eco-innovative products at Grand Designs Live in May 2019.|
Kevin McCleod, design guru and front man for the Grand Designs self-build TV programme, unveiled 10 ‘Green Hero’ building products at the Grand Designs Live exhibition in London on May 9. The products are all regarded by McCloud as important and potentially game-changing, eco-innovations.
Designed by Poppy Pippin, Moss Tiles are press-moulded terracotta wall tiles designed to encourage moss growth which, by absorbing carbon dioxide, helps to improve air quality in the urban environment. “These are extremely beautiful and extremely clever”, said McCloud. The durable clay encourages the growth of algae which produces around 20% of our oxygen globally. I think they can add an extraordinary statement as cladding on the outside of buildings.”
The world's first active speaker system made of clay, Mapuguaquen from South America fuses state-of-the-art electronics and craft techniques to create customised pieces, using raw, regional and biodegradable materials. The clay, an abundant, natural material, is used as a resonator and produces “superb repro sound quality.”
Rehyphen uses the tape from old cassette tapes and weaves it into a durable and aesthetically pleasing material which can be used for a variety of items from art to fashion. This upcycling initiative aims to reduce and eliminate e-waste while giving life to an old product.
Tala lamps make a beautiful object out of an LED filament whose shape is based on the Fibonacci sequence and underscores the golden section in architecture. The LEDs produce very little heat so they are highly efficient sources of lighting. “Combining the best of British design with superior componentry, selecting methods and materials on their environmental impact, the firm remains committed to reducing carbon emissions in the atmosphere.”
Based on spruce needles, this noise-cancelling acoustic board is a natural porous material that absorbs sound reflections, regulates humidity and temperature, while creating a comfortable and healthy atmosphere. The individuality of the material is seen in the preservation of the original shape of the needles, which create a natural texture and a feeling of wood in the interior, as well as being highly decorative. “Eco-friendly and beautiful”, added McCloud “with a lot less polyester resin and petrochemical ingredients, and more natural resins such as hemp oil”.
 Air-Ink – the first ink made entirely out of air pollution
“This is my favourite product of all and literally made from thin air,” enthused McCloud. “It is the first ink made entirely out of air pollution.” The pollution collected by KAALINK undergoes various proprietary processes to make the end product safe to use. Then, the carbon is taken through a chemical process to make different types of inks and paints that are used by artists and printing companies.
“For me, this is one of the coolest things here,” said McCloud, “enabling affordable eco-structures made from plant-based material.” Using hemp within the structure of a building is carbon negative, due to the carbon dioxide within the hemp plant being locked away for the life of the building. Corrugated hemp in a building is good for insulation, cost and better for the planet.
 Environmentally sustainable carpets – Vlisco Recycled Carpet Studio
This range of high quality, ‘environmentally supportable’ carpets by Simone Post uses leftover and rejected textiles from Netherlands-based textile manufacturer, Vlisco. “Whereas the destruction of the leftover and rejected textiles is time consuming and costly, recycling is environmentally sustainable and also offers a challenging platform for innovation.”
 EcoBirdy – sustainable 100% recycled plastic furniture
Antwerp-based brand Ecobirdy has used recycled plastic toys to create a colourful range of children’s furniture that perfectly expresses its origins and manufacture. All the pieces from its debut collection are completely recyclable. “This is a truly sustainable ecological product that tells its own story,” said McCloud.
 HyO Cup – disposable biodegradable cups, dried gourds grown inside 3D-printed moulds
These vegetable cups could become a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional plastic cups. Squash is a fast-growing plant that bears sturdy fruit every season, and once dried, the outer skin and inner fibres of the gourds become watertight. Designs studio Cream continues a centuries-old tradition of using gourds for vessels, to create compostable cups using custom 3D-printed moulds.
 A final note
Summing up his Green Heroes philosophy, Kevin McCloud commented:
“Every product should have a narrative, so you know where the materials come from. The manual energy, the love and effort that goes into a product ought to be explicit – and the same should be true of the homes we buy.”
“Brand is a very important thing which comprises a set of stories around products and services. But it does not mean anything unless the stories it tells are true, real and involve people, place and sustainability. Then brand becomes really important.” McCloud added: “We need to be consistent and – as journalists – we need to be consistent in demanding every time we feature a product to understand what and where it is from and what its story might be.”
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