Until recently, per Construction Specifications Institute Division 10260 (PVC/Aluminum Products), PVC was the material of choice for wall protection items, such as:

• Corner guards

• Wall guards

• Handrail/bumper guards

• Sheet materials

Though PVC products off-gas minimally due to the fact that they are rigid, thus contain no plasticizers (for flexibility) which do off-gas (i.e. plastic wire sheathing, hoses, etc.), they can have some negative environmental impacts. Some chemical additives in the manufacture of PVC products may be problematic. For example, the potential for leaching when landfilled and/or dioxin formation when burned must be considered. Also, there can be technical challenges and cost issues concerning PVC recycling.

Gift from the Heartland

Muskego, Wis.-based InPro Corp. is leading the wall protection industry into the brave new world of environmentally sustainable design and construction with the introduction in 2003 of its EnviroGT line of wall protection products. Since 1998, InPro has been using post-consumer industrial plastics in their products winning their reprocessing program a nomination in 2004 for the Wisconsin Friend of the Environment award. Better yet, its EnviroGT line of wall protection products won a place on the coveted Top 10 list of green building products for 2003 from the well-respected "GreenSpec Directory," published by BuildingGreen Inc., publishers of Environmental Building News monthly newsletter.

InPro is a manufacturer of architectural products including the following divisions:

• InPro IPC: Door & Wall Protection Systems

• InPro Clickeze: Privacy Systems

• InPro Jointmaster: Architectural Joint Systems

• InPro Signscape: Signage

& Way-Finding

The latter division, Signscape, offers a line color coordinated with InPro IPC Door/Wall Protection Systems. At the heart of InPro's green initiative is the use of 100 percent post-industrial recycled High Density Polyethylene and Forest Stewardship Council certified wood. Model G5000 Wall Guard has no exposed ash-wood while model G5100 does. Corner guards, such as Model G160, are made from 100-percent HDPE. Presently, the EnviroGT line is the only family of wall protection products not utilizing PVC. By using 100-percent post-industrial recycled HDPE in lieu of PVC and by using certified wood, credit under the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED green building rating/certification program is available under:

• Materials & Resources Credit 4: Recycled Content

• Materials & Resources Credit 7: Certified Wood

Square deal

As an incentive for switching to its line of environmentally friendly wall protection products, InPro operates a PVC recycling program offering credit-upon return of old PVC products-towards the purchase of new materials. Exceeding the standards set by the State of California (which are the most stringent in the U.S.), all adhesives used in producing the EnviroGT line have low or zero VOCs. Providing social, environmental and economic benefits, InPro's environmental practices include:

• Recycling in all its operations

• Preventing pollution at the source

• Responsible disposal of materials

• Responsibly use and conserve energy

• Responsible use of raw materials

The company's NuTree line of wall/corner guards and sheet material contain +90-percent recycled HDPE. Exceeding the USGBC/LEED standard for aluminum products recycled content (50 percent), InPro's aluminum products typically contain an average of +/- 80-percent recycled content, as do its stainless steel products.

A tree GROWS ... in the forest!

Mentioned in previous columns, the Forest Stewardship Council promotes socially beneficial, environmentally sound and economically viable management of the planet's forest resources. International in scope, the FSC's activities and certification process provides strong incentives to the timber industry to maintain and comply with long-term management plans providing benefits to society. These incentives prevent exploitation of forest resources while ensuring profitability to foresters. In this way, the earth's forests maintain their productivity, biodiversity and ecological processes.

When tested under ASTM F476-84, Para. 18: "Impact Test," the durability of HDPE as a substitute for PVC is quite revealing. Conforming to the National Fire Protection Association criteria for a Class B fire rating and compliant with ADID and ANSI requirements, the impact test results revealed a 20 percent increase in impact resistance vs. PVC/aluminum as compared with InPro's own line of traditional PVC/aluminum wall protection products. Available in 54 standard colors (coordinated with interior finishes) and combined with the warmth of wood, the resiliency of plastic and the aerodynamic look of stainless steel, the EnviroGT line is easy on the eyes. InPro's leadership has been recognized by the Design Journal with its "Award for Design Excellence."

Follow the leader

Following InPro's lead in the greening of the wall protection industry, the CS Group (manufacturer of the Acrovyn line of wall protection products) has recently introduced PVC-Free Acrovyn 3000. Maintaining the same Class 1 fire-rating (UL classified), integral colors, design/profiles and impact resistance as traditional Acrovyn, this new line is free from dioxin formers, phthalates and brominated and/or halogenated fire retardants in its patented formulation. Hospitals and health care facilities are one of the prime markets for wall protection products. Releasing phthalates and dioxins over their long life cycle, many health care facilities concerned about their patient's health have removed PVC from the indoor environment and switched to PVC-free products. Acrovyn 3000 is 100 percent recyclable and is available for wall and door coverings and on the new Acrovyn Door System.