Getting Their Hands DIRTTy

Founded by three Calgarians, DIRRT (Doing It Right This Time) Environmental Solutions creates custom, sustainable architecture interiors — including the implementation of recycled blue jeans as insulation.

The company opened for business in 2005 and since then has grown to include manufacturing facilities across North America.

With the oil sands getting an “awful kicking” for their ecological footprint, self-proclaimed DIRTTbag Julie Pithers said building construction also eats up energy.

“It’s our buildings worldwide that use the most energy and take the most resources to build and run everyday,” she said. “The way we approach buildings is that if you can keep the inside dynamic and ready for the 21st Century technologies and open and flexible; and a nice, clean construction method in a short period of time; and fewer labourers, then you would have a more sustainable building that doesn’t get knocked down and doesn’t get gutted every time there’s a new tenant or a change in your own business strategy.”

As far as your old Levis’ are concerned, Pithers explained insulation was one thing the company — in the beginning — couldn’t reuse or repurpose even though they were using a “best in class” product.

“Within our factory we emphasize the environmental part of things, reduce your footprint, reduce your waste and also have the ability to reuse or repurpose,” she said. “We’ve worked really hard to divert waste, we don’t have a lot of waste but we want to divert what we do have from the landfill.”

Cue UltraTouch Denim Insulation, a product comprised of 80 per cent post-consumer recycled content made predominantly with old jeans. The company found denim insulation outperformed fiberglass in areas of acoustical properties, flame spread and off gassing as well as lacking harmful chemicals and irritants. Left over UltraTouch scraps are collected and sent away to reuse in new product.

“With the use of denim insulation, we’re moving towards a supply cycle rather than a supply chain,” said DIRTT’s Houston Peschl. “The decision to go with UltraTouch was a no brainer. Our installation guys don’t have to go home itchy every day, we don’t have to throw out scraps on a daily basis and we save money.”

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