Case Studies

Renewed Materials Inc.

Introducing ALKEMI, an innovative, green, recycled surface product

Renewed Materials Inc. (RMI) has been in business since 2005, when founder Demir Hamami established the company with the goal of providing unique recycled products for the growing green building industry. After nearly 10 years of operation, the team has pulled together ALKEMI, a distinct product line of recycled surfacing materials for use as horizontal and vertical surfacing, including countertops, tabletops, furniture, walls and backsplashes for a range of commercial and residential applications.

Based in Bethesda, Maryland, RMI is still a fairly small business. Hamami and his staff take great care in developing and marketing innovative green products as the company grows.

Hamami has a background in architectural, material, product and furniture design. Hamami’s aesthetic approach to development has guided his staff through several years of steady growth. “While most manufacturers got interested in the green market as an afterthought, RMI was founded with sustainability as its main objective,” Hamami explains. “We wanted to make alternative products of beauty, so that people were drawn to them. ALKEMI achieves this objective. Until we came along, consumer attitude toward recycled materials were mainly as an economic alternative, rather than one of aesthetics.”

Hamami wants people to be drawn to his products in a visual sense. Once people understand that it is made of recycled materials, there is an added bonus to using it. He and his crew have honed in on a small target market that will help move these products forward in the sustainable and designer construction industry. The staff has been exclusively marketing these products to design firms that virtually sell the products for them.

“The design community is always demanding innovative and attractive materials,” he explains. “That attraction is our way of getting sustainable products into the marketplace.”

Unique products

The ALKEMI line is different from anything else on the market. While similar to competing solid surface materials, such as Corian or Avonite, RMI products are very different in appearance. The line also has a significantly higher recycled material content than other brands.

“Our product is SCS-certified for containing recycled material between 84 to 97 percent, post industrial waste, content,” Hamami says. “These solutions are very beautiful and unique in appearance, which sets us apart from other manufacturers. The production methods are similar, which makes the ALKEMI line an easy fit in specifying, fabrication and installing the product. As a truly sustainable material, ALKEMI can be recycled at the end of its life cycle, although we are still working on getting certification for that purpose.”

Up until 2014, most ALKEMI products were manufactured using recycled aluminum scrap as the kRenewed Materialsey component. The company also recycles acrylic and solid surface scraps. Now, the business is introducing a new line that will substitute copper for aluminum, offering an all-new look.

“We introduced our ALKEMI copper line at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo [Greenbuild] in October,” Hamami says. “This new product contains 84 to 97 percent post-industrial waste copper, acrylic and solid surface. As par
t of the ALKEMI line, ALKEMI copper is the highest recycled content surfacing material in the world.”

With a strong and growing product line, RMI is making waves in a variety of commercial applications. The ALKEMI line has gained popularity in designs for hotels, retail stores, banks and sporting facilities, among others.

The ALKEMI line was recently installed at the US Open Tennis Pavilion. These recycled surface products have brought an aesthetic and green edge to bathrooms, kitchens, exhibits, store fixtures, conference furniture, bar tops at high-end hotels and bank teller counters. End-users include major companies, such as Intel, Whole Foods, BMW, Google, PNC Bank and BP Oil, among others.

Pushing high-design products

For the years ahead, Hamami and his team plan to continue building up the business by reaching out to a select market. “We want to grow in a controlled way,” he explains. “We are not mass-marketing our products and you cannot find them in big-box stores, such as Home Depot. We market to designers who specify our products for their projects. We directly sell our products to the contractors and builders who construct the specified work. We are really after the design element and our products are appreciated by designers and architects for their sophisticated look and sustainable values. That demographic becomes our partners in getting sustainable alternative products of beauty sold and installed. They are the ones determining specifications for projects and they are convincing their clientele of the importance of our product.”

While the support from designers and architects has been vital to the growth of the business, these clients benefit from relationships with RMI, too. As a high-end, high-design product with a limited market, these designers can utilize ALKEMI products as an aesthetic advantage. The company can show potential clients an installation that is unique and not readily available, which adds appeal to the design. This allows RMI to expand without compromising creative control over products.

Upon return, most capital goes back into developing new products and promoting such in a unique way. Hamami takes great pride in presentation and promotes products through unique sample boxes and direct communication with designers and architects alike.

Hamami looks forward every year to making new connections at trade shows and conventions, such as Greenbuild where he is able to showcase his products and participate in conversations about sustainability. “At tradeshows, I have a chance to directly communicate with customers,” Hamami says. “We receive a lot of valuable feedback on how our products are used and what the market is looking for.”

In the coming years, Hamami and his crew are looking forward to continued growth and innovation. As the business continually improves on designs and introduces new product lines, the company remains committed to a simple philosophy of balancing aesthetic qualities with environmental responsibility. Through creating attractive and sustainable recycled surface products, Renewed Materials Inc. stands among the best of green building innovators.

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