There’s no question that the green movement just keeps snowballing. While a speaker at last fall’s Decorative Plumbing and Hardware Association conference announced, “Green is last year. Green is over. People will not pay the premium for sustainable products in this economy,” so far, it appears that the opposite is proving in many cases to be true.
In fact, when Kitchen & Bath Design News recently polled readers on the KitchenBathDesign.com Web site about demand for sustainable materials, products and services, a half of all respondents said they saw these products trending steadily upward. Another 28% reported that they saw a “considerable” trend toward green products, while only 21% said they saw no movement toward sustainability at their showrooms at all.
Equally telling is the growth in the availability of green products, as well as the increased attention being paid to green manufacturing processes and initiatives.
Likewise, government programs designed to promote green initiatives to consumers are impacting the market and the perception of green as having tangible value.
New Products, New Attitudes
So what does all this mean to the kitchen and bath design community? For most design professionals, the plethora of green products is key to driving this trend.
Chris Donaghy, principal of Lorton, VA-based The Kitchen Brokers, LLC, a firm which specializes in green design, says that product availability has turned even some nonbelievers on to green design.
“Many of our clients come specifically to us because we’re green specialists. When we encounter ‘non-green’ clients, however, it’s becoming much easier to persuade them to consider some green elements in their projects. It’s mostly due to the reduced cost of these products, which is directly attributable to their greater availability,” he says.
Some products are timeless, he notes, and can appeal to any client regardless of their stance on the project’s carbon footprint.
“This surge that bamboo has seen could turn out to be a trend, but most of the products we promote – Marmoleum, concrete countertops, etc. – have classic appeal and attractive price points that often beat out their non-green counterparts,” adds Donaghy.
The interest in sustainable products and practices could be seen at the U.S. Green Building Council’s Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Phoenix last November, which reported sell-out show floor space and, overall, beat attendance estimates for the three-day event by some 12,000 attendees.
LEED certification – the high watermark for many construction projects and the builders, architects and designers associated with the green movement – is up as well. Designations such as LEED Green Associate and LEED AP have also been added to certify green professionals.
Many companies which have opted not to display booths at other industry events have chosen to participate in Greenbuild. And, at next month’s K/BIS, a wealth of green products are slated for introduction.
Beyond that, companies are finding green projects in which to participate, such as the McLean, VA CharityWorks GreenHouse (see Showhouse Spotlight), which is touted as the first carbon neutral home on the East Coast. The brains behind that project partnered with companies like Cosentino and Karastan, manufacturers which visibly promote their products’ eco-friendly aspects.
The New American Home, the annual centerpiece of the International Builders’ Show, has been a green home for many years.
“The New American Home has been a leader in green building for years, but [the 2010] edition is built to be the most energy-efficient home in the history of this series,” says Bill Nolan, chairman of The New American Home Task Force.