When a group of kitchen and bath dealers and designers were asked by KBDN earlier this year about the impact that the green movement was having on their businesses, the answers largely varied by region.
On the coasts, knowledge of available environmentally sensitive and sustainable products was plentiful and the subject was one of immediate importance. In the middle of the country, the reports were less conclusive. Dealers reported having an incomplete knowledge of what was available to them and, with few clients requesting green design, they had little reason to learn.
David Johnston of What’s Working, Inc., a Boulder, CO-based environmental consulting firm, says, “The kitchen and bath industry is really the last frontier in green building.” Indeed, the abundance of green products at this year’s K/BIS – from energy and water efficient appliances to low-Volatile Organic Compound-emitting cabinetry – goes to show that with a little initiative and sense of environmental urgency, kitchen and bath dealers can make the switch without sacrificing quality or the bottom line.
But education is key. If dealers and designers better understand just what harm a high VOC-emitting product can do to clients in the long run, they will be more likely to suggest a low-VOC alternative and will be able to provide a thorough explanation of the benefits of such a choice.
In no field is this knowledge more vital than in water purification and air ventilation. What is more elemental, more basic than the water we drink and the air we breathe? Yet so little attention is paid to the contents of the stylish accoutrements designers are specifying in high-end kitchens. With the EPA reporting that 40% of homeowners are allergic to elements in their own homes, it is more important than ever for a builder, designer or architect to open up an honest dialogue with clients about the chemical elements that their remodel or renovation project might unexpectedly bring into their house.
Recently, many people have noticed a sudden surge of reports noting a “back to the tap” movement, a backlash against the environmental dangers that plastic bottles can pose if they are not properly recycled.
So how do you get your eight daily glasses of water and avoid sending an estimated one million plastic bottles into the landfill per hour at the same time? It looks like it’s back to good old American tap water. Cheaper than buying “purified,” “filtered,” “spring” or “artesian” waters from a supermarket, and arguably better for the environment, tap water itself has gotten a bad rap for mostly aesthetic reasons, namely the taste.
But maybe that’s not a solely aesthetic concern. The bottom line is that water isn’t supposed to have a taste. If your water tastes like something, that can only lead to one assumption, which is that there’s something in your water that you’re tasting. Not always a happy prospect, when you consider the dozens of contaminants listed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Website as present, in amounts that vary by state, city and town, in the national water supply.
Instead, consider specifying a home filtration system for health-conscious clients to eliminate potential biological irritants, carcinogens or trace amounts of pesticides that end up in municipal water supplies – and can end up in the human
body. This will also make the water taste better.
Dave Lenio, director of North American consumer markets for Everpure, maker of under-counter filtration systems, says, “Water filters will be the next garbage disposal, the next dishwasher.”
The hidden downside of the water bottle craze is that it casts a negative impression on tap water as being unsafe altogether.