NKBA Report: Increased Spending on K/B Materials

The materials being utilized at the request of homeowners in kitchens and baths reveal “a tendency toward increased spending by consumers,” a newly-released report by the National Kitchen & Bath Association concludes.

According to the NKBA’s first-ever “Kitchen/Bath Industry Outlook” report, released at the 2007 K/BIS in Las Vegas, the increased use of high-end kitchen and bath products — including granite countertops, multiple sinks, solid surface vanity tops and wood cabinetry — supports the finding that kitchen and bath spending is increasing, even in the face of housing market softness, and that kitchen and bath price points are rising — a finding also reported by Kitchen & Bath Design News (April 2007).

The NKBA said that its latest consumer survey revealed that nearly 70 percent of the new and remodeled kitchens installed in the U.S. during 2006 utilized wood cabinetry, while 27 percent of the countertops used for those kitchen projects consisted of granite. In addition, the NKBA said, nearly 28 percent of the new and remodeled kitchens in 2006 had multiple sinks.

Other product-use findings:

  • Nearly 71 percent of all sinks used in new and remodeled kitchens in 2006 were double-bowl, and more than 5 percent were triple-bowl.
  • Wood vanities were used in nearly 70 percent of new and remodeled bath jobs in 2006.
  • Some 95 percent of the total bath jobs in 2006 had a new lavatory sink installed.

Green Building

USGBC Commits $1 million to Green Building Research

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) today announced that it will commit $1 million to green building research. These funds will be targeted at increasing research in areas such as energy and water security; global climate change prevention; indoor environmental quality; and passive survivability in the face of natural and man-made disasters.

“Our pledge to invest $1 million in research is a reflection of USGBC’s commitment to its vision of a sustainable built environment within a generation,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chair of USGBC.

“The industry needs to take giant steps forward in construction, renovation and operation practices if we want to see large scale improvements to health and environmental conditions in this generation,” said Fedrizzi. “Our board has identified research as a key strategy to accomplish that, and has set aside a pool of research dollars so we can act now, even while encouraging others to increase their own research commitments.”

“Research will help us advance the practice of building science,” said USGBC Board Member Vivian Loftness, of Carnegie Mellon University. “It should also track and validate as quickly as possible the profound connection between green buildings and human health and productivity. We sense this connection intuitively, and we’re beginning to have some astonishing data about fewer absences in schools, greater productivity and fewer injuries in business, even higher sales in retail environments. The kind of research we need is that which proves the business case so profoundly that an organization’s commitment to building green becomes the easiest and best operational decision they can make.”

USGBC’s commitment comes on the heels of its recently published Green Building Research Funding: An Assessment of Current Activity in the United States, which found that research related to high-performance green building practices and technologies is woefully underfunded by all sectors. Using this work as its basis, the USGBC Research Committee will publish a national green building research agenda this fall that identifies key research areas for advancing building performance and market transformation.

“Building operation consumes 40 percent of energy and 71 percent of the electricity in the U.S., and accounts for 39 percent of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions, which is directly influencing global climate change,” said USGBC’s Vice President of Research and Education Peter Templeton. “Given this impact, it’s critical that the building sector makes exponential performance improvements and research, development and deployment activities a top priority.”

Templeton said that catalyzing and disseminating fundamental and applied research is part of USGBC’s leadership role in the green building community. The new research dollars are intended to be matching commitments, putting in place a mechanism that can leverage even greater funding for priority studies. Further details about the structure of the fund and application for grant dollars are being developed and will be announced later this summer.

NAHB To Launch National Green Building Program

The board of directors of the National Association of Home Builders has approved the creation of a national green building program to provide a template for voluntary, market-driven green building all over the country.

The vote came during the NAHB Spring Board of Directors meeting in Washington, D.C. on June 10.

The new program will be based on the National Green Building Standard, a model for residential construction and renovation written by builders, architects, environmentalists and product experts that will be released in early 2008.

This standard is the result of a cooperative effort between NAHB and the International Code Council and is based on NAHB’s Model Green Home Building Guidelines, which are the foundation of more than 20 green building programs created by state and local home builder associations throughout the country.

“With a national program, home buyers can be assured that their home is truly green, whether they live in Seattle or Savannah, in a condo or a ranch house, and whether they’re renovating or buying new,” said NAHB President Brian Catalde, a home builder from El Segundo, Calif.

“It’s also the next logical step for NAHB as a leader in the green building movement. Our members have built nearly 100,000 green homes in voluntary programs launched by home building associations all over the country. Each of these homes is unique and responds to local geography, climate and consumer preferences. With an affordable national program, we will provide home buyers with green homes even where there is no local program in place,” Catalde said.

Like the Model Green Home Building Guidelines and the Standard, the National Green Building Program takes into account a home’s lot development, use of resources, energy and water efficiency, indoor environmental quality, durability and ease of maintenance, as well as the builder’s efforts to educate home owners.

The program will be housed at the NAHB Research Center, which is also serving as the secretariat for the residential green building standard development process. The standards process is certified by the American National Standards Institute, for which the Research Center is an accredited developer.

The National Green Building Program will include an interactive, web-based certification system as well as other tools and resources for builders and certifiers, and a national registry of green builders and green homes. Existing local programs that meet quality assurance benchmarks and performance criteria can become part of the national program — without costly additional certification fees.

“When it comes to residential building and remodeling, NAHB members are leading the way to creating a new, green-built nation,” Catalde said. “With the resources and expertise of the NAHB Research Center, our new national program will help accelerate that process.”

Kitchens & Baths

Cabinet and Vanity Sales

Sales of kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities declined again in May as the nation’s housing market continued its year-long slump, the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association said last month.

According to the Reston, Va.-based KCMA, manufacturers participating in the association’s monthly “Trend of Business” survey reported that overall cabinet sales fell 10.6 percent in May compared to the same month in 2006. Sales of stock cabinets declined 19.6 percent for the month, while semi-custom cabinet sales fell 1.8 percent and custom cabinet sales posted a modest 1.1 percent gain.

Year-to-date sales through the first five months of 2007 were down 13.2 percent from the January-May time period of 2006, the KCMA reported.