As I walked around last year’s Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas, I asked where I could find the green products. I was encouraged to put on my walking shoes and make the trek to a minor hall where I found about twenty square feet devoted to five or six products that left little impression on me. Much has changed, it seems, in only one year. Green is the buzzword at this year’s show, helped in no small part by the host city, Chicago, showing off its green-ness through LEED building projects going up within sight of the convention center. Just about every booth displayed information on how green their products were. “Green building has become the spark that has added some life to this industry,” a representative from MasterBrand Cabinets told me.
Water saving innovators Kohler and TOTO made green the focus of their booths, proudly displaying the Watersense stickers on their high efficiency toilets. TOTO, who recycles 100% of their china, has developed a universal toilet bowl whose tank can be interchanged from a 1.6 gallon per flush to a 1.28 gpf e-tank.
Countertop manufacturers like Silestone and Cambria showed off their Greenguard certification while new, funky recycled material countertops like Alkemi, with its aluminum shavings in a clear resin, or Vetrazzo, with its large chunks of recycled glass in concrete, caught my attention.
The appliance section featured the best in ENERGY STAR appliance manufacturers like ASKO, LG, and Bosch, to name a few.
The area that I was most interested in was cabinets. There were a couple of small bamboo cabinet makers (though one I discovered was simply a laminate product) as well as several major cabinet makers showing off their KCMA-ESP certification of green manufacturing practices. I spoke to many cabinet companies who continue to struggle to adapt to low formaldehyde level requirements like California’s upcoming CARB requirements, which are pushing manufacturers to lower emissions. The company that caught my eye was Executive Kitchens, who use a water-based, non-VOC stain and/or paint on all of their cabinets, and offer anything from their catalog in a formaldehyde-free plywood.
What this influx of green into KBIS means for those products that are clearly not green remains to be seen, but I couldn’t help but notice the juxtaposition of the low flow toilets only a couple of booths away from bathtubs that would require three water heaters to fill with warm water – or the showers with six showerheads sharing a booth with efficient bathroom fixtures. This only highlights that it is consumer demand that determines product offerings, so if you want green products, demand them!