Green Product Demand Continues to Rise, Manufacturers Say
With every indication that the trend will only get stronger, more and more consumers are seeking green products, especially those that focus on energy- and water-efficiency, according to home building industry product suppliers who participated in a Jan. 21 press conference during the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas.
Representatives from Kohler Co., Marvin Windows and Doors and Whirlpool Corp. were on hand to discuss innovations that can lower home owners’ water and energy bills and also contribute to better indoor air quality.
“The industry is being transformed,” said NAHB Research Center CEO Mike Luzier, who moderated the press conference. Even as green home builders find relative success in a struggling housing market, it won’t be long before sustainable building practices become the industry standard, he said.
NAHB is providing education and training as well as home certification services to help prepare home builders and remodelers to capitalize on this trend. NAHBGreen, the association’s green building program, is expanding every month.
Energy efficiency is still the biggest driver on the growing interest in green products, the manufacturers said, but demand is also growing for water-efficient fixtures and appliances, as well as windows and doors that contribute to improved indoor air quality.
Only 1% of the Earth’s water is available for drinking, washing and other uses — 97% is saltwater and the remainder is part of the polar ice caps, said Omer “Butch” Gaudette, director of trade relations for Whirlpool Corp. “In the near future, water efficiency will be just as important as energy efficiency is today.”
“Water efficiency is not just important in water-starved areas,” like the arid Southwest, agreed Shane Judd, senior product manager for water conservation at Kohler Co. Increasingly, metropolitan areas where water supplies can’t keep up with sharp population increases are also looking for solutions to manage water use.
Currently, there are 100 million toilets in the U.S. that consume 3.5 gallons every time they are flushed. Switching to water-efficient models would have “a tremendous impact not only on water bills, but also for water conservation,” Judd said.
Advances in technology have now allowed Marvin Windows and Doors to increase the size of its casement windows while maintaining their energy-efficient qualities. This is allowing home designs to take advantage of “daylighting” — or natural lighting — so home owners don’t need to turn on their electric lights as often, said Brett Boyum, director of marketing for the Minnesota-based company.
For Marvin and other green industry leaders, building sustainably is “a solid business practice. A sustainable product is a quality product, so a green product is a product that will last,” Boyum said.
“Consumers and builders are starting to recognize the long-term benefit of green products. If you’re not building green, you’re not building,” especially in the current downturn, Gaudette said.
For more information, e-mail Calli Schmidt at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8132.