29 August 2008

Sierra Club to help build green homes for injured vets

The Sierra Club is partnering with Homes for Our Troops to include eco-friendly materials and processes when making new houses for severely injured vets. The partnership includes a grant from the Sierra Club Foundation of up to $1 million over the next three years. According to a press release,
The grant will be used to explore new technologies and products designed with environmental and energy conservation concerns in mind, include a higher degree of green building into its homes, and fully participate in the Energy Star Program and the LEED Program that was recently established by the US Green Building Council. These energy efficient homes will provide long-term economic and environmental benefits to these veterans and their families.

28 August 2008

New green tile site launched

Italian tile maker GranitiFiandre has launched a new Legacy of Green Web site to tout its efforts on behalf of the environment.

KCMA opens certification to cabinet suppliers

The Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association has announced that it will now allow non-cabinet-manufacturers to be certified under its Environmental Stewardship Program. The program, in operation since 2006, will allow companies that supply product to cabinet makers to join the program and be certified. According to the association press release,
In order to become ESP certified, cabinet manufacturers and suppliers must meet requirements in the categories of air quality, product resource management, process resource management, environmental stewardship and community relations. This holistic approach to environmental certification examines the manufacturing process from the raw materials supplied all the way to the end product, versus other certification programs that only look at the product.

Green Depot opens new store in New York

Green Depot is opening a new location today, Aug. 28, out on the northeastern tip of Long Island (pictured above). With the currently under-construction store in Manhattan (due for completion this fall), that makes a total of six locations for the green home channel dealer to be open by the end of the year, up from four at the end of last year. A seventh location is planned for Albany, N.Y., in 2009.

The new unit, in Greenport, N.Y., features a showroom and design center. The opening ceremonies are being celebrated with festivities including local wine, hors d’ouvres, and a prize gift basket.

27 August 2008

Party platforms built of eco-friendly materials

While we're on the topic of politics, I thought I would follow up yesterday's post on political conventions with a couple links on where the candidates stand.

The Boston Globe asks if there will be A green gold rush under Obama? The Democratic candidate himself has this and this to say. Not too much on the green retailing front, but this position was interesting:

Weatherize One Million Homes Annually: Obama will make a national commitment to weatherize at least one million low-income homes each year for the next decade, which can reduce energy usage across the economy and help moderate energy prices for all.

That might be a retailing opportunity for whoever sells those weatherizing products.

Meanwhile, John McCain is also getting the word out on the environment. Here's an article on his policy, and here is the official word from his campaign site. Nothing directly relevant to green retailing or construction, I would say, although the Republican's emphasis on "market solutions" suggests a very business-friendly orientation.

I also saw this article on Joe Biden's environmental record, and as soon as McCain picks a veep candidate, I'll see what I can dig up on him or her.

26 August 2008

Throwing a green party. Or two.

The Democratic National Convention started yesterday, and it's a green party that the Dems are throwing, if not the Green Party. That is, organizers of the event are working hard to minimize the environmental impact of the convention, using solar power, carbon offsets, a biofuel bus fleet, and even an Official Recycling Provider (Coke is it, actually). For a wrap-up, check out this report from Plenty, as well as the official convention green page.

But don't feel left out, red-staters! Turns out the Republicans are tree-huggers, too! Here's a letter at the Republican National Convention site that mentions the convention's green efforts (scroll down) -- also note this GOP press release and this news report from the Tennessee Journalist.

25 August 2008

News reports suggest green building is gaining steam

From across the country, green builders are being quoted in news reports. Here are a few that leapt out at me while Web surfing today ...

Lone Star used to get one or two calls a month from consumers interested in building green homes. Now, it's a few calls a week. (paraphrase) John Brooks, owner, Lone Star Custom Homes, Central Indiana.

More and more home builders, suppliers and contractors are building green in Southwestern Illinois. The member-driven Home Builders Association of Greater Southwest Illinois held its sixth program on green building since February 2007 to talk about how and why to build green. ... Since the Home Builders Association of Southwest Illinois' first green building program, attended by only two industry people, 100 industry insiders showed up July 30 ... "I build green because of my kids," said speaker Matt Belcher, owner of Belcher Homes, Custom Sustainable Homebuilding, based in Wildwood, Mo.

"People say that you've got to have geothermal and solar energy," said Court Airhart, president of Airhart Construction, which is building homes priced from $500,000 to $1 million in the western suburbs of Chicago.

"Everyone wants to be green today. Green practices are being introduced into every aspect of life. It's what people want, it's what the planet needs, and building manufacturers and builders are responding," said Brian Harlan, Harlan Corp., Eastern Pennsylvania.

"There's just so much growing in the green market. It's a growth area for our members, and it's our future," said Bob Filka, chief executive, Michigan Association of Home Builders.

Also emblematic of the trend: articles on How to sell your house as green and How to avoid eco-fatigue.

22 August 2008

Energy-efficient appliances are selling better than traditional models

I got a press release from the NPD Group. They track sales trend data for a wide range of products, and they share info with us at Home Channel News on a pretty regular basis. This press release was on energy-efficient appliances, sales for which are doing quite well these days. I can't link to the data, which is not online, but let me quote from the press release.
Refrigerators: From April to June 2008, sales of Energy Star refrigerators increased 15 percent in dollars and 13 percent in units, versus one year ago. This is compared to the 11 percent declines non-Energy Star rated models are showing. Average selling prices of Energy Star refrigerators models have been more than double the price of regular models, but have leveled off in the last two years.

Washing Machines: Unit sales of Energy Star washing machines grew 3 percent, whereas, non-energy efficient models have declined by 12 percent in April-June 2008, compared to the same time last year. While energy efficient models garner a bigger dollar share (55%) than less efficient models, they only represent 40 percent of units sold.

Let me say that again: Green fridges, up 15 percent; non-green, down 11 percent. Green washers, up 3 percent; non-green, down 12 percent. That is impressive.

NPD didn't give me the Energy Star vs non-Energy Star comparisons for dishwashers and air conditioners, but they say that the former are up 5 percent and the latter are up a whopping 50 percent!

Thanks to NPD's Dora Brunette for help with the data.

21 August 2008

Whirlpool boasts its first two Certified Green Professionals

The appliance maker has announced that senior account managers Lanny Tillery and Richie Heumann are the first in the company to earn Certified Green Professional designations from the National Association of Home Builders.“They represent the first of many Whirlpool Corporation sales professionals who are working closely with the building industry to help set the pace for sustainable construction,” said Whirlpool senior contract marketing manager Tracy Frye, in a press release.

20 August 2008

Emery-Waterhouse announces green initiatives

The building materials and hardlines distributor says that it is pushing a number of programs to save energy, cut costs, and decrease the damage it does to the environment. To save fuel, Emery-Waterhouse is reducing the top speed of its trucks from from 69 mph to 65 mph, checking tire pressure twice a day, and using software to make its routes as efficient as possible. According to a press release, "as a result of these initiatives, the company estimates it will save more than 23,000 gallons of fuel in 2008."

Also part of the company's plan: a green task force to identify areas for improvement, an expanded recycling program, and adding more green products and merchandising programs.

Based in Portland, Maine, Emery-Waterhouse reported annual wholesale sales of $142 million in 2007, placing the company 68th on Home Channel News' Top 150 Distributors Scoreboard.

18 August 2008

Kitchen remodelers: A glass half empty or half green?

The Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence (RICKI) surveys 600 homeowners who remodeled their kitchens in the past 12 months. For the 2008 survey (they run it every two years), the organization asked this interesting question:
Q: Which of the following statements best describes your decisions about your kitchen remodeling purchases?
  • I only purchased products I felt did not have a negative impact on the environment. -- 10%
  • I strongly considered environmental impact on my purchases. -- 36%
  • Other considerations were more pressing this time than the environmental impact of my purchases. -- 54%
RICKI spun the results this way: "Environmental Impact of Products Not Top Priority for Most Kitchen Remodelers." I had to laugh. If you told me that 46 percent of homeowners refused to buy products that harm the environment, or felt strongly about the eco-impact of their purchases, I'd consider that an amazingly high percent! That's a huge market of people to sell, and if you, the retailer or vendor, can make 46 percent of customers give you a second glance because of your green or energy efficient products, then that's a real leg up on the competition.

I wish RICKI had asked that two years ago; seeing how those numbers change over time would be pretty interesting. Anyway, for more info, there's a bit more online, on this page detailing all RICKI's research projects, and in this brief excerpt (PDF) of the actual research report.

Concentrated cleaner in a pouch

 Sure, you can make a "green cleaner" out of organic "natural" ingredients. But what about the plastic waste that results from packaging your cleaner in spray bottles by the thousands? American Consumer Products has an answer -- sell your green cleaner in concentrated form in space-saving pouches. Customers can put a little cleaner in an old spray bottle, add water to fill, and voila!

ACP's new line is called "Eco-Save" (evidently not the only ones to think of using the name), and it comes in four varieties.

13 August 2008

LED lights for retailers

Lighting Science Group has announced a new line of LED lights designed for use in retail locations. The product promises all the standard eco-friendly benefits of LED lights -- energy efficiency, no mercury, the usual -- and layers in the benefit of seeing products in store "in their true colors -- without the ultraviolet light that discolors merchandise," according to the release. And as an editor who has had to print -- and color-correct -- many photos of retail store interiors, I would say that the sooner we get rid of that yucky greenish fluorescent cast, the better!

12 August 2008

Ikea invests in a sunny future

Furniture giant Ikea is investing in alternative energy products, such as solar panels, to the tune of $77 million, according to Inhabitant. But don't expect to see products in stores until 2011 or 2012.

Update: For more detail, check out this story in this blog's parent publication, Home Channel News.

11 August 2008

An outpouring of help for those suffering after floods

The recent flooding in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, hit that community pretty hard. But many people are pitching in to help the city get back on its feet.
By the way, the mold-killer product is also being sold at Cedar Rapids' Edgewood Do it Best Hardware & Rental Center. The store has sold more than 400 units, according to store co-owner Kelly Lauderdale.

08 August 2008

Sshhh! I can't hear the dishwasher!

KitchenAid has released a new line of dishwashers, the EQ Wash System. The "E" and the "Q" are for "Extra Quiet," as the company is really pushing the unit's low sound volume -- 48 decibels while operating, below that of a moderate rainstorm (60 decibels).

But the product is good for both your auditory environment and your ecological environment. "Alternating wash zones focus the washing action, using less water and energy for high performance cleaning," according to a company press release. KitchenAid also says that the dishwasher is 58 percent more efficient than Energy Star standards require, and it also has an efficiency designation from the Consortium for Energy Efficiency.

07 August 2008

Join the pod people -- the eco-pod people!

Ever wish you lived in a tree-house, like an Elf or an Ewok? Well, here's your chance! These sphere-shaped tree pods are part of a eco-friendly hotel project in which Web visitors can invest for just $30 a share; or you can own your own pod, which is kind of like a time share, in that you can stay in your pod up to 70 percent of the year -- for $2,500. It's a bargain for those of you who want to wake up each day and hug a tree before you have your cup of ecologically sustainable coffee.

Hat tip and thanks -- Inhabitant.

06 August 2008

Moen pushes array of environmental initiatives

Moen, the plumbing fixture maker, is really making a polished push to promote its environmental position. Of course, there are water-saving new products, but the PR program includes videos and a sustainability brochure.

To the company's credit, there is substance behind the glitz, too. Last month Moen joined the EPA's WaterSense program and the U.S. Green Building Council.

Full disclosure: Moen sometimes sends candies in its press releases, and I eat them. Except for the atomic fireballs; those things are nasty!

05 August 2008

Hoosiers are going green

Indiana governor Mitch Daniels has ordered that all new state buildings -- like this one -- must meet LEED energy efficiency standards where practical.

04 August 2008

Fluorescent light boasts extra reflectivity

Lamar Lighting, a fluorescent light maker, says that its new recessed fluorescent fixtures -- the Max-E series -- offers a 33 percent energy efficiency advantage. That's because Max-E is especially reflective, such that two Max-Es provide the light of three comparable fixtures.

According to a company release, "By incorporating a specialized reflector with a high reflectance painted finish and custom faceted acrylic diffuser, Max-E achieves higher light levels."

01 August 2008

New building panel features high percent of recycled content

Temple-Inland's new gypsum sheathing product -- GreenGlass Fiberglass-Faced Gypsum Sheathing -- hits all the right buttons as an eco-friendly product, according to a company release. Up to 90 percent recycled content? Check. Mold resistant? Check. Moisture resistant? Check. Fire resistant? For the thicker version, check.

According to Jim Hannan, a company spokesman, “We’re very confident about the mold and moisture resistance offered by this product, not only because of the natural resistance properties of its fiberglass facers, but because of our TemShield Mold Protection that’s engineered into its gypsum core. In fact, it scored a 10, the highest score possible in laboratory mold-resistance testing."