14189 Fri, 04/04/2008 - 2:19pm
By Nathan Weber
CHICAGO–Green is the theme at this year’s Kitchen/Bath Industry Show here, with workshops, round-table discussions and promotions by exhibitors stressing the importance of sustainability in the industry.
K/BIS is scheduled for April 11 to 13 at McCormick Place.
“Green is a very timely topic this year,” said Sara Ann Busby, who heads a design firm carrying her name and is this year’s president of the National Kitchen & Bath Association. “In our industry now, we have a chance to make a difference. We have the opportunity and responsibility to educate our members to the great solutions” of environmental degradation.
Some of those solutions, she added, were simple, such as using Energy Star-rated appliances, dual flush toilets and low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint.
Among the workshops at the show will be one called Implementing Sustainability, focusing on ecological approaches to kitchen and bath design. On the weekend, round-table discussions will address the functionality and finances of sustainable design; designing outdoor spaces; and deciding how “green” is green.
Vendors as well are advertising their ecological credentials. Sonia, a Valencia, Spain-based vendor of bath fixtures, for example, “assures products are made in a way that decreases the use of natural resources (water, energy and fuel),” the company said in a press statement. They “avoid hazardous chemical products … and go to great measures to release low amounts of VOCs into the atmosphere.”
Alno, a manufacturer of kitchen systems based in Pfullendorf, Germany, says that all its materials are “toxic-free, renewable and meet all EU standards.” It adds that all the waste and cuttings derived in its manufacturing processes are either recycled or used to heat the factory.
Kichler Lighting is introducing a line of energy-efficient, LED under-cabinet illumination for the kitchen.
Electrolux is promoting its PureAdvantage water and air filtration systems, which is designed to circulate air.
These vendors are among more than a thousand introducing product lines to the throngs of retailers and interior designers flocking to the show. While exact figures are not available, registration was reportedly running neck and neck with last year’s tally, according to Walter Sperr, a spokesman.
Asked if he was surprised at the show’s appeal this year, in light of the national housing and credit morass, and impending recession, Sperr pointed to a recent study of 20,000 households by the NKBA. It found that while the economic downturn is certainly affecting the industry, and is likely to take a heavier toll in 2008, there are geographic pockets around the country where home renovation is expected to increase.
The study noted that a dip in home prices can even act “as a spur to kitchen and bath remodeling,” both for sellers as a way to improve the marketability of their homes, and for owners “staying put” to enhance their personal living.
Highlights of this year’s show, in addition to the emphasis on green products and processes, include a set of workshops on kitchen and bath makeovers, and integrating architecture into kitchen design.
In addition, a workshop will focus on the mental health of corporate executives, to teach managers “the art of disciplined focus and positive mental rehearsal.”
Other topics include new technology, international influences on urban design, surviving the current housing market and the future of the luxury market.