Check out a few posts from around the Web this week. Enjoy!
Archive for January, 2010
While there were undertones of Haiti and the Massachusetts election on the IBS show floor, the overwhelming attitude was one of renewed optimism — something we haven’t seen at IBS for several years.
We interviewed leading manufacturers in a range of categories serving all aspects of the home to hear first-hand whether the outlook for 2010 should be categorized as positive, negative or neutral. Cautious optimism is the best way to summarize the tone from marketing command centers across the show floor.
The majority pointed to improvements in consumer attitudes and a lift in residential, while commercial will continue to lag. Others predict the positive trend for residential will come, but not until the back half of the year. Several manufacturers cited diversified customer bases as the key to navigating down markets and prevailing in 2010.
When asked about new customer demands, we confirmed our belief that homeowners are, on one hand, actively seeking value and are, on the other hand, acutely interested in energy efficiency and other proof points of sustainability that directly benefit them.
For images from the show, check out the below slideshow. Next up….KBIS!
Will wind turbines win the hearts of governments and community members any time soon?
A couple of weeks ago we shared a post on solar energy. Today we’re taking a look at another type of renewable energy – wind power. What do wind and solar power have in common? We’ll they’re two of the best options we have to reduce our dependency on oil. But their second common denominator is that they both require heavy duty most homeowners (and their neighbors) aren’t too keen on. The truth is, wind power has a lot of obstacles to overcome before it will save the day and ward off global warming.
A recent article on WashingtonPost.com examines a study released by the Energy Department on Wednesday, 1/19, and identifies the wind power theory as one that has potential. However, many obstacles need to be overcome.
1. We need a larger power grid. Without it, there’s no way to deal with a back up of energy. Our current system would leave mass quantities of wind power to waste, unable to process the power the latest, most advanced wind turbines can produce.
2. Where to put the wind turbines? On a national level, governing bodies are fighting over which regions should be used for wind power generation. On a local level, community boards and smaller governing bodies are debating whether or not wind turbines have a place in suburbia.
Earlier this week in Austin, TX a wind turbine ordinance, allowing the machinery to be set up in most city zoning districts including residential areas, failed to pass by a hair. The ordinance will be revisited for voting in February and Austin government officials are hoping some worried community members will see the turbines as a long-term solution, as opposed to an eye sore.
A similar story of citizens vetoing the benefits of turbines in their neighbors’ yards, on account of aesthetics, was recently reported in Omaha. Two concerned citizens planned to install wind turbines in their yards for power collection for personal use when their community prevented the build. Now Omaha governing officials are working to modify codes to allow for such installations.
Though turbines might not be the most beautiful structures in the suburban world, we encourage homeowners to look at images such as this one and try to envision wind turbines as a majestic source of renewable energy that are an important tool in the world’s arsenal to create something beautiful – a cleaner environment.
At Home Intel one message we’re always trying to communicate is buy green beyond the product. There are a number of companies with environmentally friendly operating practices and initiatives, and by supporting them you’re reaffirming the “green” lifestyle.
With more companies and corporate bodies adopting green and sustainable practices TriplePundit is calling on its readers to vote and help them identify the “Top Sustainable CEOs.”
TriplePundit readers nominated CEOs for the running, and TriplePundit has narrowed it down to a list of 37 names from a range of companies. Among the list are CEOs from the home and building category including Lee Scott, (former CEO) Walmart, Whole Foods, Steve Roell, Johnson Controls, Ray Anderson (Former CEO), Interface Carpet (client) and Brian Walker, Herman Miller.
Cast your vote on TriplePundit.com.
If you’re a marketer, or a conscientious citizen for that matter, chances are sustainability is a consideration everyday. So, in preparation for the year ahead, I’ve identified my top three words to live by to ensure fruitful campaigns and a sustainable future.
In the wake of Wal-Mart’s 2009 announcement about their Sustainability Product Index that will require all suppliers to disclose data about material efficiency, natural resources, energy use and employees – I am willing to bet this year, CMOs, COOs and Sustainability Officers will be hustling to identify plans to achieve full transparency. Author and Sustainability Leader, Andrew Winston said it beautifully in a Harvard Business Review article on the very subject, “let’s be clear: this kind of sustainability data collection is good for business, and it’s definitely good for Wal-Mart. And while it may seem like a total pain to suppliers, it will be good for them as well. The logic is simple: knowing your business better makes it easier to find hidden value.” Growing retailer and consumer demands for transparency have spurred new trends like full Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) and Building Information Modeling (BIM) Initiatives like these not only promise transparency, but also increased authenticity across marketing communications efforts and new product development. Deloitte published a white paper on this very subject that’s worth a read: Lifecycle Assessment: Where is it on your sustainability agenda?
Aim for Specificity:
The fear of greenwashing, the rise of the Greenwashing Index and the criticism of many big brand’s “Green” campaigns can be chalked up to one serious flaw: everyone is rallying around a word that has no true definition. We should have listened to Kermit from the start when he famously said, “It’s not easy being green.” Now that new systems for data collection are finally being put into place like LCA and BIM, environmental responsibility can be quantified – something green never had going for it. Expect to see new terms, that have data to back them up, like “cradle to cradle,” low VOC and net-zero to be on the rise this year. To help support clear, specific messaging more brands are likely to treat environmental attributes much like the food industry does with ingredient disclosure and nutrition labeling – listing everything that goes into the product and what it’s affect on the consumer will be. This is a concept SC Johnson has already began to explore – many more brands are sure to follow.
Prepare for Adaptation
According to the environmental protection agency, Global Climate Change is may result from: natural factors, such as changes in the sun’s intensity or slow changes in the Earth’s orbit around the sun; natural processes within the climate system (e.g. changes in ocean circulation); or human activities that change the atmosphere’s composition and the land surface (e.g. deforestation, reforestation, urbanization, desertification, etc.) ozone, perfluorinated carbons, and hydrofluorocarbons. No matter what’s is causing Global Climate Change, its happening – and faster than scientists first predicted. So as hard as we try to reach net-zero without having to significantly change are lifestyles, we’re realizing it’s probably not going to be good enough. Leaders like Sarah Susanka are leading the charge to adapt with her “not so big philosophy” and the economy has jumpstarted a trends from luxury to moderation – with more meals at home, smaller cars and a return to the outdoors as opposed to the manmade – Glacier National Park saw visitors increase 12% in 2009 and Yellowstone reached an all time high of 3.3 million visitors pass through the park. It’s a good thing we are beginning to adapt because the environment will begin to demand it. According to Union of Concerned Scientists, Sea level could rise by 3.5 to 34.6 inches between 1990 and 2100, making coastal groundwater saltier, endangering wetlands, and inundating valuable land and coastal communities; changes in precipitation patterns could cause increased droughts and reduced water supply across the globe; severe stress on forests for rapid and greater warming; and serious human health impacts, such as from increasing heat stress, worsening air pollution, declining water quality, and the spread of infectious diseases into regions previously free from them.
This week, the Home Intel team is heading to Las Vegas for the International Builder’s Show. Its hard to believe that its already here, but we’re excited to hit the floor and report on the latest products and trends from the industry’s top manufacturers.
Check in daily for updates from the show. We’ll be capturing highlights below and on our Twitter feed – @homeintel.
Defining the Green Language and Its Meaning
Sustainability, eco-friendly, recyclable, biodegradable, organic – these are just a few of the descriptors assigned to products whose brands are trying to market green messaging. With the many different terms and their sometimes obscure definitions, its obvious how brands and consumers alike can confuse the meanings of the numerous words that make up “Green” jargon.
We’re all guilty of it – using terms like “green” and “sustainable” as if they are interchangeable, when in fact they mean very different things. So despite our growing green knowledge and dedication to being environmentally aware, this week we decided to take a step backwards and look at the true meaning of our words and actions related to green.
We started off with the simplest breakdown of the different main components of living environmentally consciously. Visit TreeHugger.com for a look at some of the most popular terms and ways to take steps towards creating a more conscious home. In their Green Basics the folks at TreeHugger provide the background info and outline the true benefits of everything from CFLs, VOC, organic food and post-consumer materials to the more complicated issues like offshore drilling, Ethanol and vermicomposting and vermiculture.
After the basics we decided to take a look at the official labels and certifications to further define our knowledge. We visited Green Your Décor where, in this article, they define key certifications such as ENERGY STAR, EcoLogo, FSC and LEED, among others.
With this background we feel better equipped to make judgment calls on what consumer products mean when they say they are “green.” While it’s the consumers’ responsibility to understand the industry jargon, brands also have a responsibility to have that same background, and define their products “greenness” in relation to mainstream certifications and established terminology. Better yet, more brands should show their dedication and honesty about being more conscious by listing ingredients, or defining in writing, their products’ green characteristics. More and more big players like SC Johnson are doing this.
The certifications and green language is not up for interpretation and products loose their credibility as they stretch meanings of terms like sustainability, organic and recycled. Just as products loose their credibility, the words and labels also decrease in their impact and value when they are misused. This article on TriplePundit.com explains that the green vocabulary we coined from the beginning might be due for a revamp as more brands, products and organizations have joined the environmentally conscious movement. In this article GreenBiz.com points out that language has power and agrees with TriplePundit that it might be time for a terminology refresh.
It’s that time of year again, when pontificators put themselves out there to predict trends of all shapes and sizes. From weather predictions to housing starts to what breed of dog the Hollywood starlets will be carrying around this year, January is the month of prophesy.
One of the more fun predictions – mainly because no matter the outcome, this one can’t ruin our vacation plans or deplete our bank account (that last one is negotiable, I guess) – is the latest in home décor trends. Color trends top that list as the most affordable and easy to attain. And, luckily, there is no shortage of décor marketers who have blessed us with their 2010 predictions. Some are quirky, but others are really accessible, timeless and fun.
Topping the list of color trends is the latest announcement from Pantone. (Drum roll, please.)
“Pantone is pleased to announce PANTONE 15-5519 Turquoise, an inviting, luminous hue, as the Color of the Year for 2010. Combining the serene qualities of blue and the invigorating aspects of green, Turquoise inspires thoughts of soothing, tropical waters and a comforting escape from the everyday troubles of the world, while at the same time restoring our sense of wellbeing.”
Their announcement goes on to further describe their studies in color word-association and cultural research, and how people associate turquoise with compassion, healing, faith and of course, the tropics. All that aside, it’s a color that is warm, easily mixed and matched, and brings life to blander color palates. It’ll be interesting to watch how décor and fashion play off of this announcement over the coming year.
Designers and manufacturers have pinpointed a few other colors that will top the retail market in 2010, taking cues from social and economic conditions of the past year. At the risk of bringing politics into the discussion, yellow and matte goldens have been popular since First Lady Michelle Obama wore the color on Inauguration Day 2009. Expertly researched before the designer made the outfit, yellow symbolizes hope and a fresh starts. Color-watchers predict that we will see more of this trend in 2010, as consumer confidence grows and the economy rebounds.
Green will also continue to be a winner with the retail market, as the sustainability movement continues. One designer believes we’ll see moss green making more of a comeback in the upscale home magazines, replacing Kelly green and lime greens of the 2000’s decade. However, we’re warned not to tone it down far enough to consider it sage.” Apparently that was “so” 1990’s. It’s a fine line we walk, huh?
For more on color trends, especially as they relate to paint – the easiest and most affordable way to infuse color into our lives – try visiting The Paint Quality Institute.
A few weeks ago, we highlighted a recent Wall Street Journal article that talked about the concept that today’s builders are striving to build homes with zero net energy use. According to the article, “While the trend is nascent, dozens of ‘net zero’ and ‘near net zero’ developments – projects designed to use only about as much power from the public grid as they can save or product on their own – have sprung up across the U.S. over the past five years.”
This morning, we came across the idea of “Zero Energy” again, so we thought we would share what the hype is all about. According to Consumer Reports’ Buzzword series, both residential and commercial buildings account for roughly 40% of the energy used each year in the U.S. Understandably then, there is a need to make existing buildings and new construction more energy efficient. Consumer Report points out that McKinsey & Company projects that “building and appliance efficiencies in new construction could reduce total annual carbon emissions by 710 to 870 million metric tons by 2030.”
You will be hearing more about Zero energy homes from Home Intel in the coming weeks, but for more information check this article out.
Considered the premier event in the building industry, the 2010 International Builders’ Show will take place January 19-22, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nev. It is the largest annual building industry tradeshow in the country, and includes an engaging combination of education seminars, product showcases and professional networking opportunities.
This year’s show floor will feature the industry’s most important suppliers and manufacturers displaying the latest and greatest building products and services across more than 250 product categories. Here’s a sneak peak at three new products being highlighted at this year’s show. Don’t worry though, as the show approaches, you will be sure to hear more about what you can expect.
- Masco – Masco Corporation is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of brand-name consumer products for the home improvement and new home construction markets. The company plans to introduce a wide range of new products and services that are smartly crafted for today’s home building environment. The Masco exhibit is located just past registration in the Central Hall, Booth Number: C4143.
- Marvin Window and Doors – Marvin Entry Doors is going indoors with new interior doors. Interior doors have the same beauty and custom capabilities as entry doors for a complete home package. Made of solid wood, their regal beauty adds a special touch to any room of the house. Marvin will be showcasing these new doors at its booth, located at C4633 .
- Eclipse Technologies Inc. – This Canadian manufacturer, Eclipse Technologies Inc., will proudly introduce the exclusive new SOLARA® Retractable Awning unique to any currently seen in North America. SOLARA awnings are the perfect blend between fashion and function and are an integral component to maintaining a cool, comfortable environment both indoors and outdoors. Check out the new awnings at Booth # N3355.
For more info on the show, and new/featured products click here.