I survived my first visit to the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Chicago last week, and it was an eye-opening experience to say the least.
The overall attitude among the exhibitors and presents was surprisingly positive, given the state of the building industry today. Yet the green segment shows remarkable resiliency in both commercial and residential markets. I think smart companies are positioning themselves to be ready when the residential building market makes a rebound.
Among the dozens of the 1,800 booths I visited, a common thread was making green products affordable and easy to implement for the average home builder, remodeler and consumer.
Here are a few thoughts on some of the cool products I saw:
Windspire vertical axis wind turbine: Uses airfoils mounted vertically to generate electricity. The 30-ft. tower takes advantage of wind from any direction and is said to be much quieter than a standard horizontal-axis turbine.
Rheem Integrated Heating & Water Heating System: Combines home and water heating in one system using tankless water heating technology. Hot water circulates from the water heater through a hydronic air handler to heat the house and then back to the 94 percent-efficient tankless water heater. The whole system operates efficiently and cuts installation costs because only one gas line is required.
Rainwater Pillow: Store harvested rainwater in this military grade bladder and filtration system for potable and non-potable uses. Standard models range from 1,000 gallons to 2,000 gallons; custom sizes are available as well. Save water costs on landscaping and other outdoor uses.
Flushmate: Sloan offers its Flushmate pressure-assist system for residential toilets to a variety of manufacturers. The Flushmate IV system harnesses pressure from the water supply line to complete the flush with less than one gallon of water, compared to 1.6 gallons for most standard toilets.
Verve Living Systems: Lighting and other controls for residential and commercial applications using wireless, batteryless remotes. The system cuts installation time and materials because contractors don’t have to install wiring for wall switches. Save money with motion sensors that turn off lights when no one’s in the rom. Applications are ideal for ICF, SIP, log homes and other types of construction with complicated wall structures. Look for retrofit applications in 2011.
We’ll be looking at these and other technologies in the near future to help you build a green home you can be proud of.
What green home technology would you like to know more about? Just let us know.
Gary Wollenhaupt is an experienced writer and editor, with a background as a daily newspaper reporter as well as corporate and agency public relations and marketing. He is constantly looking for affordable green upgrades to make to his home in eastern Kentucky.