Green Party

The Baltimore Sun

LAS VEGAS - If the economy cast a certain glumness across the enormous trade show floor at the recent International Builders Show here, one bright spot - make that a thousand bright spots - was the pervasiveness of any and all things green.

Recycling and energy-conservation pitches amounted to a marketing steamroller at the trade show, where a sea of building-products manufacturers' booths pushed their latest offerings for the 60,000-some builders in attendance.

From soy-based building insulation to draft-busting windows, the "green" mantle was everywhere. The home-building industry says it has gotten the message.

"Buyers are more aware of what's happening in the environment, and that's going to drive consumer preferences," said John Thatch, an architect from Pleasanton, Calif., who participated in a presentation on consumer trends at the show.

Among the hundreds of seminars for attendees at the four-day show, dozens had environmentally oriented themes, with such titles as "Green Is Gold," and "Build Green and Save: Protecting the Earth and Your Bottom Line." Here are some of the products from the show that might find their way to your home in the coming months.

Iron redux

Cast iron: Durable? Yes. Glitzy? Not exactly. But Kohler Co. gives it a shot with its Indio kitchen sink, which, in addition to having clean, modern lines, has a faucet mount on the rim of the sink itself, because many consumers blanch at the prospect of drilling holes into their pricey granite countertops, according to company spokesman Mark Mahoney.

The green angle here is the cast iron underneath its enamel surface: It contains 93 percent recycled and reclaimed materials.

Cost: $580 from Kohler Co., 444 Highland Drive, Kohler, Wis., 800-456-4537,

Waste not

If bamboo flooring is just so last-century for you, consider mulberry. Green Choice Flooring International, based in Holland, Mich., reuses mulberry bushes in China, Thailand and India that are part of the silk-manufacturing process. "Silkworms eat the leaves, which renders the mulberry bush so that it won't bloom again," said company spokesman Steve Vander Weide, who said the spent bushes then are refined and compressed into composite flooring; he claims the resulting surface is two to three times harder than red oak.

Cost: $4 to $7 per square foot from Green Choice Flooring International, 6227 136th Ave., Holland, Mich., 866-915-1120, greenchoice

A side of bark

Barkclad Natural Products may have created the ultimate woodsy look for those channeling their inner lumberjack. The company strips the bark from tulip poplar trees that have been felled for furniture production and turns it into exterior shingles and architectural accents. They can be used indoors to cover whole walls, for wainscoting or for cabinet fronts.

In addition to producing Timberclad Bark Siding in large sheets, the company also sells Bark-N-Box, a container of 30 square feet of smaller sheets for use in moldings, picture frames, crafts, etc.

Cost: $5 to $6 per square foot from Barkclad Natural Products, 217 Bethel Drive, Canton, N.C., 877-648-2275,

The bamboo bowl

Bamboo flooring has been practically deified in some environmental quarters for its relatively easy renewability, compared with hardwoods. And it has crept right off the floor and into the rest of the house. Totally Bamboo, a firm in San Marcos, Calif., advertised its "socially conscious sink" for the bath, made from bamboo and sealed for a maintenance-free finish.

Cost: $499 from Totally Bamboo Inc., 1810 Diamond St., San Marcos, Calif., 760-471-6600,

Mashed glass

What glass manufacturers can't use, Crossville Inc. can. The tile manufacturer has created Echo glass tiles with 10 percent to 100 percent recycled content, made from what otherwise would have been the wasted byproduct of glass manufacturing. (The variation in recycled content depends on which of Echo's 15 colors are used, explains company spokeswoman Karen Gustafson.) The tiles, which can be used on walls, floors and countertops, come in five sizes and three finishes (clear, iridescent and matte).

The tiles are manufactured in Ottawa, Ill., in the former Peltier Glass Co. facility, which in the 19th century made glass marbles and glass for Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Cost: $31 per square foot from Crossville Inc., P.O. Box 1168, Crossville, Tenn., 931-484-2110, cross

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