Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Going Green in 2015

Sustainability and, more specifically, sustainable living is becoming increasingly important in the consumer and commercial sectors, and this is making a direct impact on countertop fabricators. At the very least, it should be providing food for thought about how to tap into this growing market and earn additional profit simply by giving the people what they are clamoring for.

One of the biggest problems connecting the people to the environmental products they want is a lack of organization and effort to implement environmentally sound materials and systems into residential homes and commercial businesses. However, the tides are rushing in from around the world, from Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

A quick Internet search tells the whole story on sustainable development in the United States. Statistics regarding sustainable homes and commercial development are conducted by government agencies and are readily available to the public in Europe, the United Kingdom. and New Zealand, but are largely based on volunteer organizations such as the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in the United States.

The only statistics you can easily find are from the United Nations, which reports that the United States has more voluntary initiatives for sustainable development than any other country in the world at 157. The next highest is France at 110, and after that is the United Kingdom at 89. It is quite odd that the United States has so many voluntary initiatives underway without central leadership or organization like we see in other countries.

It is my firm belief that the U.S. environmental movement is about to grow some seriously long legs, and it is going to start running. The idea of using sustainable materials in the home, and especially in the busiest room of the house - the kitchen - is already catching on in the suburbs and in the country, far away from the progressive strongholds in large cities. It looks as though it is only a matter of time before the movement hits a crucial tipping point, and the number of people looking for sustainable surfaces swells to even greater proportions.

While laminate and granite remain the most popular choices for countertops, quartz has been making strong gains, partially because it is viewed as more sustainable. However, a long list of "green" surfaces is now available, including concrete, recycled paper composite, recycled solid surface, reclaimed wood, and sustainably grown and harvested bamboo,  as well as recycled glass, tile and stone.

We are certainly taking steps to meet the growing demand for sustainable surfaces, and we would like to hear how you are doing the same. Drop us a line with your stories about green surfaces or just to say hello, and look for more soon.


Brian Jones, Editor/Content Manager

1 comment:

  1. Brian,

    I enjoyed your e-mail regarding sustainability and wanted to add a few thoughts.

    One key aspect of measuring sustainability is to do a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) to help gauge the impact of a product. This study examines where a particular product or material originates and then travels during manufacturing, how long it is in use and what happens to it at the end of its life. Sustainable Minds is an example of an organization that can help businesses perform an LCA (http://www.sustainableminds.com/).

    Another key concept is the Cradle to Cradle framework developed by William McDonough (http://www.c2ccertified.org/). This organization promotes designing for the full lifecycle. Unfortunately, many of the countertop products that are made are given a "lifetime" expected use. Meaning that the countertop will last the lifetime of a kitchen while a refrigerator may only last 15 years. However, we all know that many of the kitchens in which we are working may only last until the house is sold again, or the homeowners decide that they want another change. I have seen some kitchens remodeled that were less than two years old - all of the materials were taken out an replaced.

    Since these situations are not unusual, and many of our clients are not demanding LCAs or other sustainability measures, it is up to us (fabricators and manufacturers) to drive the message for the industry and teach our clients how to shop sustainably.


    Joe Cain
    MBA Sustainable Management
    Mio Metals/Copperworks
    975 Transport Way, Suite 1
    Petaluma, CA 94954
    888-530-7630 x202