‘All About Sustainability’

By Matthew Marin, Associate EditorDuring the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Greenbuild International Conference and Expo last November in Chicago, Mayor Richard Daley pledged to help make the Windy City the most environmentally friendly city in the world. One of his initiatives was to foster the retrofit of multifamily properties with more eco-friendly products, according to Sarah Busby, president of the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). Busby observes a growing trend of multifamily developers and owners incorporating sustainable products into their properties nationwide, especially in the kitchen.From recycled countertops to energy-efficient appliances, “green” kitchen products are becoming more accepted in one of the most commonly used spaces in multi-housing. “It’s all about sustainability,” Busby says. “One of the biggest trends that we’re also seeing is a push for getting products that can lower utility bills.” Energy Star-rated appliances and compact fluorescent lighting are two examples of products driving utility bills down and gaining popularity among developers and owners. While granite countertops are still in demand, eco-friendly counters are becoming a must-have for multi-housing developments in major metropolitan markets. Made from recycled materials, many new sustainable countertops are becoming increasingly durable. In addition to environmentally conscious materials, other kitchen products are gaining momentum in the multifamily market, Busby reports. More designers are exploring ergonomically friendly cabinetry to better serve the needs of seniors. Technological upgrades to refrigerators and ovens have enhanced their functionality. For multifamily properties located in warm-weather areas, outdoor kitchen areas are growing in demand as community gathering spaces. Popular among young professionals, these cooking areas, equipped with a multitude of functions, can be situated near swimming pools. Product Picks…Preparing meals up to 15 times faster than conventional methods, the TurboChef 30-in. Double Wall Speedcook Oven [1] harnesses advanced technology. Heated air is blown through the oven cavity at speeds up to 60 mph, within a stylish frame (www.turbochef.com)…The high-arch spout of Kohler’s Simplice Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet [2] provides optimal clearance for larger pots and pans and a versatile pull-down spray is easily maneuverable to perform various cleanup tasks. (www.us.kohler.com)…The KitchenAid Outdoor Kitchen Line [3] includes 27-, 36- and 48-in. freestanding and built-in grills, refrigerator, ice makers, warming drawers, serving cart, built-in thermometers on all grill models and halogen lights on built-in models. (www.kitchenaid.com)…ZONACucina [4] by Heritage Custom Cabinetry combines sleek European styling, zoned cabinet space and innovative storage solutions, offering sufficient storage space, optimal workflows, better ergonomics and optimal access. (www.heritagecabinetry.biz)…Available in 27 colors, IceStone’s surfaces [5] contain 100 percent recycled glass in a cement matrix and are free of volatile organic compounds. (www.icestone.biz).To comment on this article, e-mail Diana Moshers at dmosher@multi-housingnews.com.