K/BIS Showcases Environmentally Friendly Products

By Teresa O’Dea Hein, Managing EditorChicago—While the Windy City lived up to its nickname outside of McCormick Place late last week, once the 40,000-plus attendees at the 2008 Kitchen/Bath Industry Show & Conference (K/BIS) entered the three large exhibition halls, they were enveloped by a buzz of energy and inspiration. The environment was much livelier than at the International Builders Show (IBS), held in mid-February in Orlando, Fla.The more than 900 exhibitors at K/BIS showed a wide variety of new products, from appliances and fixtures to faucets and surfacings. Water conservation features and/or environmentally friendly characteristics were touted for an array of products. While bathroom fixtures can be mundane, some manufacturers like Kohler and Toto have rethought the whole category, developing products that utilize light and sound. Caroma, who now sells 36 dual-flush toilets that carry the Water Sense label from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has also dramatically cut water usage and even created a combo sink/toilet that recycles water from hand washing to flush the toilet.New concepts for kitchens were also on display in a number of exhibit booths. Elkay once again showcased concept sinks, including one shaped like a martini glass with a faucet handle topped by a pimento-stuffed olive. It also unveiled innovative sinks designed by Jamie Drake and Fu-Tung Cheng.Electrolux introduced an expansive new appliance line of 130 SKUs, the largest launch in its history. All share design and performance elements, such as cobalt blue interiors and smooth rolling racks. Price Pfister unveiled its modern-inspired Kenzo lavatory family featuring the industry’s first eco-friendly wall mount waterfall trough faucet; two new thermostatic shower systems with a groundbreaking diverter-less technology for its half-inch system; and the Saxton collection’s full lavatory family with a water-conscious faucet. All come in a variety of finishes, as is now typical with most faucets.At the same time, while low-flow fixtures are in demand, an extensive range of shower system products, which combine a number of spray options, also continue to gain in popularity. Tile companies like Walker-Zanger brought out collections featuring lustrous metallic and classic, dramatic patterns reinterpreted in a modern vein.This is just  a sampling of the products showcased at K/BIS. Check MHN’s online product gallery for more as we add them every week.