Tag Archive | "green"

2016 Countertop and Kitchen Trends

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2016 Countertop and Kitchen Trends

Posted on 19 February 2016 by cradmin

Although we are less than two months into 2016, this year’s countertop and kitchen trends have already started to become clear, and the Internet is abuzz with all the latest developments. As in past years, our annual countertop and kitchen trend roundup will include all of the relevant information we have sourced from across the Web combined with what we have been hearing from our audience, industry suppliers, countertop fabricators, other industry professionals and consumers.

Kitchens Going From White to Gray

gray tilesSeveral general kitchen trends will play a role in the specific types, shapes and colors homeowners will be choosing for their new countertops this year, and chief among is a softening of colors. A recent article published by Houzz declares that soft color palettes have taken center stage, knocking out glossy whites and bold primary colors.

In another trend report, Daltile claims that white has officially been ousted by gray not only in the kitchen but also in other rooms of the typical American home, including the bathroom, living room and bedrooms. I must’ve been ahead of the curve because we just had our living room repainted in oyster gray and chose a similar gray to accent the white ceramic tiles of our new backsplash.

However, I am certainly not alone, as the Washington Post reports that 61 percent of renovators painted their own walls gray, beige or white within the last year, with green and yellow trailing at 10 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

“Charcoal, grays and even neutral pastels like pale blue, pale green-gray and tinted whites are the new alternative to the standard white,” said Jane Lockhart, a popular interior designer in Ontario, KitchenAid-Black-StainlessCanada. She also said that new and remodeled kitchens will include light wood tones, such as walnut, white oak and whitewashed wood in place of bolder accents.

In a sharp contrast to white and other lighter colors, all-black kitchens have begun to make an appearance this year, and the color is being contrasted with metallics to create a look of luxury. Decorator’s Wisdom, a DIY decorating blog, reports that Kitchenaid has already gambled on this trend by releasing a new line of kitchen appliances in black stainless steel.

Kitchen Becomes the Heart of Home

This year, the trend to transform the kitchen as a central meeting place and utilitarian common room as expanded beyond belief. With the ability to take in information at will and on the go thanks to smartphones, hanging out in front of the living-room television is largely a thing of the past.

Couples, families, housemates and even single individuals are increasingly forsaking the comfort of the living room and are going straight to the kitchen where freestanding tables are quickly becoming passé. People now want the convenience of upgraded countertops, and with the range of support brackets available for overhangs, it is certainly no wonder. Islands, side counters and nooks are making kitchen tables inefficient, impractical and obsolete.

Countertops: Thin Is In

When it comes to countertops, the word on the street is the thinner the better, and compact sintered surfaces have come in to fill that demand. However, not everyone has the moolah for such extravagance, and granite and quartz remain top competitors. However, before we get to specific surfaces, let’s take a look at colors and styles.

An Angie’s List article on 2016 countertop trends written by Haley Johnston of Moss Building & Design hits the nail on the head when it states that “white marble tops the list of the most popular kitchen countertop colors.” Every brand, no matter the specific material, has come out with a slew of white marble-like designs. Some people with money have sprung for actual marble, but those who know better go for quartz or solid surface, and upscale laminate designs have entered the market and infiltrated the homes of people who could afford much more.

When it comes to style, homeowners have followed the eye-catching, floor-to-surface design that has come to be known as waterfall countertops. This is really just a countertop that extends beyond the horizontal plane to include an integral vertical surface of identical composition and color. Even if consumers decide against waterfall countertops, the trend for 2016 is to choose mitered, yet inconspicuous edging, which is notable for creating a sleek appearance with continuous lines.

A final style guideline for countertops, which has been great news for fabricators, is that they are quickly replacing kitchen tables. Where kitchen tables once stood, countertop islands are being built to match the surrounding countertops. These islands often include overhands and stools, and in addition to kitchen tables, they have largely replaced home-office desks. Home businesses are more popular than ever, and the kitchen has emerged as a central workstation.

Countertop Surfaces for 2016

As far as surfacing materials go, the big winners in 2016 are as expected: quartz and granite. Quartz continues to make the strongest gains, but granite remains the most popular surface after laminate, which once held its position solely on price but has come into its own with the help of modern designers and improved durability.

  • Natural Stone – Beyond laminate, granite remains the leader in countertop materials, and with good reason. It looks fantastic, has durability and is more affordable than ever, not to mention unique. However, it is losing market share quickly as quartz takes center stage in the arena. When it comes to natural stone countertops, though, many of us forget that there are alternatives to granite. Soapstone and slate have garnered loyal followings, and some end users are adamant in their promotion and defense against criticism, which has newly emerged this year. While many prefer natural stone, 2016 has brought out the factions.
  • Engineered Stone – Not too many years back, quartz remained relatively unknown to the masses, but its exceptional properties and range of colors and patterns have quickly brought this surfacing into the mainstream. Many fabricators and designers reckon that quartz will take second place only to laminate in the next decade.
  • Concrete – Glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) is also edging its way into the market, but it has not been gaining as much strength as it did only a few years in the past. Likely it is held back by its need for sealant and a slower fabrication process. However, those who do it well have found a solid niche for themselves, and the look of masterfully customized GFRC is incomparable to anything else.
  • Sustainables – Eco-friendly surfacing of all types is quickly gaining ground, but perhaps Butcher Blockmore so with commercial and industrial builders than in the residential sector. The odd aspect about the rise of environmentally friendly surfacing is that it is being driven by consumers while largely seen as impractical or too expensive for these same consumers’ homes. On the other hand, hundreds of communities across the nation have successfully promoted sustainable lifestyles, and the trend to do all that is possible for the perceived health of people and the planet has been taken up by both baby boomers and millennials. (Read more about sustainable and eco-sensitive countertop products here, at our sister website www.GreenSurfaceResource.com.)
  • Sintered Compact Surface –Sintered compact surface is, by far, the hottest countertop material available – on an upscale price point. This seems to be the future or next generation of countertop material and new competitors are entering the market to get a share of the spoils.
  • Solid Surface – Still holding onto third place in material popularity, is solid surface material, a close cousin or perhaps parent to the newer quartz surfacing/engineered stone, originally branded by 9203CE_Dusk_Ice_(3)DuPont as Corian. However, fabricators report it is being relegated more to the bathroom, and its real growth seems to be in the commercial sector. Like it’s younger quartz-based relative, in the past, it has been driven by its nearly unlimited designs along with its hygienic properties. However, many predict it will be overtaken in the kitchen by engineered stone, which is growing doubly fast as solid surface. That said, lately, there has been an influx of new companies into the solid surface market and some unique new color options, so perhaps, this will spawn awareness and a return to growth for the product, but that remains to be seen.

Consumer Reports Weighs In

Caesarstone Symphony GreyThis year, Consumer Reports broke out and published an article on the top countertop trends of 2016, and it was very specific. Rather than general trends, this most-respected of consumer-review organizations named names, and the choices were largely based on the new products presented at Design & Construction Week in Las Vegas.

Formica LaminateThe surfaces Consumer Reports is backing as this year’s trends are as follows:

  • Wilsonart Solid Surface – Dusk Ice
  • Formica Laminate – Gray Josef Linen
  • Caesarstone Quartz – Symphony Grey

But for all of the 2016 trends, the real question from most countertop fabricators is how to keep pace with the economic upswing. Both new structures and renovations continue to make a steady comeback, and the ability to read and forecast trends, while inherently risky, often works to increase revenue, no matter how you choose to go about it.

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CountertopResource.com Launches Sister Website: GreenSurfaceResource.com

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CountertopResource.com Launches Sister Website: GreenSurfaceResource.com

Posted on 04 January 2016 by cradmin

GreenSurfaceResource.com logoAlthough the site has actually been live since June of 2015 as it has been under development, the launch of www.GreenSurfaceResource.com, a sister site to CountertopResource.com, is now official.

The main focus of the new site is to be the the most informational, in-depth resource for environmentally friendly surfacing professionals and those interested in green surfacing materials and the sustainable surfacing industry.

There you will find information on all of the eco-friendly surfacing materials used for countertops, flooring, wall cladding, exterior surfacing, as well as related products. You will also find information related to fabrication and/or installation supplies, sinks and other ancillary products, and more.

Check out this great new website on green surfacing materials now, and let us know what you think.

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Gluewarehouse.com Earns Greenguard Certification, Makes Environmental Product Declaration

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Gluewarehouse.com Earns Greenguard Certification, Makes Environmental Product Declaration

Posted on 10 December 2015 by cradmin

Gluewarehouse.com earned GREENGUARD Gold Certification and released an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for its countertop/surfacing adhesives. The EPD, done via UL Environment, provides users with comprehensive information the environmental impact pf a product, including it’s impact on acidification, eutrophication, depletion of natural resources and energy consumption, as well as its carbon footprint, . The EPD required the company to undergo an extensive audit conducted by UL Environment, an independent organization that performs environmental testing and certification. “We have seen a significant increase in projects that are specified to include the Greenguard certification, especially commercial projects,” said Chad Thomas of Gluewarehouse.com “Our advanced formulation has achieved Gold certification and can be specified for use in facilities that demand the lowest level of VOC’s such as schools and medical facilities.”

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IceStone Releases Health Product Declaration for its Recycled Glass Surfaces

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IceStone Releases Health Product Declaration for its Recycled Glass Surfaces

Posted on 26 March 2015 by cradmin

IceStone White_Pearl

White Pearl is just one color of IceStone recycled glass and cement-based colors for which the company has recently released an HPD

IceStone LLC released a health product declaration (HPD) for its entire line of recycled glass and cement durable surfaces. The HPD is a reporting tool that standardizes the disclosure of product ingredients, enabling specifiers and consumers to make more informed purchasing decisions. Although Health Product Declarations are relatively new (a pilot HPD program was initiated in 2012), the company’s commitment to transparency and healthy ingredients has been a driving force behind product development since the company’s founding in 2003. The HPD is a complement to IceStone’s Cradle to Cradle™ certification, which assesses a company’s social responsibility, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and material reutilization, in addition to product material health.

“The increasing demand for transparency and preference for ecologically sound products is a positive shift in the design industry,” said IceStone President Jana Milcikova. “Producing a health product declaration is a natural fit for IceStone, and allows us to easily express our commitment to responsible design.”

You may also be interested in this article on the new colors of GEOS recycled glass surfacing.

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EOS Surfaces Expands GEOS Recycled Glass Surface Colors

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EOS Surfaces Expands GEOS Recycled Glass Surface Colors

Posted on 23 February 2015 by cradmin

GEOS Glacier BayAt KBIS 2015, EOS Surfaces showcased two new colors of its GEOS Recycled Glass Surface, a non-cement-based recycled glass material: Cirrus and Glacier Bay. Cirrus has a bright white background with clear/white glass particulate for a clean white on white option. Glacier Bay (pictured here), with a frosty white background, has larger blue glass particulates akin to deep blue waters in an arctic bay. The design is reminiscent of its earlier Marina or Avalon colors, but with more pronounced recycled glass chips. GEOS now has more than 20 colors available.

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NSF, Natural Stone Council Develop Stone Sustainability Standard

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NSF, Natural Stone Council Develop Stone Sustainability Standard

Posted on 06 December 2013 by cradmin

NSF International and the Natural Stone Council (NSC) have developed NSC 373 Sustainability Assessment for Natural Dimension Stone, touted as the first sustainability assessment standard for stone. It lays out criteria for sustainable development aspects of stone production while defining environmental requirements for stone quarrying and production.

NSC utilized NSF International’s technical expertise as an American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-accredited standards developer to help create the consensus-based standard. When finalized as an ANSI standard it is expected to assist in acceptance of NSC 373 by trade and sustainability stakeholders.  NSF helped NSC through the consensus process by gathering and managing a joint committee comprised of key stakeholders to define and agree on criteria for the standard. The committee included stone industry trade associations, quarry and processing companies, NGOs, architects, and government, environmental advocacy, academia, green building and design groups.

Certification to NSC 373 by quarries and processors is the first step in the product certification process for natural stone. Full certification for stone products will be achieved through a combination of NSC 373 certification for quarries and processors along with chain of custody (NSC COC) compliance for the rest of the distribution chain.  The NSC COC program is currently in development and near completion.

“As products with sustainability claims continue to enter the marketplace, independent, third-party certification of products to consensus-based standards can help architects and specifiers make educated decisions about product selection,” said Duke Pointer, executive director of the Natural Stone Council. “NSC 373 provides a needed standard of excellence in sustainability for the natural stone industry and will serve as the first step of the developing NSC Chain of Custody program.”

“NSF International helped NSC establish a stone standard which includes well-defined environmental, ecological, social responsibility and human health metrics through a multi-stakeholder, science-based approach,” said Tom Bruursema, general manager of NSF International’s Sustainability Division. “The criteria in this standard will help quarry operators and stone fabricators assess their internal practices, drive efficiencies and attain preferred status in their markets as the building industry continues to value sustainable products and practices.”

The NSC 373 standard is leading the transition to verified, more sustainably extracted and processed natural stone. This allows the natural stone industry to compete on a level playing field with other industries that already have sustainability standards and enables quarries and primary processing plants to demonstrate commitment to applying more sustainable approaches to development and corporate operations.

NSF International provides certification to the new NSC standard through the NSF Sustainability Division. NSF Sustainability will evaluate natural stone quarrying and fabrication operations in several key impact categories, including water, transportation, site management, land reclamation and adaptive reuse, and management of excess process materials and waste.

Certification to NSC 373 is based on point totals to achieve Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum level certification. Monitoring and periodic re-evaluation is required to maintain certification.

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U.S. Green Building Council Launches LEED v4

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U.S. Green Building Council Launches LEED v4

Posted on 04 December 2013 by cradmin

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has launched LEED v4, the newest version of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green-building ratings program. It is the first major revision to the ratings program in five years. Originally LEED 2012, the updated version went through several revisions including five public comment periods before being put up for a vote to USGBC members. The update builds upon the fundamentals established in previous versions and also offers a new system that readies all LEED projects in a portfolio to perform at higher levels.

LEED v4 encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices through the creation and implementation of universally understood and accepted tools and performance criteria. Already, 122 beta projects from around the world are using LEED v4.

Highlights of LEED v4 include:

  • New market sectors: New sector adaptations for LEED include data centers, warehouses and distribution centers, hospitality, existing schools, existing retail and mid-rise residential projects.
  • Time-saving support tools and resources: Simplified LEED credit submittal requirements, descriptive step-by-step reference guide materials with videos and tutorials, and a more intuitive technology platform.
  • Building performance management: LEED v4 is focused on outcomes so that building owners have a better understanding of how to manage their buildings to meet full performance potential.
  • New impact categories: Climate change, human health, water resources, biodiversity, green economy, community and natural resources.

“LEED v4, at its core, provides insight into the synergies within the building system, providing solutions for optimizing performance, and ultimately achieving better environmental, economic and social outcomes in our buildings,” said Scot Horst, senior vice president of LEED, USGBC. “LEED v4 is the LEED of the future, where we challenge the marketplace to go further, to make the next great leap toward better, cleaner, healthier buildings where people live and work.”

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Grenite Receives Food Zone Certification

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Grenite Receives Food Zone Certification

Posted on 27 March 2013 by cradmin

The Grenite Engineered Stone Series offered by Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics has received “food zone” certification from NSF International, an independent organization that certifies products for the consumer goods, food and water industries.  Grenite is made from up to 80 percent post-consumer recycled materials. NSF approved the use of Grenite as a table or countertop for “all food contact types” at a maximum temperature of 400-degrees F in the following Grenite colors:  Rouho (red); Azulize (blue); Raw (tan); Cinario (light grey); Java (brown); Viridani (green); Celebrity (black and tan); and Birch Prada (beige) . Grenite also has an NSF “splash zone” certification, for use on surfaces that are subject to spillage, splash or other food soiling during operation.

 

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Steps to Sustainability from Upper Management to the Bottom Line

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Steps to Sustainability from Upper Management to the Bottom Line

Posted on 20 February 2013 by CRadmin2

by Steve Richerson

Several big companies, such as GE, IBM and Walmart, and many smaller companies, including Tenant, Centiva and Stonyfield Yogurt, have recently locked their GPS coordinates on a really intriguing destination: market profitability through ecological sustainability. And fabricators can also benefit from taking this route.

Ecological sustainability refers to the way we choose to use Earth’s natural resources. If we use resources in a way that doesn’t harm future generations’ ability to use those resources, that use is considered sustainable for generations to come. If we harm future generations’ ability to use those resources, it’s not sustainable.

Why should fabricators choose sustainability?

  1. It allows fabricators to cut overhead costs for everything they take, make and waste. These savings can go directly to the bottom line.
  2. Sustainability allows companies to build a successful enterprise they can be proud of. This leads to increased employee productivity, retention and attraction.
  3. It allows fabrication firms to build reputations for being good corporate citizens. This results in loyal consumers and fans who can determine questions of zoning, taxes and community support.

So, what are the steps we have to take to get our GPS pointing toward sustainability?

Step 1 – Get support from the top. You’re going to have to make a pitch, presentation or proposal to convince upper management that sustainability is good for the bottom line of the company. Simply making the argument that going green is the right thing to do won’t cut it. You need to make the business argument for it. Make the case in dollars and cents.

Step 2 – Engage everyone on the team. Now that you know the front office has your back, it’s time to engage the team. Build a group of middle and senior management from all departments, including sales, HR, facilities, retail and fabrication, that will focus on efforts to save the company money by saving resources and preventing pollution.

Even members of the team that are environmentally agnostic, such as those who are skeptical of global warming or think recycling is a waste of time, can understand that waste equals inefficiency, and inefficiency costs the company money. Saving the company money through saving resources is the goal.

Step 3 – Get it on the company map. Get an official sustainability statement from your team on the company’s strategy map. This will allow your integrated sustainability to be an aligned priority at every level. You’ll get support from everyone because it’s on the map. Employees up and down the ladder want to know that sustainability is important to the company and that they’ll be rewarded for spending time on it.

Step 4 – Take, make and waste. Have the team focus on areas of take, make and waste. Create a list of opportunities for each of these areas. Waste is inefficient. If you can cut down on inefficiency, you grow your bottom line and help reduce impact on the planet. Here are a few questions that should be asked:

  • Can transportation costs be reduced by getting smaller or more fuel-efficient vehicles? Maybe planning out installation routes more efficiently could cut fuel costs?
  • Can we cut our waste-removal costs by recycling scrap, water used in stone/quartz fabrication or other areas? Rather than shipping scrap to the landfill, many companies store it for future use, or have regular sales to the public to buy the scrap. Vanities, paving stones and cutting boards are several products that many fabricators now offer from their scrap rather than paying someone to haul it off.
  • Can we choose an option for shipping that uses less packaging?
  • Is it possible to offer a new product that is within our core competencies but has a lesser impact on resources?
  • Can we source surfacing materials or fabrication supplies closer to our facility to cut shipping costs?

When everyone gets focused on the take, make and waste areas, the result is a freely flowing stream of new ideas for continued sustainability and profit.

Step 5 – Measure immediately. Once you’ve found the areas of focus, begin to measure them. If possible, integrate automated measurements of all input and output. Even very competent managers and front line employees can get it wrong. It’s easy to overestimate or underestimate how much energy, how many raw materials and how much water is wasted if there’s no real data on it. Collect the data right away.

Step 6 – Set goals. Now that you have the data, set your goals for sustainability. Make these goals specific and measurable, and make sure they are of strategic, bottom-line value to your company.

Step 7 – Execute. You’ve set your goals. Now, make them work.
Remember to make steps towards this goal every day. Continue to ask yourself, “How can I make this just a tiny bit better?”

Step 8 – Share progress. Be honest with shareholders, employees and customers about the results. The public will appreciate your honest attempts to be more sustainable even if you’re not totally successful. Be honest about the results, and you’ll be better off. They want to know you’re on the right road and will support you for that.

Step 9 – Conduct an annual review. Have the team review the improvements that were made over the course of the year. Ideas that worked in one area may spur improvements in other areas. Keep going; there’s always room to do a little better.

Many of the world’s smartest companies are working toward better sustainability. It’s good for people, the environment and, most importantly, it’s good for profit.

About the Author
Steve Richerson is a nationally recognized speaker and consultant. As a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, National Recycling Coalition and the North American Environmental Education Association, he is spearheading the campaign to reduce corporate waste and promote environmentally sound business methods. To learn more about Steve, visit www.greenbizspeaker.com.

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Surfaces and Sustainability in the Home

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Surfaces and Sustainability in the Home

Posted on 29 November 2012 by CRadmin2

 

More and more people are choosing to go green and live as sustainable a life as possible, and one primary way to achieve this is to invest in a sustainable home. Maintaining a home includes many interconnected facets. How food and water is brought into the home can affect how sustainable it is. The transportation used to arrive and depart a home is also a factor. Energy and waste disposal are even more essential elements to sustainability, and a critical element includes all of the materials that make up the home, including kitchen countertops and bathroom surfaces.

Sustainable Materials

A sustainable home must be built with sustainable materials. These materials have a lowor zero impact on the environment and are either renewable or made from recycled products. In addition, any coating or finishing on the materials must be organic, or at a minimum, water-based.

When it comes to the frame and walls of a home, sustainable materials include adobe, bamboo, rammed earth, straw bales and reclaimed brick, stone or metal. However, most of these materials do not make for decent countertops.

Some of the common sustainable materials used for kitchen countertops are as follows:

  • Recycled glass based materials – This is one of the most common materials used for green countertops. The recycled glass is mixed with concrete, resin or other solid surface materials, and it can comprise anywhere from 5 percent to 50 percent of the total mass of the countertop as a whole. It may also be mixed with other sustainable materials such as fly ash, which is a byproduct of coal fuel.
  • Recycled paper – Recycled paper has become increasingly popular in recent years. The paper is mixed with a resin base and fabricated into slabs ranging from 0.25 to 2.0 inches in thickness. The resin base from at least one manufacturer is made from cashew shells. Although made of paper, these countertops are surprisingly heat and stain resistant.
  • End-grain bamboo – These chopping block type countertops are a type of plywood made from thin, rectangular pieces of bamboo. Bamboo is considered one of the best substitutes for wood because it grows much faster than trees. It is also relatively inexpensive and easy to handle.

The NSF is currently working on guidelines for a Product Category Rule (PCR) for sustainable residential countertops.

More Than Material

As a fabricator, you may think you are covered by simply offering one of the above materials to your eco-conscious clients. However, there is more to sustainability than the types of materials used. For some of your customers, the background of the materials and the facilities where they are fabricated are vitally important.

Many people seeking to build a sustainable home or make their current home eco-friendly will only use locally sourced materials. The transportation of materials from distant corners of the country or from other countries creates a large carbon footprint, and it is even larger for materials that are sourced from one location and manufactured in another before entering into the consumer market.

Another factor that may concern some customers is the sustainability of the fabricator. If you carry sustainable products but your building and processes are not green or LEED certified, then you may miss out on some sizable sales.

Ultimately, if you want a piece of the growning “green” market, you have to cater to that market on some level, and many of those that do, have found it to be well worth the effort.

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