What’s Trending for “Goin’ Green in 2015”?

What’s the best news about Green Trends in 2015?

Nearly every industry seems to be trending toward environmental responsibility, more companies than ever are setting up or adding to their in-house “greenprints” and most consumers are demanding green products and services at home and in their communities.

Here’s the “Top 6″ of what’s most trending for “Goin’ Green” in 2015:

DSC_00351.  Urban farming. In response to the swelling demand for fresh, local food, expect to see integrated gardening projects becoming commonplace. People are beginning to reject the idea that farming is necessarily a rural pursuit. Community gardens are cropping up in the ever-increasing vacant city lots from abandoned home teardowns. Backyard chickens and goats are taking up residence as a result of eased-up city ordinances. Food forests are taking root from increased funding and resources from community foundations and non-profits.

In Akron, look for increased use of vacant lots in Summit Lake, West Hill and North Hill and around the Zoo for accelerated urban farming practices.

ms-julies-kitchen-9109562.  Increased sustainability in dining. The National Restaurant Association has identified sustainability measures as one of 2015’s hottest industry trends. Watch for more sustainable fish and seafood options, more responsibly-raised and free range meat and poultry served and more locally-grown ingredients added to major entrees. More restaurateurs will be partnering with local food advocacy groups to decrease food waste through composting, and conserving energy, water and other resources.

In Akron, look for increase in food waste partnerships between locally-owned restaurants and coffeehouses and composters.  

alpaca sweaters3.  Demand for natural and non-toxic materials. Already trendy, especially when locally- sourced and increasingly health-conscious.  Think zero-VOC paints, low-VOC carpeting and natural fiber insulation. Materials such as limestone, alpaca wool and local pine lumber are increasing in demand. More and more options for sustainably produced, socially responsible clothing and furnishings are all around us. We’ll see green lines from both high-end designers as well as moderate retailers like Target’s Tom’s collection and BeGood.

In Akron, look for alpaca insulation available for home energy retrofits and increased consignment stores identifying natural materials and locally-made  goods in their mix.

filtrexx living wall4.  Living roofs and walls. These “lively” roofs and walls are becoming increasingly popular not only as green home features, but also cropping up as strip mall/commercial office building adornments. Besides conveying energy efficiency benefits and helping regulate surface water runoff, they protect a building’s interior from electromagnetic radiation. Green walls and roofs not only improve aesthetics, but also moderate temperatures around buildings.

In Akron, look for a new terracing systems on hillside community gardens and living walls and green roofs on new and renovated commercial buildings.

passive haus5.  Investment in greener homes. Smaller footprints and greener features ranked at the top of the trends list among NAHB survey respondents with 74 percent saying their next homes are smaller; and 68 percent saying their homes will get greener in 2015—far surpassing the other trends on the survey. According to Green Home Builder magazine, homeowners are ready and willing to live in greener homes even for extra money. Builders are rising to the occasion with more energy-efficient new construction and water-conserving plumbing without premium pricing. Net zero, water smart and passive houses are increasing in demand.  With the increasing affordability of solar power (and even geothermal and wind) for individual consumers, this type of home is likely to explode in popularity over the next year.

In Akron, look for a new Passive House to be built by new home developer and more efforts in solar panel and wind (in the form of windpod) installations.  

Bike blog : cycle freight : Outspoken delivery6.  Cargo and e-bikes. There’s a revolution rolling down our city’s streets, and its symbol is cargo bicycles and e-bicycles (aka electric bicycle using batteries–many solar-powered). E-bikes utilize electric–even solar– batteries to offer a boost when needed for pedaling up hills. These two new-wave bicycle types are the #1 health trend identified for families in ParentMap.  Okay, the cargo bike is slow and heavy, but it transports several bodies on one vehicle and over-sized goods that once was the sole transport option belonging to the automobile. More than any development in the past few decades, these two bicycle transformations fulfill the promise of integrating bicycling into our daily lives.

In Akron, look for bicycle grocery delivery service to be offered by non-traditional grocer and more bicycle commuters mounting e-motors on their rear racks.

Sources:

Recyclebank: The List: Green Trends to Watch For in 2015

ParentMap: #1 health trend for families  

National Association of Homebuilders

Green Homebuilder magazine

National Restaurant Association

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ROI: The key to turning customers on to green

ImageIt doesn’t matter if my clients are steeped in green or stepping into green, the challenge of providing clear and concise Return on Investment (ROI) for their customers seems an exercise in “blood, sweat and tears.”

The green industry does a fine job in spouting the “Save the Planet!” message for customers, which is a good thing, but when it comes to the message of “How Does Green Save Me Money?” — it’s often muddy or missing.

Take home remodeling.  According to the latest Professional Remodeler green research, energy-efficient products continue to grow in popularity while other green improvements are lagging.  In Housingzone.com’s recent special report on green remodeling, 45 percent of remodelers believe that green features help them sell remodeling projects. While up 33 percent from 2007, it remains flat from a year ago.  Take energy retrofits.  For some time, homeowners have been sold on the fact that they are good for the environment and save them money on utility bills; however, a recent article in CNNMoney.com points out that appraisers don’t recognize these features one iota when conducting their home appraisals.

Years back, Cleveland-based Buildings magazine stated that “thanks to programs such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s landmark LEED rating system for buildings, green facilities have crept into the mainstream.” I have to also mention a new  up-and-coming program, Green Globes, a viable alternative to LEED.  But, the article went on to say that “despite the growing recognition of sustainable practices, green products, and high-performance technologies in building design and construction, concern within the facilities industry continues due to lack of accurate, thorough, and quantifiable information about the financial and economic impacts of high-performance buildings.”

These indicators tell me that this industry, among many others, is not doing its job in conveying the green ROI to its customers.

How can we develop this key green ROI message for customers?  It takes time and an investment. Here are some of the ways:

  • Be persistent with your suppliers and manufacturers to pull ROI information out of them any way you can.
  • Set up a monitoring system with your past customers who have invested in your green products to get ROI stats first-hand.
  • Invest in a third party—university research department, local marketing firm—to assist in getting the information for you.
  • Comb the Internet for helpful product ROI information such as greenandsave.com and thedailygreen.com.
  • Develop your own ROI formulas and tables by using compound interest calculators.

It can be done. It’s well worth the time and investment to develop the ROI formula for your customers.  This will put the “green”  in your pocket as well as help save the planet.

Urban Ecovillages: Future Trends Give Thumbs Up

earthsong ecovillageThe timing is right for the Akron community to step up and embrace an urban ecovillage. Sustainable elements include:  (1) Greenbuilding and rehabs, (2) urban farming, (3) Co-op retail businesses, (4) shared transit, and (5) ecoliving events, training and education.

Here are the TOP TEN reasons why the launch of an urban ecovillage in 2013 is sure to rock:

  1. The drive toward sustainable urban development: a greater focus on neighborhood efforts to integrate environmental, economic, and social responses to our current crises.   Urban Current:  A Project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States Urban & Regional Policy Program.
  2. Urban agricultural efforts have made common cause with groups concerned with healthy non-processed food.  The Nation
  3. The sustainability movement will stay on track to become the norm, rather than the exception, with greater efforts in the works to develop greener urban districts and more sustainable, low-tech urban design.  Greenbuilding Services
  4. Collaborative Consumption describes the rapid explosion in traditional sharing, bartering, lending, renting and swapping—including shared landscapes, transportation and meals.–TIME names Collaborative Consumption as one of the “10 Ideas That Will Change The World.” 
  5. With the uptick of sustainable building mandates and consumer demand for  sustainability, funding and incentives for sustainable structures are becoming more readily available.  Greenbuilding Services
  6. We are becoming a nation of overachievers.  Just saving energy is now not enough. The trend is to go all the way and make homes net-zero.  Most net-zero homes achieve this designation by combining a variety of passive and active design strategies.  Buildapedia
  7. Hundreds of “social enterprises” that use profits for environmental, social or community-serving goals are expanding rapidly. New Economics Institute
  8. At the cutting edge of experimentation are the growing number of egalitarian, and often green, worker-owned cooperatives.  New Economics Institute
  9. The number of bike commuters in the USA rose by 64 percent from 1990 to 2009. University Transportation Research Center   
  10. Companies are lining up to register as B Corporations (the “B” stands for “benefit”) allowing companies to subordinate profits to social and environmental goals.  The Nation