While no one at the International Builders' Show in Las Vegas was certain how much, or even whether, sales will rebound in 2010, nearly everyone was clear on the direction that suppliers to the building and construction industry are heading.
Everyone is going green, whether it is by the use of recycled content, the introduction of environmentally friendly materials or the development of energy-efficient products or products with a lower carbon footprint.
Other trends include more colors, more options, products with better aesthetics that give consumers more choices, and ultralow-maintenance siding and decking products.
Green building is growing every year. It is not slowing down, said Drew Brandt, marketing director for the Sidings Product Group of building materials giant CertainTeed Corp. of Valley Forge, Pa. When we look at developing products now, we look not just at what they are made of, but what they can become someday in the future.
We have to understand the life cycle of products and develop products that fit into the system, and understand what it can be developed into in its next life, said Brandt. That is pretty big from a plastic building product concept.
With that in mind, CertainTeed showcased seven new products at the Jan. 19-22 show that incorporate sustainable attributes.
Among them was a photovoltaic roofing panel; fiberglass insulation with recycled glass content of 35 percent and an organic binder made from renewable bio-based materials; its fiber cement WeatherBoards Individual Shakes siding, which has 50 percent recycled content; and new decking and railing products made with an average recycled content of 25 percent for its EverNew line.
CertainTeed also showcased its CedarBoards-brand double 6-inch clapboard insulated vinyl siding with 60 percent recycled content. The product, first introduced in mid-2009, has a lower carbon footprint than the same product made from virgin vinyl.
Sustainability has also been embraced by Ply Gem Industries Inc. of Cary, N.C., which makes windows, doors, siding, stone veneer, fencing and railing.
The whole green initiative will continue to evolve and grow, said Jerry Blais, vice president of marketing for Ply Gem's siding group. The call from builders, architects and consumers is clear. They want building products that use less energy, less water and fewer natural resources.
We are trying to make it as simple as possible and provide information that people can understand, Blais said. We want to be as fact-based as possible and be third-party-certified.
The other part of the green equation is energy efficiency.
We are developing new technologies so the performance of windows is significantly better, said Gary Pember, vice president of marketing for Simonton Windows, a Fortune Brands company headquartered in Parkersburg, W.Va. Energy efficiency is a big thing, he said.
More cost-conscious consumers are upgrading to better products with better features and using things like insulating siding to save on their energy bill.
Composite lumber companies also introduced a variety of products, some using new materials and others using the traditional mix of recycled plastic bags, stretch wrap and wood chips.
The new Transcend wood-plastic composite product line introduced by Trex Corp. contains 95 percent recycled content. The decking and railings are made entirely from recycled materials except for an encapsulating, co-extruded shell that resists scratches, fading, staining and mold. Trex said the product matches the performance of competing cellular PVC decking.
In addition, two relatively new companies, aiming at the same market, introduced new decking lines with what they contend are more sustainable than existing products.
LifeTime Composites LLC of Carlsbad, Calif., introduced its fly ash composite decking made from inert materials that are extruded and encapsulated with a polyurethane layer.
Tech-Wood North America of Greenwood, S.C., unveiled its Tech-Plank decking, made from a mix of oriented long-strand pinewood fibers encapsulated with liquefied propylene. The company claims its product is a better alternative to pressure-treated wood planks because there are no chemicals used in Tech-Plank decking. Other green introductions included:
* Fiberon LLC's newest PVC-coated railing product line, Inspirations, which will be available in March, initially only in white.
* The PGT 2200 Series vinyl window line. Window maker PGT Inc. of North Venice, Fla., said the wood-look line is energy-efficient.
* The new dB family of sound barriers from Mount Airy, N.C.-based United Plastics Corp., which are made from recycled ethylene vinyl acetate and can be completely recycled.
* The Dow Powerhouse photovoltaic solar shingle from Dow Building Solutions of Midland, Mich. The firm claims the shingle can be seamlessly integrated with standard asphalt shingles. It will be available in 2011.
Tamko Building Products Inc. introduced several roofing products including Peel-n-Stick Felt, a saturated felt underlay with a release-film backing that allows the underlay to be applied directly to the roof deck. The Joplin, Mo., company also introduced a synthetic underlay made from a polymeric surface film that is skid-resistant and can be exposed for up to six months to ultraviolet rays.
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