West Coast Green

Posted by Dave Farley
October 4th, 2010

A few comments, meanderings and observations over the last few weeks that might be of interest to the industry…

Question: What is Green about Nylon Decking or faux beams made out of Styrofoam?  I have no idea, but these manufacturers and numerous other companies showcased dubious “green products” at the West Coast Green show in San Francisco this past week.

It may be the continued weak economy, or that green washing has become an accepted practice for residential building product manufacturers and suppliers, but this show seemed to have an over abundance of products that had questionable claims to being sustainable.

For example, I spoke to a couple of exhibitors as to the sustainable nature of their products.  The responses, while entertaining, were not overly surprising.  The Nylon Deck Company showcased a new line of decking and fencing materials.  The person I spoke to commented that “We have 15% post consumer waste in our decking” meaning old carpet and pop bottles, and more importantly he continued “we’re not cutting down the forests”. Unfortunately, another exhibitor that showcased faux beams had an even worse answer for the sustainable nature of his products, “Styrofoam is an environmentally friendly product… they use it all the time in the agricultural business as it is mixed in with topsoil.”

As for the show itself, organizers suggest that 12,000 attendees participated in the three day event which in my opinion seemed a tad high.  Along with residential building product suppliers, the show had a large number of government and green focused groups and associations. These groups included: Forest Stewardship Council, the US Green Building Council, and the California Straw Building Association.  In speaking with exhibitors, the majority of attendees were home owners, architects, interior designers, residential builders and those interested in green building products and related technologies.  One exhibitor, who has participated in the past 3 West Coast Green shows, estimated that traffic by his booth was down by at least 1/3 compared to previous events.

Regardless of the event, “Green Washing” remains alive and well in today’s building product sector.  The BC industry, along with manufacturers need to continue to educate and promote the sustainable nature of our wood products to buyers in the United States.

As always, for more information on this or any other market in the United States, please feel free to contact me at dfarley@bcwood.com

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