This year's show comes as the construction industry suffers a nationwide downturn brought on by the subprime mortgage crisis and other weakening economic factors. Whether or not the United States is in a recession is a major topic among experts. The consensus from three leading economists who spoke yesterday: Maybe or probably.
Another big topic this year is so-called green building. Today is "Green Day" at the show. I don't think they'll be hiring the pop-punk band most popular in the 1990s for the event, but they have brought a lot of sustainable-building experts. And the show floor is full of companies advertising green products, including a "green kitchen."
One session I attended yesterday, however, threatened to drain some of the color from all these green products. It dealt with liability issues and green marketing claims. David Crump Jr. the National Association of Home Builders' director of legal research, warned the audience that there is no federally accepted definition of a "green" building or product. Many different associations offer green certifications using different criteria. Not clearly explaining what green-seeking homeowners should expect can lead to legal trouble.
"Your customers are going to expect more than just a green-building label," Crump said. Marketing a home or products as "green" sets expectations that can be tough to meet.
The session made me look at all the green products on the show floor in a new way. But in the age of global warming warnings, I don't think it will affect the popularity of this timely trend.