Greenbuild Exhibitors LG Electronics, GE Lighting, and Fireclay Tile Offer Solid Green Building Product Solutions

Greenbuild 2012 San Francisco

Greenbuild was at the Moscone Center in San Francisco this year and Greenspiration Home was there!

By Trish Holder

Relating the Greenbuild experience to my readers, most of whom have not had the opportunity to attend the world’s largest green building conference and expo, is a lot like trying to thread a needle with a pillow.  I have to narrow down the most interesting things I saw into a few paragraphs.

This year’s show, held the week before Thanksgiving in San Francisco, was no different.  I needed a week rather than a jet-lagged day and a half to see it all. Nevertheless, I’ve narrowed down the list of what stood out to me as a homeowner who is concerned first and foremost with practicality and convenience, and secondly with things like energy efficiency, sustainability, greenness, and my overall impression of the company.  Taking all that into consideration, three companies left an impression on me:  LG Electronics, Fireclay Tile, and GE Lighting.

Washer Dryer Combo from LG Electronics

Washer Dryer Combo from LG Electronics

LG Washer Dryer Combo for Space Challenged Consumers

LG Electronics had a knockout product display set up inside two freestanding units situated between the North and South Halls of the Moscone Center.  One, a living kitchen, was dedicated to their residential products, including the LG all-in-one, compact washer dryer combo, which immediately caught my attention.

This space-efficient unit offers 2.3 cubic feet of washing and drying capacity in a single ventless unit.  The delightful concept is that you put your dirty clothes in and don’t return until they are clean and dry.  No switching out loads.  No forgetting to dry a wet load.  As one who does a lot of laundry, it seemed like heaven to me, perhaps even too good to be true.

“But does it work?” I asked skeptically, knowing that there is nothing more frustrating than having a washer or dryer fail you in the middle of busy week.  Of course, the representative said “Yes!” but what else would he say?

So I decided to do some research on my own about all-in-one laundry units.  Turns out they have been around for a few years and have received mixed reviews.  Almost all of the reviews I found on this particular unit, the LG Electronics WM3455HS, were very, very good, with just a few exceptions, which were very bad.  One thing seems clear–while families of all sizes might appreciate the space efficiency and convenience of an all-in-one unit, this is not a suitable appliance for a household that generates a lot of laundry. Additionally, it seems fairly clear that the wash and dry cycle take longer than conventional appliances.  If a reviewer did have complaints, they typically revolved around the overall drying time and capability.

The users who were happy with their units read the manuals and learned to operate and maintain them according to manufacturer’s recommendations—which vary considerably from typical washers and dryers.  These happy users also seemed to have done their homework ahead of time and were well aware of the limitations, including the limited capacity, lengthier cycle times, and drying issues.

All that said, it was a snazzy looking appliance and I believe it could be well-suited for many owners who wash just a few small loads a week.

Fireclay Tile Glazed Thin Brick

Glazed Thin Brick from Fireclay Tile

Fireclay Tile, Made in California, Focuses on Triple Bottom Line

Several years ago when we built the Greenspiration Home I was disappointed to learn how few tile products are produced in the US.  So I was delighted to learn about Fireclay Tile, which not only produces a wide range of decorative tile all in California but also uses a lot of recycled content.  They offer more shape, style, and color than any other U.S. manufacturer I have encountered thus far, including hand-painted decorative tile.  I especially liked their new eco-friendly Glazed Thin Brick in the color “Harbor”.  It’s a gorgeous, textural teal that had me thinking of ways I might use it in my own home.  If I were starting over or redecorating, I would be tempted to work this into my color scheme just because I loved the color and the tile so much.

If you’re into multi-colored decorative tiles, you won’t be disappointed with Fireclay’s selection.  You’re only limited by your imagination since all Fireclay tiles are made-to-order.

It is a very cool company that takes its triple bottom line (people, planet, profit) seriously.  The tiles are all hand-molded from extruded clays using recycled materials, unprocessed stoneware clays, and minerals. Glazes are mixed in-house and never contain any lead material. Fireclay also recycles their kiln heat, water, and all manufacturing waste.

GE Lighting Energy Efficient Halogen Light Bulb

GE Lighting Energy Efficient Halogen Light Bulb

Replacing a Light Bulb Is Cheaper and Easier Thanks to GE Lighting

Few topics confuse or bore me as much as light bulbs. In fact, the only time I think about lighting is when there’s not enough or a bulb has to be replaced.  But I was intrigued by the energy-efficient “soft white” halogen bulbs from GE Lighting.  These bulbs are only a few dollars more than the energy intensive incandescents we all grew up with, but are about 20% more efficient.  They do not last as long as CFLs or the extremely long lasting LEDs, nor are they nearly as efficient; but they do offer a high quality light without the baggage associated with either.

Halogen bulbs have a tungsten filament like incandescent bulbs but they are also filled with halogen gas.  When the bulb is lit, tungsten from the filament is evaporated into the bulb’s gas, providing illumination.  The halogen gas then carries the evaporated tungsten particles back to the filament and re-deposits them.  This creates the lower energy use.

The pros to Halogen lights are:

-       Added efficiency. Many are 10 to 20 more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs.

-       Instant start.  There is no delayed warm-up or flickering that you get with CFLs.

-       They are fully dimmable.

-       Light is bright and crisp.

I learned something else at the GE Lighting exhibit at Greenbuild.  The company has initiated new color-coded packaging for all of their light bulbs, so that people like us can pick out a replacement bulb without becoming an expert in lighting technology.  Different packaging colors represent different levels of brightness modeled after the natural cycle of daylight, from sunrise to sunset.

-       Yellow indicates bulbs with strong, vibrant light that is ideal for home cooking, cleaning and grooming (2,000 lumens or more, 150 watts or more).

-       Green represents fresh, energizing light good for focused tasks like reading, studying and game playing (1,050 – 1,999 lumens, 100 or 75 watts).

-       Blue emits an inviting, comfortable light, which is just right for entertaining, socializing and family time (600 – 1,049 lumens, 60 watts).

-       Orange is considered best for relaxing and watching TV because it gives off a cozy, soothing light (400 – 599 lumens, 40 watts).

-       Purple provides subtle and reassuring light for nightlight applications (less than 400 lumens, 25 watts).

This color-coding is in addition to the new standardized “Lighting Facts” label now mandated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on light bulb packaging. This label provides information about lumens (brightness), energy cost, life expectancy, light appearance (warm vs. cool light), wattage and mercury content much like the nutritional label on packaged food.

I think that those of us who have wasted more time than we care to admit trying to pick out a lighting product will agree that this is a welcome change.



10 Responses »

  1. You are a wealth of green info, Trish! I love your picks of the washer/ dryer and tiles. The light bulb info is especially interesting and relevant. Thanks!

  2. Loving the halogen lights but not sure I will be able to remember all of the color coding! Hopefully they have a cheat sheet at the store. LOL

  3. Trish,
    Thanks for the INFO…. was thinking of Going, but my Dad needed 24 hr Care before Passing to the Great Paradise in the Sky!

    Was reviewing the Show online, and It seemed like a great Show and worth the Time and “Energy”.
    Sorry the Pun.
    GE really has been doing their Homework and are Beta testing their Products more.
    Since their Lab is located here in Cleveland, I am a bit Partial to their Products.
    LG has improved and are Moving ahead of many Big Appliance Heavy Hitters.

    With your Following and Web Presence, reviewing and sponsoring $$$$ Products may be in your Future.

    Thanks and Good Luck.
    Enjoy the Holiday Season and May the New Year bring Success and Profitability to all of us Small Business Types.

    Mark J. Demyan

  4. Trish,

    It would be good to mention the all in one washer/dryer was originally a Passive House invention. The idea of condensing dryers is to eliminate another penetration in your envelope – the vent. The penetrations are generally a huge source of energy loss though conduction and convection. Also, our driers simply push a boatload of heat out to the exterior. Great product pick.

    I am not such a big fan of the halogen light as there are much better/more efficient options out there. The tiles are great.



  5. Trish,

    Thanks for an excellent article. I do have a serious question though.
    LG Electronics is a “Foreign Based Company, with all of it’s products made overseas, and I do wonder how you can support them while touting the Tiles being made in the good old USA. Sadly so all to many of the consumer goods are no longer manufactured in this country. In a recent “News Release, General Motors is transferring production of the famed “Cadillac” to CHINA, along with JEEP doing the same thing.

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment. I mean — REALLY THANKS. This is something I think about all the time, as Made in America is, indeed, very close to our heart. But it’s not all we write about. There are some other great websites and blogs that do a good job with that. Our content takes a lot of other things into consideration including efficiency (energy, space, water, etc.) , convenience, life cycle, sustainability, ethics, and more. It’s rare that any one company’s products does especially well in all of those categories. We don’t typically even mention brand names in our blogs, but we do mention a few products that catch our attention at the very few number of shows we attend. The concept of an all in one washer/dryer really excited me — from a homeowner’s perspective. Probably not right for everybody, but worth knowing about. If there is any such thing made it the US, I’d be pleased to know about it.



      I am glad you raised the question though.

  6. About a year ago we researched the all in one Washer and Dryer, and it seems that they were problematic for us… I think it had to do with venting… maybe they have improved, but I thought they were a great fit for us (2 adults).
    I don’t like Halogen bulbs because all of the ones I have had gave off a ton of heat, which means inefficiency. I am not saying that they aren’t a better choice than incandescents, but I personally would rather spend a few bucks more and get LED which are instant on, come in great “colors” and won’t heat up. [Brand name withheld], actually, makes a great one. The cost of LEDs are coming down steadily!

    Thanks for the great article, keep them coming!

  7. Hi Trish,
    I love your totally apt description of trying to thread a needle with a pillow!! I was there and only got to a small percentage of the massive amount of booths….Did happen to see the LG combo you’ve reviewed here…It is ‘cute’, but is petite enough that even for a 2 person household would probably require a conservative laundering approach,which of course could be a great idea…( A washer/dryer combo machine came with the house we bought in the late 70′s…I loved it, but it was already ancient and only lasted about year before suddenly erupting, causing a massive, floor ruining flood.).

  8. Great report Trish, but I to don’t buy the energy efficiency of the hologen light bulb! LED’s have come way down in price, $9-35.00.

    We have been replacing halogens everywhere! Yes they burn for many hours, but are very hot. And I think creating another market with the “light bulb” category to only appease the stubborn’s is not worth the effort when there is much better lighting out there.

    And please mention Kelvans when talking about lighting. The enitial issues with LED’s besides price was it’s poor lighting for the home markets. 3000 to 5000 kelvins are great for spot and task lighting but not warm and cozy. 2700k is now becoming the norm for home right where the incandecent left off.

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