Head of the Class The theme of this year's National Kitchen & Bath Association MasterClass symposium was incorporating green design principles into innovative and efficient kitchens and baths. During Green Fusion, four experts addressed marketing, sales, products, and practices to create sustainable environments. One of the speakers was Penny Bonda, Eco Editor of GreenZone, Interior Design magazine's online resource (www.interiordesign.net/greenzone). Bonda's tips for green kitchen and bath projects include:

Selling green. Designers can sell green to clients by pointing out the health benefits and economic benefits. “Those are the hot-buttons that people respond to. I show how health benefits translate directly to economic benefits,” Bonda says. “If a place — residence, office, retail, school — is healthy, you will get better performance from the occupants.” She says an additional approach is appealing to the client's conscience: “‘Let's do it for the good of the planet.' And if a client wants five showerheads, you can talk about statistics on water shortages.”

Mold. Bonda points out that mold is toxic and expensive to remedy. “As designers of fairly wet spaces, you have a responsibility to learn about what conditions foster mold,” she says. Mold usually enters interior spaces in two ways: through leaks in exterior walls that allow water to seep in behind drywall with no way to air out and dry — mold thrives in that environment; and through leaks or condensation around pipes.

Lighting. One easy way to green up your projects, Bonda says, is to switch from incandescent to fluorescent bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs use less energy and produce less heat so air conditioning doesn't have to work as hard to cool the room. “Now compact fluorescents are made in many shapes and sizes and are also dimmable,” she says. “There is no reason to use incandescents.”

Appliances. Use only Energy Star-rated appliances ( www.energystar.gov), Bonda advises. The ratings are available for anything that plugs in, she says, and more products are added every year. “You don't need permission from your client to do this; just avoid recommending anything that is not Energy Star-rated.”

Water reduction. Use low-flow toilets, showerheads, and faucets, as well as water-saving dishwashers and washing machines. Customers who want the trendy new multiple showerheads, Bonda says, usually just want better water pressure. “Putting in multiple showerheads will not contribute to good water pressure,” she points out. Consider using showerheads with aerators that seemingly increase the flow of water. “They do not use more water, but the user is happier.” — For more information about MasterClass seminars, visit www.nkba.org.