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KBIS showcases innovative, green products

June 7, 2010
CHICAGO — The Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, April 16-18, drew more than 37,000 attendees and approximately 700 exhibitors, all converging at McCormick Place here, to learn about and showcase the newest and most innovative products, including many green products.
Oscar Einzig Photography.

CHICAGO — The Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, April 16-18, drew more than 37,000 attendees and approximately 700 exhibitors, all converging at McCormick Place here, to learn about and showcase the newest and most innovative products, including many green products.

As usual Kohler had a huge booth and a dizzying array of products on display. A couple designs, however, stood out. A common question many people have asked Kohler Faucets since the introduction of the Karbon articulating kitchen faucet two years ago is: “Will this be available in the bathroom?” It is now. Like its larger kitchen counterpart, the Karbon lavatory faucets allow the user to position the spout right where they want it and then have both hands free for grooming tasks. All Karbon bath models feature a multi-function sprayhead. The standard stream is for grooming use, while the more powerful spray option is ideal for rinsing and cleaning the sink. With its smaller profile, the lavatory faucet can be used as a secondary kitchen faucet. The Karbon faucet gets its name from carbon fiber.

The second product that stood out was the new Empress Bouquet pattern that is available on select lavatories and toilets. The Empress Bouquet pattern offers a modern interpretation of 18th century Chinese print work. Its floral motif and gold and metallic detailing are featured on a collection of lavatories and toilets. Each fixture showcases a slightly different variation of the pattern, creating a one-of-a-kind piece. The white base of the Kohler Empress Bouquet pattern allows for integration into many bathroom décors.

Rheem Water Heating has expanded its line of hybrid heat pump water heaters with a new 40-gal. model designed for smaller households with a lower hot-water demand. The new Rheem HP-40 hybrid meets Energy Star requirements; certification is pending. The unit will be available in early June. Like the 50-gal. model unveiled in 2009, the new HP-40 hybrid offers an Energy Factor (EF) of 2.0, or more than twice the energy efficiency of a standard electric storage water heater. As a result, the new water heater qualifies for a federal tax credit as well as many state and utility rebates and incentives. With its 21-in. diameter, the new model boasts the same profile as its 50-gal. counterpart, but it’s 10-lbs. lighter and 10-in. shorter, with an overall height of 65.5-in. The HP-40 has 2.5-in. thick, non-CFC foam insulation and the hot- and cold-water and condensate drain connections (all ¾-in. N.P.T.) are on the side of the water heater, rather than on the top, for easier installation and maintenance.

Delta Faucet displayed its Traditional Shower System, designed to provide accessible showering to a wide range of users. The Traditional Shower System expands Delta Faucet’s offering of universal design bathing and showering systems. The center grab bar also serves as a slide bar for the handshower. At 60-in. x 34-in., the Traditional Shower System fits into a standard bath/shower alcove. Four shelves, two footrests and an available flip-up seat add to the shower’s ease of use. A 48-in. x 34-in. unit is also available. With a 2-in. threshold, the Traditional Shower System provides easy access to users of many ages and abilities. The Leland TempAssure 17T Series shower valve maintains consistent water temperature within ±3.6º F. Also among the accessible designs, a 60-in. Delta Transfer Tub offers a comfortable, accessible bathing experience for all users. A flip-up bench allows bathers to sit at a comfortable height that makes it easy to get in and out. The bench can be removed completely, allowing the Transfer Tub to be used like a conventional bath/shower unit. Ergonomic handles positioned on the sides of the tub provide stability and assistance during entering and exiting the tub. A backrest molded into the tub basin adds comfort. A bump-out transfer area on the edge of the tub allows for easy transfer in and out of the tub, and provides an area for caregivers to sit.

TOTO showcased its Double Cyclone Flush technology, a clean, green flushing system, which saves money, water and time cleaning the toilet. When a Double Cyclone toilet is flushed, three actions occur almost simultaneously: the primary nozzle, located at the back of the bowl, fires a high-speed stream of water that scours the rim and starts the water’s cyclone action. Almost immediately, a second water nozzle, behind the first, fires another high-speed stream that provides 360 degrees of cleansing. Then, at the same time, a siphon jet harnesses the accelerating power of this rotation cyclone of water for waste removal at the 1.28-gpf. Another feature of the technology is the toilet’s concave rim through which high-speed water jets travel, cleansing the rim and bowl every time the toilet is flushed. The rim and bowl are also coated with SanaGloss, the company’s nano-technology glaze. When protected by SanaGloss, the water rinsing the toilet bowl and rim when flushed eliminates invisible organisms and removes stains, residue, scaling and lime buildup. The Supreme II, Carolina II, Carlyle II and Vespin II are the newest Double Cyclone toilets.

Gerber unveiled a line of 1.28-gpf High Efficiency Toilets that are just coming on the market. The Avalanche 1.28 LS with a Fluidmaster Pro fill valve with Leak Sentry, will be available in July. The Avalanche is also available in June as a one-piece comfort height model with an elongated seat, but the shape and design of the toilet allows it to fit in the same space as a round front model. The Viper 1.28 is available in June and the Maxwell 1.28 will be available in July. The Maxwell features a large water surface to keep the bowl clean.

Niagara Conservation displayed the Stealth, an ultra-high-efficiency toilet, which is EPA Water Sense certified and has the ability to achieve a flush using 0.8-gpf. Activated by pressing the flush push button, Stealth technology clears all waste in the toilet bowl, eliminating the need for double-flushing or dual-flush systems. The patented hydraulic and water-saving technology behind Stealth involves a combination of air and water working in unison, helping to deliver a cleaner and more reliable flush. Also, because Stealth technology maintains pressure in the toilet’s trapway instead of the tank, it produces a quiet flush without residual noise. A three-part Stealth System is also on the market, featuring the Stealth toilet, a high-efficiency, high power showerhead with three flow options and an aerator.

Bemis Manufacturing Co. held an event the night before KBIS opened, at the Museum of Science and Industry, to introduce a redesign of its plastic toilet seat, now available with its traditional Top-Close hinge, as well as a premium version that incorporates features from commercial and residential product lines. Features include the STA-TITE Seat Fastening System, the WhisperClose with EasyClean and Change, and DuraGuard. The STA-TITE system, which eliminates loose seats while speeding up installation times, developed for the commercial market, eliminates the problem of loose, shifting toilet seats with a fastener that promotes easy installation and ensures the correct tightness needed to keep seats securely fastened without risking bowl damage from over-tightening. WhisperClose hinge technology eliminates slamming of the ring and cover, allowing the ring and cover to close quietly and conveniently without the risk of pinching fingers while the EasyClean and Change system allows quick, easy removal for cleaning or replacing a seat. The seat can be lifted off with a simple twist of the hinge cap while the mounting bolts stay in place. DuraGuard, an antimicrobial that helps inhibit the growth of stain and odor-causing bacteria that forms on surfaces, is now offered in the premium version of the newly designed seat. Both seats are now available in retail and wholesale showrooms under the Bemis, Mayfair and Church brands in round and elongated sizes to fit all manufacturers’ toilet bowls.

Moen showed off its ioDIGITAL user interface that gives consumers the ability to set and maintain water temperature and flow with electronic precision for three applications: vertical spa, shower and Roman tub. LED indicators flash until the requested settings are achieved. Each LED on the temperature indicator represents a precise temperature range, which allows the consumer to adjust the exact temperature to their liking. If water is turned on in other parts of the home, ioDIGITAL will virtually eliminate any noticeable fluctuation in water temperature. The LEDs will alert the consumer if the hot water supply happens to run low. Users may program up to four different presets settings into memory. ioDIGITAL technology is powered by an electronic valve that manages the hot and cold water supply. This valve can be located up to 30-ft. from the tub or shower. The controls have an optional remote control. The roman tub control will fill the tub precisely to the desired level.

The new Grohe Rainshower Rainbow Collection is taking the typical shower from chrome to colorful. Considered part of Grohe’s “Next Generation” of Rainshower fixtures, the collection is available in three unique silhouettes — “Icon,” a donut-shaped hand shower, “Solo,” a round profile and “Eco,” an elongated adaptation. Currently available in MoonWhite with EcoGreen or chrome, the showerheads also will soon be available in vibrant blue, purple, pink, red, orange and yellow options. Each hand shower also is fitted with the new Grohe SprayDimmer — a small lever that allows users to control their water flow with one finger. The SprayDimmer provides additional water savings — from the standard 2.5 GPM flow rate — by reducing the overall water volume.

Alsons Corp. previewed its new five-spray In2ition Two Showers in One. The showerhead combines a hand-held shower, featuring five spray settings — including three massage options and an aerated “champagne” spray — with a fixed showerhead that provides the ultimate coverage from a wide, 8-in. spray. It includes a pause control button that reduces water flow to a trickle, saving both water and energy. The system offers consumers the option to use the hand shower and showerhead separately or together. Its integral three-way diverter features an easy-turn lever redirecting water from the fixed showerhead to the hand held, or allowing both to operate at one time. The hand shower simply slips into position, and is easily removed.

Hansgrohe announced the introduction of the iBox Universal Plus Rough-In Valve. The iBox Universal Plus accommodates two mixing technologies, thermostatic and pressure balance, enabling many installation possibilities, such as thermostatic plus Quattro Diverter for three functions, such as a custom shower system or pressure balance plus Trio Diverter for two functions, such as a showerhead and a handshower. Hansgrohe also displayed the Puravida line of showers, handshowers, and lav faucets. One product, the 150 AIR 3-Jet hand-shower features a state-of-the-art five-finger massage at a hand click — the EasyClick spray selector. Hansgrohe also introduced its very first line of specially configured beverage faucets, designed to work in conjunction with the Zuvo Water filtration system.

Elkay introduced a line of Gourmet faucets to complement its Gourmet kitchen sink offering. The faucets are available in Chrome, Brushed Nickel and Oil Rubbed Bronze, in both a high-sized (12 13/16-in. overall height) and mid-sized (10 5/16-in. overall height) faucet base within the packaging, providing the homeowner with the flexibility to choose the height that works best for their specific installation. Featuring a 110-degree swivel spout combined with a pull-out faucet, both Gourmet faucets are available in a low-flow option, come with dual-spray options, an anti-tangle stainless steel hose, a ceramic disc cartridge, and an optional matching soap dispenser.

Aquatic displayed a collection of tub and shower combinations, including a bowed front gelcoat tub/shower enclosure that fits into a standard size alcove; a four-piece shower system for either new construction or remodeling that fits into a 60-in. x 34-in. space; and skirted 60-in. Cooper tubs. Aquatic also showed its Ava accessible bath with automated door that lowers to open and rises to close. The Ava is also available in whirlpool or air-bath models.

Symmons introduced its Museo Collection contemporary faucets and fittings. The collection includes a widespread lavatory faucet with a 9-in. high spout, roman tub faucet, hand spray, and a tub/shower system. The collection is available in chrome, satin nickel and polished graphite. The new polished graphite finish is a shiny, reflective finish that falls in between dark gray and black. Polished graphite faucets can come in either solid color or with chrome accents.

At the Everpure booth, the new SPA-400 Drinking Water Filtration System that ensures safer tap water for bathrooms and home spas was showcased. It reduces unwanted impurities such as lead, cysts, mold, chlorine taste and odor, and oxidized sulfides from drinking water while retaining healthy minerals. The SPA-400 delivers water at a consistent 2.2 GPM. It is also simple to swap the filter with Everpure’s quick-change filter cartridge system. Also displayed was the PBS-400 Prep Sink and Wet Bar Water Filtration System, designed to improve taste while safeguarding against unwanted contaminants. The system mounts under countertops and connects to existing faucets, delivering 2.2 GPM. The main component of the system is its proprietary carbon fiber block, which improves taste and odor by removing contaminants such as chlorine while protecting against health impacting impurities such as cysts and lead. A special additive to control mineral buildup, producing crystal-clear, restaurant-quality ice for cocktails and iced refreshments is also in the system.

Panasonic Home & Environment Co. showcased its WhisperGreen Premium Ventilation fans. Designed for 4-in. ducts, the new generation 80 CFM models are quieter than its predecessors at less than 0.3 sone. The fans feature built-in variable speed controls that range from 0-130 CFM. Low speed controls on the 80 CFM models can be preset to 0, 30-70 CFM, and on the 130 CFM models 0, 50-110 CFM. Also included is a delay timer that can be preset up to 60 minutes. When the fan is activated, it boosts up to the speed of either 80 or 130 CFM. After a pre-determined time period, the fan returns to the preset low-speed operation. WhisperGreen models FV-08VKM2 and FV-13VKM2 feature Panasonic's SmartAction Motion Sensor. The motion sensor activates when someone enters the room to provide maximum airflow when the bathroom is in use, and when the occupant leaves the room the fan automatically returns to the pre-set low speed, making it ideal for people with disabilities and assisted living environments.

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