(Editor’s note: Tom Crain is an Akron blogger who writes as Goin’ Green Guy.)
What’s the best news about Green Trends in 2015? Nearly every industry seems to be trending toward environmental responsibility, more companies than ever are setting up or adding to their in-house “greenprints” and most consumers are demanding green products and services at home and in their communities.
Here’s the “Top 6″ of what’s most trending for “Goin’ Green” in 2015:
1. Urban farming. In response to the swelling demand for fresh, local food, expect to see integrated gardening projects becoming commonplace. People are beginning to reject the idea that farming is necessarily a rural pursuit. Community gardens are cropping up in the ever-increasing vacant city lots from abandoned home teardowns. Backyard chickens and goats are taking up residence as a result of eased-up city ordinances. Food forests are taking root from increased funding and resources from community foundations and nonprofits.
In Akron, look for increased use of vacant lots in Summit Lake, West Hill and North Hill and around the Zoo for accelerated urban farming practices.
2. Increased sustainability in dining. The National Restaurant Association has identified sustainability measures as one of 2015’s hottest industry trends. Watch for more sustainable fish and seafood options, more responsibly-raised and free range meat and poultry served and more locally-grown ingredients added to major entrees. More restaurateurs will be partnering with local food advocacy groups to decrease food waste through composting, and conserving energy, water and other resources.
In Akron, look for increase in food waste partnerships between locally-owned restaurants and coffeehouses and composters.
3. Demand for natural and non-toxic materials. Already trendy, especially when locally- sourced and increasingly health-conscious. Think zero-VOC paints, low-VOC carpeting and natural fiber insulation. Materials such as limestone, alpaca wool and local pine lumber are increasing in demand. More and more options for sustainably produced, socially responsible clothing and furnishings are all around us. We’ll see green lines from both high-end designers as well as moderate retailers like Target’s Tom’s collection and BeGood.
In Akron, look for alpaca insulation available for home energy retrofits and increased consignment stores identifying natural materials and locally-made goods in their mix.
4. Living roofs and walls. These “lively” roofs and walls are becoming increasingly popular not only as green home features, but also cropping up as strip mall/commercial office building adornments. Besides conveying energy efficiency benefits and helping regulate surface water runoff, they protect a building’s interior from electromagnetic radiation. Green walls and roofs not only improve aesthetics, but also moderate temperatures around buildings.
In Akron, look for new terracing systems on hillside community gardens and living walls and green roofs on new and renovated commercial buildings.
5. Investment in greener homes. Smaller footprints and greener features ranked at the top of the trends list among National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) survey respondents with 74 percent saying their next homes are smaller; and 68 percent saying their homes will get greener in 2015—far surpassing the other trends on the survey. According to Green Home Builder magazine, homeowners are ready and willing to live in greener homes even for extra money. Builders are rising to the occasion with more energy-efficient new construction and water-conserving plumbing without premium pricing. Net zero, water smart and passive houses are increasing in demand. With the increasing affordability of solar power (and even geothermal and wind) for individual consumers, this type of home is likely to explode in popularity over the next year.
In Akron, look for a new Passive House to be built by a new home developer and more efforts in solar panel and wind (in the form of windpod) installations.
6. Cargo and e-bikes. There’s a revolution rolling down our city’s streets, and its symbol is cargo bicycles and e-bicycles (aka electric bicycle using batteries–many solar-powered). E-bikes utilize electric–even solar– batteries to offer a boost when needed for pedaling up hills. These two new-wave bicycle types are the No. 1 health trend identified for families in ParentMap. OK, the cargo bike is slow and heavy, but it transports several bodies on one vehicle and over-sized goods that once was the sole transport option belonging to the automobile. More than any development in the past few decades, these two bicycle transformations fulfill the promise of integrating bicycling into our daily lives.
In Akron, look for bicycle grocery delivery service to be offered by non-traditional grocers and more bicycle commuters mounting e-motors on their rear racks.
Recyclebank: The List: Green Trends to Watch For in 2015
ParentMap: #1 health trend for families
National Association of Homebuilders
Green Homebuilder magazine
National Restaurant Association