Though attendance at this year’s International Builders’ Show was once again lighter than the boom times of a few years ago, many manufacturers and pros reported a greater feeling of optimism around the show floor. Foot traffic may have been down, but quality meetings were widespread. In workshops, industry experts encouraged creative responses to market demands for smaller floor plans as buyers turn their backs on the McMansion. “Flex space” was a popular phrase to address size constraints while still providing high style and a feeling of family, comfort, and security.

Hand in hand with this trend was the increased focus on green building and sustainability. But while green products once again dominated the marketing messages of exhibitors, a greater number of manufacturers appear to be recognizing the need to substantiate environmental claims. Niche technologies are making their way to the mainstream, as several well-known brands showcased new offerings in wind and solar energy.

Here are six finds from the floor; for additional coverage of IBS products and educational sessions, visit

EARTHTRONICS. By harvesting energy from the tips of the turbine blades, rather than through a mechanical center gear, the Honeywell/WindTronics wind turbine starts producing energy at 2 mph and remains operational through 42 mph, the company says, unlike traditional turbines that start generating energy at 7.5 mph and shut down at 29 mph. The unit can produce 2,000 kWh a year in Class 3 winds and 2,752 kWh a year in Class 4 winds while operating at a height of 33 feet. 866.632.7840.   

INNOVIDA. Consisting of polyurethane sandwiched between composite structural skins, InnoVida panels offer an R-value of 14.6 for a 2?1/2-inch unit and 23.7 for a 4-inch unit. Like traditional SIPs, the panels are factory-made to fit the specific structure, reducing waste and speeding up installation; they can be covered with any finish. Designed for use as walls, roofs, floors, and foundations, InnoVida panels are waterproof, hurricane-resistant, and fire-resistant, says the maker. 786.837.7200.  

DELTA. The Linden pull-out kitchen faucet offers users a choice of a water-saving flow or a traditional flow. When turned on, the unit operates at 1.5 gallons per minute for needs such as hand washing; a push button on the spout can be depressed for a faster flow for tasks such as pot filling. Linden features a transitional style, with clean lines and a flared wand. The company’s Diamond Seal technology reduces leak points and simplifies installation. 800.345.3358.  

CERTAINTEED. EnerGen solar roofing features Uni-Solar thin-film photovoltaic laminates that install with no roof penetrations and lie flush with traditional asphalt shingles for a streamlined appearance. The solar roofing generates 0.5 kW per square (100 square feet). Designed for installation by traditional roofing contractors, the system requires no rooftop penetrations and comes in pre-engineered kits with all components. 800.233.8990.   

 DOW. Powerhouse solar shingles, which will be available in 2011, install flat against the roof deck in the same manner as an asphalt shingle. For simplified installation, electrical circuitry is integrated into each shingle and the shingles link to each other via plug-style connectors and then require only minimum roof penetration to connect to the home. Though specific specs are not yet available, Powerhouse is expected to provide about 40% to 80% of a typical home’s energy needs. 800.441.4369.  

LEVITON. The Decora CFL Slide Dimmer detects whether a bulb is an incandescent or a CFL, determines high- and low-end dimming capabilities, and adjusts the dimming range accordingly, the maker says, optimizing the performance of dimmable CFLs versus standard dimmers. The CFL Slide Dimmer brings the bulb to full illumination for warm-up, then draws it down to the indicated setting. It allows for a broader dimming range, helping to improve ambiance. 800.323.8920.