With over 300 state and local chapters across the US, the AIA has long served as the voice of the architecture profession. The AIA sets the standards for contract documents, provides web-based resources, serves as advocates for the profession and every year produces a conference attended by thousands of architects and designers. Architects come seeking insight into the developing technologies that will allow them to design and build smarter and better, as well as offering an opportunity to network with others in their field. Along with the conference they have an Expo, where several hundred exhibitors showcase their newest materials, products, and technologies. Over the past few years, the products have become increasingly focused on improving the sustainability of the built environment, with an eye on reducing dependencies on natural resources.

One manufacturer whose exhibits are always worth seeing and learning about is Caroma. With over 50 WaterSense labeled products, Caroma leads the industry for sustainable water-saving products. They had their ergonomically-efficient and award-winning Profile Smart toilet on display at their booth. This ingenious toilet has the unique distinction of having a built-in sink for maximum space flexibility. Fresh water is pumped to the sink while a user washes their hands and the water drains into the tank to be used for the next flush.

Caroma - Profile Smart

Another notable product on display at Caroma’s booth was the Invisi Series II Cube, also noted for its space-saving qualities. This toilet is consolidated into a minimalist once-piece unit and is wall-mounted to hide the plumbing. This toilet is also an ‘easy height’ toilet, which means that it can be installed high enough (up to 17″) to make it appropriate for anyone working on projects for the ‘Aging in Place’ population. This toilet is also WaterSense labeled.

WaterSense is a program of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formed to encourage manufacturers and consumers to adopt new technologies that reduce our consumption of fresh water. For a product to be awarded with the WaterSense label it must perform as well or better than counterpart products, be at least 20% more efficient than other products of that category, obtain measurable water savings, and are independently certified. It is comparable to the Energy Star and Leadership in Energy Efficient Design (LEED) programs in that WaterSense is voluntary and acts to incentivize consumers to seek out efficient technology. The program launched in 2006 and covers toilets, faucets and showerheads in addition to certifying homes and irrigation professionals.

Caroma - Invisi Series II Cube

Sustainable Solutions International presented their growing line of fluid faucets at the exposition, of which there are eight collections. While remaining committed to water efficiency, the new fixtures infuse contemporary design into their practical applications. In addition to the range of sink-mounted faucets, fluid has added wall-mounted fixtures to their Wisdom, Jovian, Utopia, Penguin, and Sublime collections. The soon-to-be launched Viola single lever wall mount is a highly anticipated extension of a collection that has become popular for its practicality and style.

fluid - Viola

Rapidly evolving technology is reducing our buildings’ pressure on increasingly precious natural resources, a key theme of AIA 2012. As a greater range of products are awarded WaterSense certification and energy-efficient product manufacturers vie for the attention of builders and property managers, we can see a shift in attitudes towards sustainable products. Green design is no longer the marketing tactic of yesterday, but the economic and competitive edge of tomorrow.