Five Green Trends for 2011

1 million expected for NYC ball drop

The New Year’s Eve Ball is lit at the top of a 141-foot flagpole over Times Square during a test run Thursday, December 30, 2010, in New York. The ball was powered by 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDs.

At 11:59 p.m. on December 31 the New Year’s Eve Ball began descending in Times Square to ring in the new year. This ball, however, was different from those of previous years. It contained 32,256 LED lights.

We’ve explained before how LEDs help the environment. Was this ball a sign of an environmentally friendly year to come? This CAP cross-post identifies are five green trends you can expect to see in 2011:

1. “Eco-superior” products. Going green is becoming more popular, but consumers have more of an incentive to buy “eco-superior” products: products that aren’t just eco-friendly, but also perform better than their nongreen counterparts. According to, you can expect to see numerous brands start “taking aim right at the heart of traditional alternatives: stressing the superior quality and design, increased durability and/or lower running costs of products.”

2. More accurate green claims. Back in October, the Federal Trade Commission proposed revisions to its “Green Guides,” in order to help marketers “avoid making misleading environmental claims.” The guides advise marketers to move from using blanket, general green claims to more defined statistics to help consumers more clearly understand products’ environmental impacts.

3. Luxury vehicles and alternative mobility. We all know about the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf, but we don’t often hear about green luxury vehicles. That will change this year, as Mercedes-Benz and Bentley both plan to offer luxury cars with smaller engines, and Porsche and BMW advance plans for plug-in hybrids. Car sharing will likely also grow, as auto manufacturers start offering car-sharing programs, in addition to individuals utilizing peer-to-peer share programs like Spride.

4. Green travel. Delegates at September’s European Ecotourism Conference in Estonia discussed some of the green travel trends they expect for 2011. One is the concept of “voluntourism,” or volunteer tourism, which is expected to be integrated more into green travel programs. Zero-carbon hotels are also opening in Europe, and there are plans for green hotels in Asia as well.

5. Green building. Finally, green building consultant Jerry Yudelson predicts an increase in buildings’ use of solar power, and that designers will institute more ways to reduce buildings’ water consumption in response to the global water crisis. He adds that U.S. green building will continue to thrive under the Obama administration, as “announcements of a commitment to a minimum of LEED Gold for all new federal projects and major renovations” represent a focus on going green in the executive branch.

A CAP cross-post

4 Responses to Five Green Trends for 2011

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    We certainly need to fact check “green” claims, but I’m not sure that FTC is qualified to do it. I suggest organizations such as Seattle’s Environmental Research Institute, which pioneered LCI and a few other things.

    For example, timber companies destroy Applachian forests on 20 year rotations, producing trees that are worthless for lumber but can be chopped up into chipboard for OSB. The timber companies then call this “green” because the trees can only produce basically fiber waste products. Nobody calls them on it, including the Big Green organizations, and sometimes they even manage to get FSC certification.

  2. Dickensian American says:

    Still conspicuously absent from this list is any real challenge to the dominance of planned obsolescence in our culture. I don’t say “our economy” because I think a big part of the culture deadlock lies in our roles as “consumers” in “our economy” trumping our roles as citizens, persons or members of our society, culture and species.

    One of my biggest pet peeves as of late is how rapidly most textiles, much less the clothing they are crafted into, fail. For countless generations, we sought to make things as well made as possible and last as long as possible. This was one of the metrics of success for trades and technologies. With out solid goods and reliable infrastructure, our ancestors would be naked in the cold.

    But for the past 60 years, we have let “market forces” (read: unwise short term profit drive decisions) increasingly erode all of these traditions and standards that served us so well for so many generations. Why is it that the average garment from the gap or H&M or any given store lasts for less than 2-3 years of light wear and tear? Why do we make clothing that no farmer around the world would be able to work in for more than 2-3 weeks? The textiles are weak. The thread is weak. The stitching is less than it should be. etc. etc. Can the same criticisms be leveled against our tools? Our motors? Our walls and roofs?

    When peak oil and other resources really kick in, we will once again begin to recognize the true values of a tool or garment or home that last. Unfortunately, I don’t see how the sheer willpower of an admitted social minority comprised of climate hawks and eco-freaks can shift this particular paradigm. And I suspect, sadly, that planned obsolescence which keeps the engine of late stage capitalism running at high speed is also incredibly wasteful in terms of resources and heavy in terms of carbon footprint.

  3. Dickensian American says:

    ack so many typos above. still sipping my morning joe.

  4. Karmel Korn says:

    This year the spending binge will finally get confronted. At some point, projects will be forced to show savings and profit and not mere feel good speculation.