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It’s Easy Being Green: Five Green Trends for 2011

SOURCE: AP/Mary Altaffer

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.

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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? Here 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 trendwatching.com, 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.

Read more articles from the “It’s Easy Being Green” series

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