By Mark Johnson

This is our first post from Guest blogger Mark Johnson. Mark is an NKBA-certified kitchen designer, a fellow at the American Institute of Architects and a member of FAIA, CKD, and AIBD. We asked Mark to do a blog series about his experience at Greenbuild this year. For more from Mark, follow him on Twitter @MarkJohnsonFAIA.

This year’s Greenbuild show was their 10th, and USGBC’s momentum is still going strong! Downtown Toronto was the location, their first venue outside the U.S. The show was aptly titled – Greenbuild Next – and attendees were asking the question, “what’s next”, as the sustainability movement matures and Greenbuild morphs to meet the challenges of a new decade.

23,000 attendees enjoyed compelling new products from hundreds of innovative exhibitors. As an architect, I’m always on the lookout for new green products and I especially enjoy breathtaking booth designs. The ‘jaw dropper’ for me this year was Kohler’s booth, a departure for them and one reason I spent a half hour exploring its content.

The Kohler Booth at Greenbuild

Kohler is recognized for white, minimalist booth design at major trade shows. Yet their Greenbuild booth was constructed entirely of reclaimed barn wood, a second life for a Wisconsin farm building that delicately referenced their rural beginnings in Kohler, Wisconsin. They get an A+ for creativity and sustainable design in my book. I’m not the only one who thought so; Greenbuild awarded Kohler a “Green Exhibitor Award”.

The booth design is a series of themed pavilions, showcasing either a building type or an actual remodel & retrofit project.  The integration of historic architecture, Kohler’s fine products, and a sustainable booth design completely won me over…as if I wasn’t a Kohler fan already!

About the sustainable Proximity Hotel

The case study pavilion I found most fascinating is the Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, North Carolina. The project is a remodel and retrofit of a historic hotel that is LEED-certified and recognized as the greenest hotel in America. The Kohler faucets and fixtures specified for this project saved over 2 million gallons of water in the first year! Impressive by any standard.

The Crowd learning about the LEED Platinum Certified Proximity Hotel.

I found every detail of the booth design fun to explore. Examples are the adaptive reuse of Kohler shipping palates for walkways and seating, and the seating pads made of curtain fabric recycled from an old movie theatre. Clever, inexpensive, and green ideas!

Pallet seats in the Kohler Booth

Check back for part two of this series, where I’ll be showing some of the cool products I spotted at Greenbuild.


Since 1873, Kohler Co. has been improving the level of gracious living among its customers by providing exceptional products and services for the home. As a recognized global brand, Kohler leads the way in design, craftsmanship and innovation. Kohler's product offering spans across all price points, offering consumers a wide variety of options in kitchen and bath fixtures, faucets, and more.

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