Sustainability Report: More Education Needed for Green K&B Design

Published: April 23, 2024

NKBA | KBIS, which represents 55,000 North American kitchen and bath industry professionals, has released its 2024 Sustainability Report. Composed of data generated from a survey completed by industry experts including designers, remodelers, kitchen and bath specifiers and more, the Sustainability Report provides a clearer understanding of where sustainability within the industry stands today and its outlook for the future.

While sustainability has become more prominent in kitchen and bath design, respondents agree there is significant room for growth in the industry. There are still barriers to the adoption of sustainable design, including a lack of knowledge among designers and the need for more sustainable product options that are both attractive and practical. Further education, inspiration and innovation are key to moving toward a more sustainable future in kitchen and bath design.

“There is no doubt that we are moving towards a new era when sustainable design practices will eventually become the norm for the K&B industry,” said Bill Darcy, Global President & CEO of NKBA | KBIS. “Designers and other industry pros, armed with information and insights about the many benefits of a sustainable design approach, are going to be the drivers of this change. The sooner we can bring K&B professionals fully up to speed on these benefits, the sooner they can effectively influence customers to embrace sustainable practices that are better for the planet, without sacrificing on quality or aesthetics.” The full sustainability report is available at with free access for NKBA members.

Top findings from the report include:

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  • Demand for sustainable design is led by homeowners and industry associations. Associations are the key drivers for demand, with US Green Building Council/LEED being seen as the most influential. Homeowners also drive demand, but just 23% of designers say their perspectives on sustainability were extremely/very influential in terms of homeowners’ end results. At the same time, 53% of designers agree that homeowners rarely or never bring up sustainability in design conversations, so it is up to designers to take the lead in these conversations.
  • Designers are most often integrating energy savers in sustainable kitchens and baths. The report finds that sustainable elements that are most popular for kitchen and baths are LED lighting (81% kitchen, 75% bath), water-conserving (55% bath)/energy efficient (59% kitchen) products and insulated windows/doors (46% kitchen, 42% bath). Conversely, smart faucets (29% kitchen, 27% bath) and recycled content in materials (21% kitchen, 16% bath) are integrated the least. Designers are most familiar with these sustainability practices: Retrofitting existing spaces, sourcing domestically and recycling/repurposing old materials. They are least familiar with: Reducing/eliminating greenhouse- gas emissions, sourcing materials requiring low energy to produce, and sourcing lightweight materials that reduce transportation impact.
  • Designer education and homeowner buy-in are top barriers to sustainability integration. Although designers believe that sustainability is important, less than half (43%) are well-informed on the subject of “sustainable design.” Of those surveyed, 60% say there is not enough information on sustainability in K&B design, also citing lack of credible information and the need for more practical and attractive product offerings. Additionally, 64% agree homeowner buy-in is the top barrier to integration due to cost, lack of information and skepticism about benefits.
  • Respondents agree the demand for sustainable design is on the rise. More than 70% of respondents agree the demand for sustainability in Kitchen and Bath design will increase in the next two years. Currently, only 32% of designers feel sustainable design is a “must have,” but designers expect their opinion to shift, with 54% agreeing it will become a “must have” in the future. The growth of sustainable design will be dependent on consumer awareness and demand, economic factors and manufacturers’ ability to provide more attractive, practical and competitively priced sustainable products.

Photo credit: Eric/Adobe Stock 

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