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Inappropriate Advertising on GBA

willymo | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

Just got an email from GBA touting “Steam Shower Wellness Experience” in any home. I really doubt this is a green product. Seems like just another opportunity to throw heat into the atmosphere and accelerate global warming.

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  1. onslow | | #1

    If the electricity powering the steam generator is provided by purely renewable sources then the impact on the environment is no more than making spaghetti or tea for dinner, albeit the scale is different. By your logic we should be looking to shut down Yellowstone National Park, declaring Iceland a global environment criminal and ending the scourge of Swedish sauna culture.

    In regard to any "green" virtues of bathroom design, your energy might be better spent observing the rather opulent use of space and glass by which one might (incorrectly?) infer the rest of the house design is less than energy and environment sensitive. Steam showers are a high dollar luxury to be sure, but they are not inherently harmful to the planet.

    The global catastrophe we face has multiple sources. Greedy first world nations and equally greedy and self indulgent populations have enabled and demanded the world we have now. A few thousand BTUs of steam are the very least of our concerns.

  2. mikebopf | | #2

    I agree with the original poster. I recently joined GBA Prime to determine ways to greatly reduce my energy usage as I've seen many excellent articles on the site. I was not expecting to receive advertisements for luxury, wasteful products. like "Mr. Steam".

    I have now unsubscribed from "Green Building Advisor Offers" by following the link at the bottom of the email. Hopefully, I won't be receiving any more similar advertisements. My guess is that this advert was more directed to the "Fine Homebuilding" aspect of the parent company, Taunton. I didn't realize that GBA was apart of this larger group, which makes less enthusiastic about them. I hope this is a one-time issue that has been fixed by changing my subscription preferences.

    1. Expert Member
      BILL WICHERS | | #4

      Maybe the steam shower uses less water compared to a regular shower? That would make it “green” in areas where freshwater is in short supply. It’s a trade off of more energy use to reduce water use in that case.

      Trade offs are common in the engineering world. I work with large telecom facilities that use massive amounts of energy, much of which is used for cooling. I like to use evaporative cooling towers to gain efficiency in the cooling plant. This means I’m using a LOT more water, but less energy, for the same amount of cooling. Since the facilities I work with tend to be in areas where water is cheap and plentiful, this can be considered a greener design. If I were to design a facility for a desert climate, I’d design for minimal water use and higher energy use. The best design choices are often dictated by the local conditions in the area of each project.

      It’s always important to consider the entire system and not any one part of it when making design decisions where the goal is to be as green as possible. If you focus on any one part to the exclusion of others, you may actually make your overall environmental impact worse. The same goes for any product that “saves” anything. Some geographic areas have shortages of certain things that others don’t, so you don’t want “one size fits all” products when you’re trying to optimize your design.


      1. willymo | | #6

        Hi Bill-

        I appreciate that "green" is a systemic question, and that something that uses less energy might use more water and vice-versa. However, "maybe the steam shower uses less water" is a little far fetched, especially given that water savings is not one of the claimed benefits.


  3. GBA Editor
    Kiley Jacques | | #3

    Hi William,

    I hear and share your concerns. I, myself, received that email, which was my first time hearing of the webinar (mbopf is right--it was a Fine Homebuilding-targeted effort). It was arranged unbeknownst to me, and I have since been digging into it. I want you and other readers to know that editorial integrity is highest on my list of priorities as a GBA editor. This situation has not gone unnoticed and conversations are in the works to prevent inappropriate ad materials from showing up on our site or in our correspondences with readers. It's sometimes difficult to walk the line when it comes to quality journalism and its needed sponsors but walk the line we must.

    1. willymo | | #7

      Kiley, thanks for the response, I appreciate that it's a fine line.

      1. mikebopf | | #8

        Agreed. There is definitely some overlap between Green Building and Fine Homebuilding since well-made products can last a long time and therefore be "green".

        Mike (formerly "mbopf")

  4. JC72 | | #5

    Missing those days when the Q and A forum was full of advertisements written in an Asian language?

  5. charlie_sullivan | | #9

    In the past, I have see ads on the GBA web site for products that the editors clearly don't endorse. I think there was an ad for radiant barriers showing up on the same page as an article in which Martin mercilessly tore apart the bogus claims of radiant barrier companies. My interpretation of that was positive--as a sign that editorial policy is truly independent and not influenced by ad sales. But I can also see that that isn't really a good look or a good thing for the industry to have GBA providing a platform for companies that are selling decidedly environmentally damaging products.

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