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Green products' money-saving value stressed at Miami conference

While many consumers moan that the economy is in the crapper, Mark Gunia spent much of Wednesday showing off a toilet in a ballroom at Jungle Island. It looked like any other white toilet except it had two buttons on top.

One was labeled half-flush – "for liquids," Gunia said. The other was full-flush – "for solid wastes." Plenty of folks studied the toilet, some remarking that such fixtures have long been common in Europe, but rare in the United States.

Gunia, a vice president of Alterna, a West Miami–Dade company selling sustainable home products, was one of 60 vendors pushing their wares at Gateway to Green, a symposium for green businesses promoting the concept that environmental considerations make sense even in a recession.

"This is not a trend – it's here to stay forever," said Alan Ojeda, a Miami developer whose Rilea Group is constructing a precertified green office building at 1450 Brickell Ave. Energy efficiencies not only make such buildings cheaper for such things as air conditioning, but also enhanced long–term real estate value. And "it's the right thing to do for all of us."

Many vendors maintained that going green could save money rather quickly. Ray Maldonado of Lanco & Harris of Orlando said his company's roof coating could reduce heat levels inside buildings by 20 percent. He said Lanco's business is up this year, because customers are opting for a coating as a cheaper alternative to a new roof.

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