January is a wonderful time of the year. It represents new beginnings, hope, and optimism. For builders, architects, and contractors, it also raises the hope that this year might bring to light some truly innovative products and materials that can be incorporated into their homes. We’ve done some digging and found a number of selections that hold some promise.

The economy is still floundering, so research and development efforts have been few and far between. But some companies are still moving forward. Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork is introducing its Ultra Series Terra-Span lift-and-slide doors, which measure 10 feet tall. The doors, offering a design pressure rating of 45, meet wind zone 4 testing standards. Akzo Nobel Paints, which produces the ubiquitous Liquid Nails brand, has added an acoustical sealant that reduces sound transmission in various types of wall systems. And Hurd Windows and Doors debuts its new Ultra-R direct-set window that uses Heat Mirror technology to achieve an impressive center of glass R-value of 20; the window’s total unit R-value is 9.

A few of the products listed will be at this year’s International Builders’ Show in February; we’ve included their booth numbers. Check them all out, though, to see if any of them will make your year a little brighter.