Greenbuild International Conference & Expo Recharges Batteries

A group from GBRI recently attended the USGBC Greenbuild International Conference and Expo held in San Francisco during the week of November 12. USGBC is to be congratulated on its choice of conference location. San Francisco was perfect because the city has been a leader in green building design and construction. There are over 700 LEED certified projects and approximately 1,300 LEED registered projects in the San Francisco Bay Area. In fact, the conference was held in the Moscone Center which has a LEED Gold rating.

 Green practices are adopted by most San Francisco businesses.  For example, hotels, restaurants, and office buildings use a three-bin trash system – one for recyclables, one for compostables and one for landfill trash. The three bins were present at the conference, serving as a reminder that sustainability begins with each person.

Conferences like this can only be described as inspirational because it is a treasure trove of green philosophies and businesses devoted to making the world in which we live a healthier, more sustainable environment. It is a chance for those of us in the green industry to compare notes, showcase the latest products, services and designs, and unveil concepts that are still on the drawing board. It is impossible to attend a conference like this and not leave full of renewed enthusiasm for greening our communities.

 The conference hosted speakers, workshops, and thousands of booths. There were tours of green buildings around the city, and lots of time to network. Speakers included people who do a lot more than just talk about sustainability. They make it happen. For example, two keynote speakers were Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, NJ, renowned for his vision of sustainability through urban transformation, and David Kohler, President and CEO of Kohler Co., recognized as a leader in the development of water-saving fixtures. The expo enabled businesses representing every imaginable green product and service to network and display innovative products.

 No Apologies for Being Right

 There were two aspects of this show that stood out. First, it was the unapologetic theme of “We Are Right” about the future need of sustainable practices for society. You may agree or disagree, but there are too many people arguing against green design and building, when they could be spending their creativity and passion developing products and services that advance a green society. It was heartening to see so many political speakers like Cory Booker, George Pataki, Jerry Brown and others at the conference because government is very much a lead player in driving changes in consumer behaviors.  

 Second, getting a chance to talk to some of the expo participants is really what this convention was all about. Speakers are good. Workshops are good. Talking to the participants one-on-one is educational, interesting, and ideal. I had to the chance to visit a number of expo booths, and wish there had been more time because each one visited had something to teach me about sustainability and the practical aspects of actually bringing viable design and building practices to the market. In return, I was able to talk to people about the reasons GBRI believes the Green Bar Code directory it is developing is so important to the green industry.

 The Green Bar Code directory, a listing of green service providers or companies, will make it easy for people to access the type of quality businesses found at the USGBC conference. The equivalent of the traditional yellow pages, only green, the Green Bar Code will be available to all for free and in this economy, free is good.  The provider may list for as little as $99.00—which may be recouped by most companies in one sales transaction. 

An excellent example of an ideal list for the directory is conference attendant, Republic Services, a sister company of Allied Waste Services. From the corners of the nation, Republic Services employs 30,000 people and operates hundreds of hauling divisions, transfer stations, and recycling centers. The company has instituted business practices that promote cost-effective waste and recycling solutions, which are promoted to the 2,800 communities in which the company operates. Unlike a builder that constructs a green building and then moves on the next project, companies like Republic Services are in a unique position to promote sustainability over and over and over again to millions of people. Jason Klapper, Construction Waste Specialist and LEED AP, so eloquently commented, “Sustainability is a priority for our 10 million customers nationwide to thrive.”  What could be more true?

 Moving on to another booth, I came across Esri. This is a company that inspires people to positively impact their future through a 

deeper geographic understanding of the changing world around them. The company caught my eye because it proves that sustainability crosses industries and can be approached in non-standard or unexpected ways. Offering a virtual globe that uses a geographic information system (GIS), Esri helps governments and communities make better decisions about their locales based on mapped changes. Sustainability is not just about constructing buildings or maintaining clean stormwater systems. John Young is the Business Lead for Federal Real Property and Facility Management at Esri, Inc. in Charlotte, N.C. He spoke at the International Conference about using GIS as a tool that can visually engage stakeholders working in sustainable asset/building management.

 LEED is in the Driver’s Seat

 These are only two of the many interesting companies who presented at the conference. It was clear that LEED professionals are the people driving real sustainability forward. They are not just talking about it or constructing buildings they walk away from. The conference participants and attendees are the creators, innovators, designers, and forward-thinkers who are persistently working on new products, services, technology, materials, and concepts.

The earth does not stand still at any moment and neither do the dedicated professionals trying to protect it. Fortunately, those of us who work here at GBRI had the good fortune of not only attending this conference, but were able to get our sustainable batteries recharged as a result of the networking. It only gets greener from here. It would be nice if everyone could afford to attend the annual conference, but the travel costs, registration fees, and exhibit space rental fees, puts it out of reach of many businesses or just enables them to attend one time. That is precisely why GBRI developed the Green Bar Code directory. It is an affordable “expo” that vendors and customers in any location spanning our great universe can access 365 days a year.

 What is recharging your personal sustainable energy right now? What is on your green drawing board? What direction would you like to see sustainability take?

 Think about it…

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