Monday, December 7, 2009

Still seeing green after Greenbuild

It’s been more than three weeks since I returned from the Greenbuild International Conference & Expo in Phoenix, but the green dust certainly hasn’t settled. Maybe it’s all the press coverage about President Obama’s upcoming visit to the climate summit in Copenhagen, or maybe it’s the news that my alma mater was just named America’s Greenest Campus (Let’s go Maryland! *clap* *clap*), but I just keep thinking efficiency and seeing sustainability. And not even hacked e-mails and re-invigorated global warming skeptics can rain on my green parade.

While we (“we” being that universal we, meaning you, me, the lamppost, the industry, the nation, the world) still have a long way to go, I can’t help feeling excited and motivated about the environmental and energy-conscious strides that we have taken, particularly in the construction industry, just in the last decade.

These strides were made very apparent during a conversation I had at Greenbuild with Eddie Bugg, director of sustainable solutions, Kawneer Co., Norcross, Ga., about how the industry has “greened.” Kawneer has been involved with the U.S. Green Building Council and the Greenbuild conference since its inception, Bugg said. “We’ve been here since there were only early adopters. When USGBC hosted the first conference, we were there, with a card table and a couple of table-top samples.”

According to the conference catalog, the first Greenbuild was held in Austin, Texas, in 2002, and hosted a little more than 4,000 people. “Back then, we were an emerging movement, a collection of dedicated, passionate people who knew we were coming together around a good idea,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of the USGBC, in the catalog. Attendance topped 27,000 at the recent Phoenix Greenbuild.

“Year after year, the number of exhibitors and attendees grows,” Bugg said. “This used to be considered a niche market. People weren’t sure it would stay around. During the last two years, it’s become evident that green is mainstream. … The direction that architects are going, the direction that the building industry is going, it is right in line with where Greenbuild is going.”

The mainstreaming of the green movement was emphasized by the USGBC’s theme for this year’s Greenbuild, Main Street Green: Connect to the Conversation. Hopefully we’re now at the point where individuals and companies have to decide to get on board or get out of the way. And from the large number of glass and glazing companies on the Greenbuild floor—about 100 by my count—it looks like the industry is getting on board.

Read more coverage from Greenbuild.

--By Katy Devlin, commercial glass & metals editor

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