Road Report: Greenbuild Conference

bald_eagle Several Global Green staffers attended the Greenbuild Conference and Expo in Toronto last week and we put together some notes and observations from Ted Bardacke, Gina Goodhill, Mary Luevano, Hagu Solomon, and Walker Wells.

Words

Impressive opening plenary with Thomas Friedman about how solving the climate challenge and creating innovative efficiency strategies are fundamentally part of the America can-do spirit of creativity.

Overheard from a developer of multi-family housing: "LEED Certified [buildings] are basically a no-brainer today."

For green building to get to the next level, the financial community needs to recognize the inherent value of LEED.

Green building and energy efficiency: strategy for the environment AND jobs.

Green building lesson in physics: public investment and early adopters is the pull, regulation and changing standards is the push.

Our Sessions

Ted Bardacke taught a full-day class on LEED for Neighborhood Development.

Walker Wells moderated a panel at the Affordable Housing Symposium on sustainable neighborhoods in Toronto, Boston, and the Jacobs Center in San Diego (we are assisting there, helping them earn LEED ND).

Walker Wells and Hagu Solomon were facilitating mini-charrettes as part of the Affordable Housing Symposium.

Ted Bardacke spoke on Greenbuild panel about innovations in LEED ND. Take-away: What's next as the system evolves?

Thoughts from Walker

Great session on upcoming changes to the LEED Rating system. Take-away: Better alignment of credits with environmental benefits….

Living Building Challenge workshop: It's gaining momentum. So, who wants to work with Global Green to create the first Living Affordable Housing project?

Thoughts from Ted

  1. The Living Building Challenge is gaining traction and legitimacy as a challenger to LEED Platinum status. Its focus on net zero energy, net zero water, elimination of PTCs (Persistent Toxic Chemicals) and other crucial imperatives make it measure up to the enormous environmental challenges we face. Its focus on actual performance — you can't get certified until you have operated the building for at least a year -- makes it rigorous and has design teams focusing on operational issues and how people will use a space as well as building design.
  2. More and more people are realizing that many solutions to our environmental and social issues are best faced at the scale of the district or the neighborhood rather than the building. This is something Global Green has been focusing on for several years through its leadership in developing and implementing the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system. As a consensus forms around this issue of scale, we are seeing a corresponding consensus that new types of neighborhood organizations need to be formed.  These organizations might be neighborhood-scale micro-utilities, organize rainwater capture and management trading regimes, or install and maintain urban agricultural infrastructure. Whatever their function, they will need a representative governance structure and the ability to raise, spend, collect, and manage money.
  3. Green building has often been cast as a win for everyone -- better for the environment, better for people, better for the fiscal bottom line. This makes it easy to support. But I also came away with the understanding -- gleaned from Amory Lovins, Thomas Friedman and Tom Paladino -- that if we are to win the green building challenge there are going to have to be losers. These losers are primarily the coal and gasoline industries. These folks have no place in our wins. And as they lose, if they lose, we should not underestimate how hard they will go down fighting and how many much money they will spend and lies they will tell in order to continue their wasteful and destructive ways.

Also Worth Noting

Schneider Electric's booth had an American bald eagle (above photo) from the Earth Rangers Center in Ontario, a nonprofit that teaches kids about wildlife and conservation.

Toronto streets had lots of bike-sharing stations, and "watch for bikes" stickers on taxi mirrors.