I am recovering this weekend from a visit to the USGBC Greenbuild International Conference and Expo 2009 which was held in Phoenix, Arizona this year. The event had activities, meetings, classes, tours and symposiums that went from Monday, Nov. 10 through Saturday Nov. 14. I attended a LEED Core Concepts class on Tuesday and then spent the following two days visiting the exhibit halls.
The first thing that impressed me was the facility in which the Expo was held. The newly opened Phoenix Convention Center is truly a beautiful structure that is very functional and easy to navigate. Its windows let in massive amounts of natural light, yet the classrooms and exhibit halls in which there is no natural light still provided a very pleasant environment in which to listen and learn. There were also ample amounts of very comfortable seating areas located throughout the building.
The next thing that impressed me was the excellent level of organization that the US Green Building Council (USGBC) staff and volunteers demonstrated. There were signs everywhere which gave instructions and directions. There was a constant and renewing supply of refreshments available outside the classrooms and inside the exhibit halls to revitalize the attendees when they became mentally and physically challenged from information overload and miles of walking the aisles of the exhibit halls.
What was eye-opening to me was the tremendous amount and variation of green building products and materials currently on the market that were shown by the 1,000 exhibitors at the Expo. I cannot think of one item or material that comprises a residence or commercial structure that was not represented there, and represented as having green content. For example, one product line that is very familiar to us in Jackson Hole is Rocky Mountain Hardware. Their complete line of bronze hardware contains 90 % recycled material. It is actually possible at this point in time to have a residence built entirely from materials that come from sustainable, recycled or recyclable materials.
The other thing that impressed me was the fact that it is getting easier to sort through the number of companies offering green products. For example, there is an organization called EcoScorecard (www.ecoscorecard.com) that allows you to locate companies whose products you require for your project, and create a personalized file on line for yourself or a client. The site also allows you to email this info. In this way one can compare products or services and then boil the list down to the sources that will be used for a project.
In a word, the number of exhibitors was overwhelming to me. However, as I went into the second day of visiting booths, the big picture began to form for me that there were a number of organizations, both for profit and not for profit that exist to certify, verify and sort out green products, as well as, educate and guide architects, builders, contractors, project managers, etc. on how to move forward with a green project.
After attending the LEED Core Concepts class and visiting the exhibitors at Greenbuild 2009, I am even more convinced than ever before that these green building technologies and practices are here to stay and that most homes built or renovated from this point forward will be influenced by them. Secondly, I feel even more committed in the pursuit of a LEED Green Associate accreditation so that I can be more knowledgeable to support and promote green practices and features in the land and residences that I list for sellers or find for buyers.