I'm not usually all that comfortable in front of a camera, but I had fun walking the Greenbuild 2008 Expo floor with a video crew from CNNMoney.com and Fortune magazine. We focused on four or five technologies in our tour, only two of which made it into the final two minute video (after a nice lead-in by Scot Horst of 7group). The CNN crew were looking for photogenic presentations, while I was looking for products I believe in to talk about. I'm pleased with how it came out in the end — though it would have been nice to cover a lot more stuff!
I promised participants at my GreenBuild session (Nutrition Labels for Products: Taking control of deciding what is green for you) a list of the efforts to bring clarity - through summaries, comparison tables, databases, whatnot - to the plethora of green building product certifications out there.
Greenbuild 2008 included the first ever Green Homebuilder's Day, a conference within the much larger overall conference. Homebuilder's Day welcomed old hands and newcomers to the field of green building, and the sessions were full. BuildingGreen organized the event, which coincided with the announcement of our soon-to-be-available, residentially oriented Green Building Advisor. That this day of educational sessions took place at all is a good sign for the future of houses in America and for softening their environmental impact. But in a general session on that topic, three speakers--Kevin O'Connor, host of "This Old House"; Tedd Benson of Bensonwood Woodworking Company; and Steve Kieran of architecture firm Kieran Timberlake--all expressed the view that American homebuilding is fundamentally flawed, and that the current mortgage meltdown is only one symptom among many. In a brief view of American housing in the last century, O'Connor rallied statistics to show that our houses have gotten bigger, more elaborately equipped, more sparsely inhabited, and, in recent times, less urban.
There were quite a few of these placards in booths on the expo hall floor at Greenbuild. They were nice-looking signs, and seemed to give some green cred. But... no. As it says on GreenFormat's website, " GreenFormat is open to any manufacturer that wants to list a product." Now, I don't want to dis GreenFormat — BuildingGreen is actually working with CSI on this project, which is sort of an offshoot of their MasterFormat system — but being listed doesn't actually mean anything. Product manufacturers pay a fee to be listed; they input their own data; and GreenFormat takes no responsibility for the relative greenness of anything listed. Their FAQ answers the question "What about greenwashing?" like this:
GreenFormat does not seek to determine whether a product is green.
Preston Koerner, over at Jetson Green, posted his "Top 10 Tidbits from Greenbuild 2008." Check out numbers 2, 4, 6, and 7:
2. The LEED AP Program undergoes major overhaul and the GBCI talks about LEED Green Associates, Legacy LEED APs, LEED AP Fellows, and the other family of LEED APs (ID+C, BD+C, Homes, O+M, and ND).This item links to a post our own Tristan Korthals Altes wrote here on BuildingGreen.com's blog.
4. BuildingGreen soft launches a new online information resource on residential green building and remodeling called GreenBuildingAdvisor.com.
Posted live from Greenbuild. Press release:
BuildingGreen, LLC, announces a new online information resource on residential green building and remodeling. GreenBuildingAdvisor.com, which will be officially launched at the International Builders Show in Las Vegas January 20, 2009, is an online suite of expert advice, proven construction details, and real-world tools for residential architects, builders, remodelers, and highly engaged homeowners. "GBA builds on the decades of experience and depth of the two partner companies that came together to create this resource: BuildingGreen, publisher of Environmental Building News and The Taunton Press, publisher of Fine Homebuilding," says BuildingGreen director of residential services Peter Yost. "In the works since the two companies joined forces in early 2008, GreenBuildingAdvisor.com will be the most comprehensive, useful, and easy-to-use online resource serving the residential green building community," noted Yost.
Posted live from Greenbuild. I ran into Michelle Moore, senior vp of policy & public affairs for the USGBC, yesterday. I asked her if she had any new thoughts on the "year of greenwash" prediction that she made during her visit to our offices last May — if the market and movement will survive the growing onslaught of confusion, misinformation, and misdirection. She was characteristically optimistic, expressing her opinion that the waters will be choppy for a while, but that the state of the world is well enough understood by enough people that truth and goodness will prevail. Yay for voices of hope.
Posted live from Greenbuild. I mentioned Armstrong Ceiling Systems' booth earlier, and the fact that they don't use any wood that's not FSC, and that they don't have any added formaldehyde in any of their products. I didn't mention that all their ceiling tiles are Class A fire rated, because it started to feel I was cheerleading. There's one other thing that I didn't mention. In February, they're slated to roll out a ceiling tile made with 46% jute. The stuff goes from seed to harvest in 90 days; talk about rapidly renewable. Like all their tiles, no added formaldehyde. There was a sample there... it looked and acted just like fiberglass. These tiles will have the standard scrim facing that most of their lines use. No word on what the line will be called.