Every year before Greenbuild I go through the exhibitor listings to see which ones have products in GreenSpec. At the show, I first visit the booths that don't (we're already familiar with a majority of those, but in this growing industry there are always new contenders), and then make a second sweep to catch up with anything new from the ones that do. At past shows, I've run out of time before getting through the whole thing; quite a frustration. This year, we're thrilled have added Brent Ehrlich to our staff. He came to us from Green Builder magazine, and he'll be doing the bulk of the product research this year while I spend more of my time careening around newsily. BuildingGreen co-founder Alex Wilson is hoping to spend as much time as he can on the floor as well. (Keep an eye open for 'em. And check out our booth, #849). The graphic is a map of the exhibition hall; booths highlighted in yellow have GreenSpec listings. It's about half the floor—meaning that about half of the exhibitors at Greenbuild don't meet the standards established for GreenSpec. I find that encouraging... we're doing our job right. I also like seeing the mix of big and small booths that are highlighted: the little guys have equal standing with the giant corporations. (We don't charge for the review process, or for the listings themselves. It's all user-supported, with no manufacturer money muddying our clarity or compromising our judgments.) One of the many ways we find products for GreenSpec—in addition to tips from readers; monitoring magazines and internet forums; staying on top of press releases through many sources; and increasingly, direct contact by manufacturers—is trade shows. Greenbuild, having the specific focus that it does, is always of interest. That doesn't mean that every exhibitor at Greenbuild is automatically green, let alone a gimme for GreenSpec. All you have to do to get a booth in the exhibition is pay for it. Being green isn't the same as just saying you are, though there are always going to be people who try to get away with it... and as the green building movement increases in visibility and desirability, it's only going to get worse. Another thing that some people find a little confusing about GreenSpec is that it's not intended to be comprehensive. It's a best-of-the-best compendium based on our editors' assessments, a starting point for further research. There are green products that aren't in GreenSpec—that doesn't mean they're not ecologically sound, just that they aren't at the top of the heap, perhaps falling just short of our high standards. Or it may be that the entire field of a particular product type is pretty green, so there aren't really any standouts. And there's always the possibility that there's something we simply haven't heard about. (Let us know.) We also regularly up our standards as an industry improves, which leads to dropping products.
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