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Green Building Curmudgeon

Greenbuild 2009 Wrap-Up

Minimal swag, great ideas, and a little age discrimination

I found the tote bag made of reflective insulation and the walnuts with a logo printed on them particularly intriguing handouts this year. I'm not sure of my position on the companies, however. I did like Bluebeam Software's bamboo USB drive in the bamboo box, but I seem to have misplaced it in my travels.

Greenbuild 2009 in Phoenix was another great event. Unlike most of the construction industry, green building appears to be thriving. Attendance was slightly lower than last year but not by much, in contrast to other industry events that have seen their numbers plummet. Considering how many businesses are struggling or have closed, and the number of unemployed building professionals, the strength of this event is encouraging. Like last year, there was a dearth of good swag, a personal disappointment but a good thing for the environment, and even more unique USB drive options in lieu of printed material from vendors. The USB drive winner this year is Bluebeam Software, whose bamboo-shrouded drive came in a bamboo sliding-cover box, perfect for storing who knows what.

Unique swag

The non-USB-drive winners included logo-printed walnuts from Power to Pass, a LEED AP test preparation operation, and a tote bag from Low-E made of reflective housewrap. While I have heard nothing negative about these particular companies, both test-prep services and reflective insulation have uneven reputations, so maybe it isn’t surprising that they handed out some of the more interesting goodies.

Sessions and censoring

As for the seminars, I was only able to attend a few sessions due to other commitments, but I particularly liked the one on Living Systems Design. The panel raised interesting questions about the current state of green building, challenging the audience to think differently as we move forward. My favorite quotes from this session include “Sustainability as currently practiced is a slower way to die” and “Nature doesn’t understand property lines.” The residential summit was held in a hotel a few blocks from the main conference, which made visiting the show floor during breaks a bit of a challenge, but the event seemed to hum along nicely. My biggest disappointment was when I lined up to ask a question at a session, Nate Kredich cut off at the person before me. I can only assume that it was intentional as I rarely give anyone at USGBC a break. Maybe next time.

I can’t squint that hard

Saving my most petty complaint for last, it is time for the USGBC to bring on more mature employees who do not have such young eyes. The map of the show floor in the conference book had booth numbers printed in such small type that I was unable to see them even with my reading glasses. I’m thinking I might possibly have an ADA complaint. Any good lawyers want to talk to me about it?


  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Low-E Reflective Insulation
    Thanks for your interesting report. You wrote, "While I have heard nothing negative about these particular companies..." — Low-E Reflective Insulation and Power to Pass. I don't have any information about Power to Pass, but I have reported on Low-E Reflective Insulation.

    Low-E Reflective Insulation is manufactured by a company that was formerly known as Envrionmentally Safe Products. When I investigated foil-faced bubble wrap products for an article in the September 2003 issue of Energy Design Update, Environmentally Safe Products was one of the manufacturers that was found to have exaggerations on its Web site.

    At that time, the company falsely claimed "the pure aluminum center [of its Slab-Shield product] ... provides an effective thermal break between the foam layers and prevents the slab or heating system from seeking the cold ground below it."

    After I exposed this as nonsense, the president of the company, Scott Miller, wrote EDU a letter, noting, "We did not intend to claim that just the foil was the thermal break in our product. ... My apologies to anyone that may have been confused by that statement."

  2. Allison A. Bailes III | | #2

    LEED for Homes
    Thanks for the report, Carl. I'd be interested in hearing about anything you found out about LEED for Homes. Did they provide any numbers about growth (or contraction) in the program? Did they mention NAHB Green at all? Any news about changes in the program or new directions?

    -- Allison A. Bailes III, PhD
    Energy Vanguard

  3. Expert Member
    CARL SEVILLE | | #3

    Reflective Insulation
    Martin - thanks for the clarification on the company name. I recall your torching of that product but did not realize that it was the same company that was distributing the foil tote bags . I was trying to be uncharacteristically polite in that post.

    Allison - not much discussion of NAHB that I heard. There is a lot of discussion about revamping the homes program, although it doesn't sound like there will be substantial changes for a few years. They are calling it LEED 2012 but it can't come soon enough in my opinion.

  4. Ed Welch | | #4

    Home Performance

    Just curious to hear how much actual home performance measurements were emphasized at the LEED conference. I know that LEED for Homes has been holding meetings on how best to rate homes on actual performance but I have not heard any conclusions. Seems to me that homes need to perform well, really be energy efficient, be healthy and comfortable....before they receive any LEED certification.

    I'm just so tired of going to Green conferences where the emphasis still seems to be on geothermal, PV, Tankless, bamboo, etc, etc.

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