The GreenBuild conference in Toronto, Ontario, opened its gates on October 5, 2011. This is the first time that the U.S. Green Building Council has held its annual conference outside of the United States.
The keynote speech was provided by New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, a longtime promoter of the benefits of globalization. His usual “capitalism is good for the planet” message has been tempered lately by some sensible opinions on the need for governments to impose carbon taxes on fossil fuels, and his speech was well received by the crowd. The event, held in a hockey arena decorated by a 20 foot by 40 foot custom-made neon sign blinking “Next” — USGBC’s chosen theme for this year’s conference — was conducted like a pep rally. There were several opportunities for green building promoters to engage in self-congratulation. Friedman, a quick study, understood the mood and did his part, repeatedly praising those who construct green buildings.
After Friedman spoke, he joined an on-stage panel discussion with Cokie Roberts of NPR, former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell, and Dr. Paul Farmer of Partners in Health, a true hero. Unfortunately, Dr. Farmer had few opportunities to share stories of his work in Haiti, in spite of valiant attempts by Cokie Roberts to balance a conversation that in many ways was dominated by Friedman’s mostly optimistic world view.
This morning I attended a presentation on the Passivhaus standard. The two American presenters, Bronwyn Barry and Prudence Ferreira, managed to get through their explanations of how the standard works in the U.S. without once mentioning the PHI/PHIUS divorce. The closest that Barry came to the topic was when she explained that “You can have your building certified. These certifications are now changing.”
The trade show floor has a few interesting products, including a…