The Star of Greenbuild 2012

By Ryan Spies

Ryan is an Engineer, MBA, and a LEED Green Associate. After graduating from the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis in 2011, Ryan’s career has focused on global market understanding of the solar industry, while demanding an ever growing role within his company’s sustainability program. He loves burritos, video games and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Nov 20, 2012 | Announcements | 0 comments

Passion. Fire. Intensity. Collaboration. A fervor for sustainability and green building. That is what Greenbuild 2012 in San Francisco was all about.

Granted, this was the first Greenbuild of my life, and I’m sure the past conference and expo’s have been filled with this same passion, but as a new experience, it was truly overwhelming and eye opening.

The opening plenary, featuring powerhouse personalities like Cory Booker, Gavin Newsome, Joe Scarborough and current Mayor of San Francisco Edward Lee were certainly ready for the show, but I personally found the best opening was provided by someone without quite the same star power.

A Powerhouse Plenary

USGBC President and CEO Rick Fedrizzi absolutely blew the crowd away.  With a fiery passion usually reserved for political conventions, Fedrizzi forcefully and emotionally told green building critics to “Bring It On”, and went on to compare the green movement to past social movements such as women’s suffrage, civil rights and LGBT equality.  It was moving, it was inspiring, and it was the type of speech that makes you want to stand up and do something… and it turns out, that’s what this entire conference was about.  At its core, Greenbuild is about bringing together 30,000+ people and reinforcing their belief in what they’re doing.

Want to get fired up too?

Fedrizzi starts speaking at the 26:50 mark of this video, although I won’t fault you for watching the whole thing!

I won’t deny that business plays an amazing role in this industry and conference, after all, we do recognize it as a nearly $1 trillion dollar industry worldwide, but the people here recognize business as the means to accomplish their goals. Walking through the Expo floor (in all 3 Moscone buildings!), you can feel the excitement stemming from the hundreds of businesses displaying the best of the best green technology. You can hear it in their voices when they describe how their products will literally change the world. You can see it in their faces that they are genuinely happy to be speaking with other people who get it, who get why this is all so important.

It was an absolute pleasure to be a part of, but also an eye opening reality check.  This business, this opportunity, this necessity to change the way we create and interact with the built environment makes all the sense in the world to the people at this conference, but that is not enough.  There are millions of people in this country that have been convinced it’s all for naught, that it’s unnecessary, or too expensive, or some environmentalist utopian fallacy.  They’ve been convinced that we are wrong, but as Fedrizzi says:

We. Are. Right.

We should learn from those past social movements what worked, and what didn’t. We should be spending our resources making the case to the non-believers, not patting ourselves on our backs in echo chambers.  We should be promoting the benefits of green building besides the amazing environmental aspects.  We should be having meaningful discussions with our friends, family, neighbors, and even elected officials. We should be doing this because we know our opposition is. We should recognize our detractors will not play above board, will not fight cleanly, will not stop protecting their outdated and destructive business models, because the reality is, they make a lot of money doing things the old way. We must recognize this for the simple reason that ignoring it, that not addressing it, that not fighting it fire with fire will doom us into tertiary players in the future of our country and our world.

Making an Impact

Of course, I’m not advocating playing dirty… that’s just not the way the green industry works. (Rimshot!) However, we need to understand that while Greenbuild is a great way to share ideas on actual green building products, services and strategies, it is also an opportunity to rally the troops. To provide clear guidance and message so that we can be advocates and champions of this movement when we return to our own states, to our own cities, to our own homes. In the end, that’s what it will take, and that’s what it’s all about. That’s why President Fedrizzi spoke so passionately, that’s why it felt like a political rally at a certain point, and that’s why it fired me up so much.

Greenbuild 2012 was a wakeup call for me, a call already embraced by intelligent, forward thinking business people, architects, designers, builders and community leaders across the country. This industry is here to stay, here to grow, and here to make a difference.  I look forward to getting my hands dirty, to preaching this message, and to making an impact in my community.  Thank you Greenbuild, you’ve reignited the fire.  I’ll see you in 2013.

Discussion

Leave your comment below, or reply to others.

Please note that this comment section is for thoughtful, on-topic discussions. Admin approval is required for all comments. Your comment may be edited if it contains grammatical errors. Low effort, self-promotional, or impolite comments will be deleted.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read more from MeetingoftheMinds.org

Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology

Engaging Historically Marginalized Communities During COVID-19

Engaging Historically Marginalized Communities During COVID-19

Since historically marginalized communities are already being disproportionally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, I am frustrated to see these communities also negatively impacted by the lack of on-the-ground public engagement. While I realize the threat of COVID-19 and the associated restrictions make conducting on-the-ground public engagement challenging, I want to encourage fellow planners to think more creatively. I will admit that I struggled to think creatively when I first heard that Clackamas Community College (CCC) would continue having mostly online classes in Spring Term 2021. CCC has had mostly online classes since the end of Winter Term 2020 when COVID-19 first started impacting Oregon. CCC’s decision about Spring Term 2021 became more stressful when Clackamas County staff told me that public outreach for their new shuttles could not be delayed until next summer.

If Companies Want a Diverse Workforce, They Need to Pay Attention to Transportation

If Companies Want a Diverse Workforce, They Need to Pay Attention to Transportation

A new toolkit has been developed to help businesses think through strategies to decrease mobility barriers to the workplace, which reduces turnover. When workers can reliably get to work regardless of their personal circumstances, it provides employment stability and the opportunity to build wealth. It’s a win-win. Developed through a partnership between Metropolitan Planning Council and a pro bono Boston Consulting Group team, the toolkit includes slide decks, an overview report, customizable templates, a cost calculator, and instructional videos walking a company through the thought process of establishing a baseline situation, evaluating and selecting a solution, and standing up a program.

Depending on the employer’s location and employees’ needs, solutions may range from helping with last-mile transportation to the transit system, to developing on-demand vanpools, to establishing in-house carpool matching systems. The ROI calculator gives employers the ability to determine the break-even cost—the subsidy amount a company can manage without hurting the bottom line.

How Affordable Green Housing Enhances Cities

How Affordable Green Housing Enhances Cities

Housing that is affordable to low-income residents is often substandard and suffering from deferred maintenance, exposing residents to poor air quality and high energy bills. This situation can exacerbate asthma and other respiratory health issues, and siphon scarce dollars from higher value items like more nutritious food, health care, or education. Providing safe, decent, affordable, and healthy housing is one way to address historic inequities in community investment. Engaging with affordable housing and other types of community benefit projects is an important first step toward fully integrating equity into the green building process. In creating a framework for going deeper on equity, our new book, the Blueprint for Affordable Housing (Island Press 2020), starts with the Convention on Human Rights and the fundamental right to housing.  

The Future of Cities

Mayors, planners, futurists, technologists, executives and advocates — hundreds of urban thought leaders publish on Meeting of the Minds. Sign up below to follow the future of cities.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This