On The Road: Greenbuild 2015

From November 18-20, I was in our nation’s capital for the annual Greenbuild Convention and Exposition. As a first-time attendee, it was a pleasure to find that the fun, forward-thinking, and innovative descriptions of this show that I received beforehand were true.

One of the first things that I noticed about the show was its effort to not only “teach green” but to “be green.” By the end of my trip, I felt more aware of practices ranging from proper disposal of the cup my coffee came in to determining if my food scraps were compostable. From the types of press kit on booth tours to the “walkability” of my host hotel, sustainability was first of mind.

Another takeaway from the show for me was the evolving definition of “green.” Now, human health and its relationship to a built environment has become a focus. This is a result of the WELL Building Standard, which was introduced in 2014 and sets performance requirements in seven categories: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort and Mind. The goal is for WELL-certified spaces to create a built environment that improves the nutrition, fitness, mood, sleep patterns, and performance of its occupants. The standard was a focus of the educational sessions at the show, as well as the discussions that exhibitors had with attendees. Plumbing Engineer will be taking a deep dive into how the requirements could affect our industry in the near future; stay tuned!

As for the Closing Celebration, which I mentioned being excited for in my November column, it was a journalism dream! Held at the Newseum, an interactive museum of news that allows visitors to experience the stories of yesterday and today, my night started with me finding the day’s front-page story of my hometown newspaper, The Commercial Appeal, on display. Next, I was able to network with Kohler team members and distinguished guests at their VIP balcony cocktail reception. Finally, when Fitz and The Tantrums took the stage, they did not hold anything back. Guests were given a full show that featured some of my favorite songs including “More Than Just A Dream” and “The Walker.”

To close my experience, on that Friday I was able to join one of the show’s sold-out city tours, “Living Building: Alice Ferguson Foundation/Potomac Watershed Study Center.” The four-hour tour took attendees to Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center in Accokeek, Md. Once there, we learned about the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s existing and coming structures that are designed according to Net Zero energy and water efficiency guidelines. The grounds will eventually include a multi-purpose building, dormitory, classrooms, sleeping cabins, and wetlands boardwalk. It was fascinating to hear how geothermal wells and solar panels will be used for their water heating and cooling needs. 

Next year’s Greenbuild will take place in Los Angeles, from October 5-7, 2016.

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