Sunday, November 21, 2010

Greenbuild continued

Deidre has captured the big themes at Greenbuild with her usual keen eyes for trends, so I'll rely on my ears. Thanks for the quote from the Admiral, D. With that as my leaping off point, here are a few others that struck a chord.

1) Emma Stewart, PhD, Senior Program Lead, Sustainability Initiative at Autodesk: "The cloud is redesigning knowledge." A former geneticist, Stewart opened with the sobering assessment that the rapid consumption of natural resources, i.e. selfishness, is innately human. When all we know is our own desire, we act to satisfy it. But if cloud computing redesigns our knowledge to reach beyond ourselves into our communities, countries, continents --when what we know about others is as real as what we know about ourselves--perhaps selfishness will go the way of prehensile toes. I love when really smart humans think the species can redeem itself.

2) Mayor Daley, as the recipient of the first Greenbuild Daly Award for Sustainable Cities: "I want to be the first city to build a vertical farm!" Given that the session called "From Solar Panels to Lettuce: Evaluating the Most Productive Options for Building Envelopes" was my one SRO event this year, I think he'll have plenty of help.

3) A spokesperson for the American Chemistry Council trying to do damage control after Dr. Arlene Blum, founder of the Green Science Policy Institute, had detailed the human toxicity of brominated and chlorinated flame retardants: (paraphased) "I think we heard some very important statements about R values (measurement of thermal insulation) that we shouldn't lose sight of." When flame retarded insulation materials are serving up CMR (carcinogenic, mutagenic, and reproductively toxic) effects, I'm pretty sure most of us would be happy to look for our R values elsewhere, and even put up with reduced R in the meantime.

4) Martha Johnson, Administrator of the GSA (U.S. General Services Administration) describing how the agency will take on the risk of becoming a green proving ground for new green technology: "We need to fail fast, fail forward, and fail fruitfully" to bring renewables on line. Expediting failure to get at success - now there's an honest approach.

5) Ted Caplow, Bright Farm Systems: (paraphrased) "When a hydroponic supermarket is growing all the produce it sells on its roof, and consumers are picking or buying at zero food miles, that can only be called a super-duper market." Eat your heart out Super Stop & Shop.

Not a bad take for two and a half days in Chicago. Thanks Greenbuild 2010.

The message(s) from Greenbuild

Greenbuild 2010 is over. Here are a few things I felt were the defining "messages" to take away this year:

1) Radical transparency... again this year. Last year it was a new-ish idea. This year it is becoming the norm; if manufacturers want to maintain credibility and trust with consumers, they need to "give it up" - (the information on their products, that is).  Soon "No data=No Market" will define the losers in this push.  The most popular quote (in at least 2 presentations this year): "Transparency breeds self-correcting behavior." -Adml. Thad Allen

2) LCA, LCA, LCA... life-cycle assessments come to US soil in a big way.  We saw it coming, now its here and there is NO turning back.

3) Eco-logos/product certifications will give way to LCAs and EPDs. I don't think this is necessarily a good thing, but perhaps the proliferation of eco-logos will finally slow down. Using LCA data as a comparative tool is quite problematic, but architects, specifiers, consumers are saying they want it. We'll see if they really do want that much data. It will certainly feed the desire for transparency, but some consumers already feel overwhelmed and want less data, not more. How to please everyone??

4) Mergers are all over the place.  UL Environment and Terra Choice, Pharos and Green Spec databases, and some other ones not quite announced so I will keep mum for now...

5) Federal agencies are "going green" apparently in a bigger way. GO!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Saving the Kardashians

It’s daylight savings weekend, and if you actually let that extra hour last night between 1 and 2am provide an extra hour of sleep, you could be on your way to a new regimen with many physiological benefits. Develop a habit of getting adequate rest, we’re told, and you could end up with an optimistic mind, operating with better memory in a lean, quick-healing, cancer-resistant body. But why stop there? Snoozing, dozing, hitting the sack, sawing logs, going for a kip - whatever you call it when you call it a night - generally involves lights out. Not to mention sleep mode for all of our appliances. While good sleepers may be seeking only to conserve their own resources for optimal performance, they can also claim to be reducing their daily contribution to global warming and light pollution. Not a bad return for not keeping up with the Kardashians.
But let’s say most of us just used that hour to stay up an hour later to finish watching the Netflix video that stood between us and the next one in our line up. And when darkness arrives at 4pm each following day, it will in no way signal a winding down of our activities, as darkness may once have done in oil-lamp-lit agrarian societies. The midnight oil (in actuality the midnight coal) just starts burning an hour earlier, igniting the argument for doing away with daylight savings, in deference to saving the planet.
So, if you did enjoy that extra hour of sleep on November 7, you are entitled to feel a little more in sync with the natural order. Why not consider whether you might indulge in a few more winks in the months to follow? Think of it as tuning into your inner hibernating, migrating, or mud-burrowing DNA, depending on which branch of evolution you identify most with. And if, in following these instincts, you happen to miss an important episode for Kourtney, Kim and Kloe, remember: there’s always hulu.