Greenbuild 2009

The greening of modern society is underway and nowhere is it more important than in our homes. With over one hundred million homes in the U.S. there’s plenty of work to do, but the potential benefits are enormous. It’s a multi-faceted transition: lights and appliances are getting more efficient every year, renewable energy systems are sprouting everywhere, utilities are beginning to build smart electric grids, and building codes are improving in many jurisdictions. Perhaps most importantly, people are changing their behavior.

Whether it’s about building new homes or improving existing ones, a green building tsunami is washing over the construction industry. Like the proverbial rising tide that lifts all boats, green building benefits everyone. Unlike the tide however, the lift provided by well-constructed or renovated green buildings is permanent. And while business-as-usual economics has stalled, greenonomics makes more sense than ever.

There is no greater catalyst for this change than the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), whose mission and vision is no less than the transformation of the multi-billion dollar construction industry in a way that will “regenerate and sustain the health and vitality of all life within a generation.” Their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system has become a national benchmark for high performance, healthy buildings. With nearly 20,000 member businesses, over 100,000 LEED accredited professionals and thousands of buildings positively influenced by LEED, their accomplishments are significant.

The Greenbuild International Conference and Expo is the USGBC’s signature event and will take place next week, November 11-13, in Phoenix, AZ. Details can be found at If you’ve never attended one, let me tell you that the energy at a Greenbuild conference is palpable. Innovative products are on display, great ideas are shared and people are invigorated, infused and recharged with a meaningful sense of purpose.

This year’s keynote address will be delivered by former vice-president Al Gore, a man who is steadfast in his commitment to the environment. There is also an impressive and diverse array of master speakers on the agenda. A wide variety of workshops and educational sessions are planned and, of course, the show floor will be filled with thousands of interesting products and service providers.

This year’s event will include the Greenbuild 2009 Residential Summit, a good indication of the growing importance and influence of the residential green building market. The residential summit will include a separate keynote address, workshops and educational sessions guaranteed to be jam-packed with useful information. In browsing through the list of sessions, I’m saddened only by the fact that it will be impossible for me to attend them all.

If you’re a leader in the green building field, I’m sure you’ll be there. If you’re a leader in your business or community, you should be there. For the many folks who seek information on greening a home or getting involved in the new green economy, this is an event worthy of your consideration.

We’re fortunate to have organizations such as the USGBC. They’ve been working hard, building consensus, creating momentum and blazing a trail. Take advantage of the close proximity of this year’s Greenbuild. Since it will be held in a desert city this year, it will bring special relevance to our region. We must continue to accelerate the shift toward the creation of sustainable communities and this is one way to help put the pedal to the metal. Get involved and get to Greenbuild in Phoenix next week. I hope to see you there.

Green Living column for Thursday, November 5, 2009, published in the Las Vegas Review Journal: “Council blazes a green trail”