Archive for November, 2008

GreenBuild Expo 2008 – Sustainable Products

In keeping up with some of the other green blogs I read, I have noticed that most all of them have commented on great products at the recent GreenBuild Expo.  Here are some that I haven’t seen mentioned yet.

Kim's View of Embody Chair

Kim's view


Matt's View

First, let me say what a wonderful display of all things green.  The Expo was vast and diverse.   Because my company had some extra “giveaway” expo tickets Matt was able to get in on the expo as well.  We didn’t get much time on the floor together, so we looked at products with very different points of view.  Mine being an architect and his a product design engineer.  It was great fun to compare our pictures and see the different points of view.  Herman Miller’s Embody chair for example.  I was interested in the fabric and the design of the back and Matt while also interested in the design of the back, he was just looking at it from a different point of view, literally.  He is always interested in how it goes together and is produced.  My point is that no matter who you are and what you do there is something for everyone at the Expo shows.

Another of the cool green products I got to view, was the Bushman rain barrel/tankbushman-tankI like that these are flat backed and fit snugly against the side of your house.  I am still trying to figure out when and where I can buy one of these for my home.  They are an Australian company and just making their way into the US and Canadian marketplace.  The nice guys at GreenBuild did say that they would be sold in the Atlanta area through Pike Nurseries (a great place to dig in the dirt).


The Annapolis Bollard is solar powered and pictured on the right.  This is a great innovation towards safety off the grid.  Just image the places this could serve up a nice soft light to keep us safe in dark areas….. ANYWHERE.  That to me is super cool.  The crystalline solar receivers are on the top of the unit.  Just 4 hours of sunlight during the day keeps the bollard fully lit.  The use of LEDs help bright the light while using a small amount of the stored power.  I just think this is a wonderful product with limitless applications.  Check out the video.

3form3Form makes a great product called Wovin Wall.  The color palette is derived from over 50,000 colors.  The wall is expandable.  It is made from ecoresin™ with 40% post-industrial recycled content. In person I thought this was one of the best uses of the color green.  I could go on about the cliche of the color green and perhaps I will in another post.  I saw the wall from across the aisle and just wanted to get over there to see it up close.  Strong vibrant 3 dimensional color and it contributes to LEED credits.

This is just barely scratching the surface of the Expo.  If you get the chance to visit GreenBuild next year, they are heading to Phoenix and it will most certainly be bigger than this year. 

One last comment and a thought, the organization of the products was a good idea.  Having similar products in close proximity to each other helped me strategize my visits.  Now for the thought, vendors do your best to minimize the amount of paper you hand out during the expo for several reasons.  First – it is GreenBuild and those are trees.  Second – I am obligated to carry all of those fliers home and I rarely underpack.  My suitcase is usually right on the border of being over the 50 lb. limit. I did see one smart conventioneer simply write down everything he wanted to see when he got back home.  He only had a few sheets of paper to get home with him.  I think he had the true spirit of the event in mind.

I will leave you with a panorama from the midway catwalk.  You are only seeing half of the vendors and products from Greenbuild Boston.expo-pan2


GreenBuild 2008 – Closing Plenary

This year’s GreenBuild seemed to have had alot less ceremony.  Which, by the people I heard from, was A OK.  The two featured speakers for the closing plenary were EO Wilson and Janine Benyus.  For me they completed the theme I had heard throughout the conference.  That theme being nature and how it relates to us as humans, particularly how it relates to design and engineering solutions.

wilsonEO Wilson is an entomology scholar who is linked to the Encyclopedia of Life aka EOL.  This is an amazing resource available to all, now, for free.  EO Wilson is like the absent minded professor that you can’t get enough of.  He is brilliant and his contributions to the world are tremendous.  EOL is an amazing resource!  It boggles my mind to know that there are so many different and wondrous living things in this world.  What a powerful tool available to all of us.  Now you can leaf through these electronic pages and discover animals and plants just like you did when you were a kid leafing through the pages of the Encyclopedia Britannica on the living room floor.  

Janine Benyus is the co-founder of the Biomimicry Guild and founder of the Biomimicry Ijanenstitute.  Her website is Ask Nature.  It is an intriguing resource for linking engineering solutions to processes found in nature.  She gave a stirring childhood story of being an explorer of her neighborhood lands, that was until the little orange flags appeared one day.  That land was turned into Phase 2 of her housing development and as a child she watched.  Seeing the natural habitats destroyed led her to create the link between nature and design that has evolved today.  The word biomimicry comes from bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate.

GreenBuild catch up…..

I was not able to post as often as I wished during GreenBuild, as there just weren’t enough hours in the day.  I was not one of the people that was busily typing away on my laptop or twittering while the seminars were in progress.   It is hard to believe that GreenBuild 2008 has come and gone.  (Well except for the remaining tours on Saturday)  Now that I have had a little time to decompress here are somtrash1e of the things I saw during GreenBuild 2008.

Trash Police – These kids were great!  Don’t get me wrong, I really like the trash attendants – a few guys but mostly girls.  The first few times I attempted to throw away a soda can on the floor of the expo, I got this very stern “Is it empty!?”  The only response to such a young lady with such a forceful tone is YES MA’AM!  I got very tickled the rest of the conference as they continued on their presorting ways.  Keep up the good work!

The Expo was just the best ever.  I promise I will devote an entire post if not more to the products I saw.  There were several worth mentioning.

Project Frog debuted at GreenBuild.  This was a cool net zero structure for project-frogclassrooms that assembled super fast (six days at the GreenBuild site).  We got to go inside, look around and be impressed.  There was plenty to see and it didn’t feel like a modular.

As expected by many, USGBC and GBCI made announcements concerning LEED 2009.  What it means for newbies and oldies.  I am still digesting the information and will write more about that too but in the mean time check out Pat’s take on it at InTheLEED.

The seminars I attended were diverse in nature.  Wind Turbines, Green Blogs, Platinum Educational Projects, and Sustainability on $2 a day.  They were all great.  I learned something in everyone of them.  The last one was not a seminar I would have normally attended but two of my coworkers were giving it so I thought it would be cool to check it out.   I am sure I was not the normal “Birkenstock hippie” type, but I remained open for the entire presentation and learned a little in the process. 

The idea of poverty as some parts of the world know it just isn’t comprehensible in this country.  It was explained that the poverty line is those living below $2.18 per day.  Geez I can not even imagine….. I spent $2 just to check my coat each day at GreenBuild and I am not even going to tell you how much a diet Pepsi cost me.   I know there are poor in every city but I do believe that those are different situations from what was demonstrated today.  In the demonstrations today the poor in those countries just don’t have any opportunity for work.  Well educated people are idle. 

There were ideas about slums being models of sustainability.  They usually don’t use electricity, cars are not part of their equation and a host of other things we take for granted.  The practices to make housing completely sustainable were creative and encouraging.  Mark Reiner talked about building low cost housing just outside of Rwanda.  Where the infrastructure is completely decentralized.  No roads through the villages, much less any sort of utility.  Thus making the need for every house to sustain itself essential. They accomplished this by utilizing rainwater collection, pit latrines with bio-gas digestoconc-roofrs and methane harvesters for kitchen cooking fuel.  Roof panels for another structures was made out of chicken wire and cloth with concrete poured in place and compressed earthblock technologies were used in yet another.  In one case the waste generated by the village – everything that wasn’t recyclable was put into compost and sold as an organic fertilizer.  Cottage industries like that were helping the villages sustain themselves much like their housing was sustaining itself.

I am not so sure that I have enough Birkenstock Hippie gene in me to ever want to go to a developing country to l help, but I am so very glad that I know other people that are.  Good Job and Thank you!

GreenBuild 2008 – Opening Plenary

This morning’s opening plenary began with a short welcoming speech from Thomas Menino, the Mayor of Boston.  Rick Fedrizzi took the stage next with his usual high spirited and motivational talk.  I enjoy listening to him and believing what he has to say.  He then introduced Archbishop Desmond TutututuHe is a surprisingly funny, charming and down to earth speaker.  Immediately he was able to reach out and grab the audience with his wit.  Check out the introduction and beginning of his speech in the vodpod video.  While I thought his speech jumped around a bit and had several different messages I did take away a few poignant thoughts.  See the second video for an excerpt.

I think my favorite quote of the day was Tutu saying “You are the craziest nation I know.”  He was referring to the contridiction between the struggle with civil rights in this country and our new president elect.  His talk on human rights and this country’s race relations somehow directed itself towards sustainability.  He compared the two several times and said that our struggles were not all that different from those struggles.

One of the great features of the conference is that you can view the opening plenary by visiting Greenbuild 365.  The quality is much better than mine and you can see Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s entire speech.  Another great resource available to you.

After the speeches the African Children’s choir preformed once again with a great couple of songs and dance.  They are a special group of young children.

This year the opening session was mush shorter than last year.  It seemed as if something was left out.  Most everyone agreed that the shorter program was a welcomed change.  There was no major announcement concerning LEED 2009 (I am expecting that tomorrow) at least not yet.  There was a bit less pomp and circumstance than last year (thank you).

After the shortened opening plenary, I along with the 10,000 in attendance ventured into the expo. (30,000 total for GreenBuild) There are just so many great products this year.  I was happy to see a few that had gotten lost in the shuffle last year.  I will post on the products coming up……..

GreenBuild 2008 – Opening night at the Expo

GreenBuild Expo 2008 in Boston

GreenBuild Expo 2008 in Boston

Just getting in from the opening night of the expo.  I am so happy to report that the registration/check-in/pick up your badge and bag process is sooooo much better than last year.  Even though I got my stuff tonight (early)  it is much more streamlined and smooth.  Very helpful attendants and efficient processes will make this a much easier process than last year.  Good Job GreenBuild!

The only snag I ran into tonight was that the coat check was full by 6:30.  This is a very windy cold town and everyone is in a heavy coat – get more coat check room.  A minor infraction in my book.

I only bit off a small part of the expo tonight.  From what I saw it is bigger and better than years past.  There is so much to learn and see.  I am looking forward to a few more swipes at the products in the days to come.  The new video posted is the ride down the escalators into the expo entrance. 

First full day tomrrow and it promises to be packed full.  Got to get to bed and get out early.

Boston – Ready or Not Here We Come!

All the planning and preparation is over.  It’s time to pack and make our way to Boston for the annual GreenBuild conference.  I am almost giddy with anticipation.  Last year was overwhelming and uplifting.  This year promises to be no less.

I just got the “official” email from USGBC concerning the conference shuttle bus to and from the registered hotels and the convention center.  While there will be a limited conference shuttle from selected hotels, USGBC is encouragingthe use of the T.   If I have learned only one thing, it is this….. when certain words are used, like encouraged, by big corporate type entities, then translate that as just do it.  They can probably see the shuttles are not going to be enough to move us all efficiently. 


on foot in Chicago

This is a huge step forward from last year.  Chicago planners were not ready for moving 25,000+ attendees to the McCormick Convention Center last year – at least not at my very nice hotel.  If they were they just didn’t communicate it very well.  Taxis are king in that city.   I ended up staying at the same hotel where Oprah puts her guests… extremely nice, pricey and somewhat out of the green loop. (It was about the only place left by the time I was able to book a room)  The first night before and morning of the convention I felt very isolated and alone in the crowd.  By the end of the 1st day, I got in the groove and found other conference goers and a shuttle bus stop just  a few blocks away.

tBack to Boston, a little research on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s website (aka MBTA…… aka T) turned up the deal of the week.  Since we are staying through the weekend to do a little sightseeing, the week linkpass is a deal.  There is a also a handy route planner for figuring out the best way to the convention center.  It’s a reasonably price, it’s public transportation (great way to reduce your carbon footprint in Boston) and you get to mingle with the locals for a few days – win, win!

Day/Week LinkPass $9.00 for 1 day
$15.00 for 7 days

Unlimited travel on Subway, Local Bus, Inner Harbor Ferry, and Commuter Rail Zone 1A.
7-Day Pass valid for 7 days from the date and time of purchase.

One of the cool new features available this year is the expo floor plan map.  Yes of course there were floor plan maps in the past but this year it is interactive.  You can register and check off the vendors you wish to visit and it will produce a floor plan with your picks outlined.  For an ultra planner like me this is neat stuff.  I don’t want to miss any of my favorite vendors, so I can see what new stuff they have brought along.  Of course let’s not forget all the cool new stuff yet to be seen.

I think I am ready for Boston.  I hope it is ready for me.  

Monticello Verde

A story in the news last weekend made me think about a trip this past houseAugust to Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello.  Matt’s parents were in for a visit and we all went to see the 3rd President’s beautiful mountain top home in Charlottesville, Virginia.  I love this place!  It is a true privilege as a native Virginian to show it off to visitors.  I consider it one of the beginning influences in my love for Palladian architecture.

The love that Thomas Jefferson had for the land and how he integrated the design for the house was sustainability at its heart.  His design made sense.  It worked with the land and used its features for all that lived, worked and played there. 

garden-viewMonticello boasts its sustainable measures long before green was so fashionable.   Here are a few:

The house is integrated into the land through the roundabouts and great lawn

Dependencies under the main house allow for coolness in work spaces, horses and privies,  natural refrigeration for wine cellars and ice house

Terraced gardens on a sunny hillside

Livestock controlling ditches instead of fencing

Tremendous efforts in plant cultivation and experimentation

Weather Observation

Water Collection Cysterns

 Space Saving Closets and Dumb Waiters

 Expansive Windows for breathtaking views tree-goneand ventilation

I was sad to note that one of the large trees has died and is now gone from the lawn side of the house.  You may have noticed something was different in the first photo above.  Here is a closer view……

This past weekend (November 8, 2008) the new 42 million dollar Thomas Jefferson Visitor’s Center & Smith Education Center opened.  While its grand opening isn’t slated until Spring of 2009, April 15th to be exact. (I wonder if the coincidence of tax day was any consideration?)  Hopefully they will have their LEED accreditation by then.  The new center will serve as the gateway to the house and be the new stepping off point for the house tours with a museum shop, cafe and classrooms.  The 42,000 sf facility is going for Gold LEED status.  With sustainable features that include:

A geothermal heating and cooling system
Two “green” roofs
Enhanced indoor air quality
Advanced storm-water treatment
Water conservation measures
Recycling protocols
Extensive use of locally and sustainably produced building materials

When I was there this past summer I was only able to see glimpses around the construction barricades.  I could see a new gleaming copper roof but not much else.  I can’t wait to get back and see how the project has turned out and if it complements one of our nation’s greatest homes.