Greenbuild's Health-Based Outcome

Greenbuild's Health-Based Outcome

[To read all our coverage of Greenbuild 2009, visit GreenerBuildings.com/Greenbuild2009.]

Well, there's no doubt that the Greenbuild buzz built up from the kick-off celebration continued through Thursday's sessions and on into the evening. All in all, I would say that the day satisfied on an emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual level: A "health-based" outcome if I ever experienced one.

Say what you will about the green movement, but this is a group of people that knows how to work hard and party hard! The work was had during the second full day of sessions. I attended a LEED for Existing Buildings session talking about the real estate "revolution" underway, where I heard confirmation from Diane Vrkic of Jones Lang LaSalle of what I had intuited: You can't be class A space without being LEED Certified in any major market. Christian Gunter of Kennedy Associates Real Estate Council talked about a "flight to quality" of investment capital, where quality is defined as buildings that make sustainability a cornerstone. Kevin Pierce from Shaw Sustainable Design Solutions rounded out the panel that was ably moderated by Molly McCabe from Hayden Tanner LLC. Kevin noted that, while his school system clients were motivated by different indicators, they were still four-square behind green certification.

Sensory overload was the only human reaction to the trade show floor where several hundred vendors competed on two levels for your attention. It was interesting to note the hunter-gatherer behaviors of people on the floor. The women tended to "graze" and pore over booths and engage with the sales people, whereas the men tended to exhibit more targeted behavior: homing in on a booth, picking up the collateral, maybe asking a few questions, then moving on. While conversations with a few folks manning the exhibits indicated that traffic was somewhat down from Boston, the quality & importance of the show was still at the highest echelons of the tradeshow field.

At the end of the day, I introduced Josh Bernstein of Discovery Channel and History Channel fame, who gave a very deep presentation to an overflow audience as Greenbuild's final Master Speaker. Josh provoked the audience to consider the whys of the collapses of earlier civilizations such as the Maya and the inhabitants of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and what we might learn from this today.

Bernstein persuasively argued that the green movement needs to embrace a more emotional/feeling approach based on a connection with the planet, rather than a 'psychological' approach of inundating people with data about ecological peril. An emotional connection with the planet, he argued, would give rise to right action. As the president of the Boulder (Utah) Outdoor Survival School, Josh knows about visceral connection to the Earth and what it means to live only off the immediate land.

Bernstein concluded that only 10 percent of a population leads, while 80 percent follows and the last 10 percent resists. Josh exhorted the USGBC and its members to not be afraid of shouldering the responsibility -- and burden -- of leading people out of our current eco-predicament.

The day ended for me with an emotional celebration of the lives of Greg Franta and Gail Lindsey followed by cathartic dancing, libations and the company of many dear friends coming together to celebrate and support the launch of the Green Building Foundation, whose worthwhile mission is to "further advance the social equity goals of the green building movement by engaging in mission-related investment."

Rob Watson is the Executive Editor of GreenerBuildings.com. You can reach Rob at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @KilrWat.

Photo CC-licensed by Flickr user swanksalot.