Greenbuild 2009: Conference Opens the Doors to Its Largest Expo Yet

Greenbuild 2009: Conference Opens the Doors to Its Largest Expo Yet

Editor's note: To read all our coverage of Greenbuild 2009, visit

Convention-goers streamed onto the vast tradeshow floor of the Phoenix Convention Center Tuesday evening as Greenbuild 2009 opened the doors to the expo portion of the U.S. Green Building Council's eighth annual conference.

The venue for the expo is the largest by far for Greenbuild. More than 1,800 exhibitors signed up to display their products and services. 

Yet even before vendors had settled into their booths, some were already looking toward Greenbuild 2010 in Chicago. Attendance projections for this year and anticipated demand for tradeshow booths next year, prompted conference organizers to urge exhibitors to commit to space early. 

"It wasn't even 3:30 [Tuesday afternoon] when we heard that they're saying there are about 24,000 pre-registered [attendees] for the conference this year and that we have to look ahead to Chicago now," said one exhibitor.

Official Greenbuild attendance for this year will be tallied later. For now, conference organizers say 24,000 is a preliminary working figure and they expect it to increase with walk-in registration throughout the week.

Exhibitors are hoping those numbers will translate into business and Tuesday night they were focused on sharing the sustainability messages of their companies with all comers.

Here is a sampling of some of the firms that chatted with


Business is going so well for Sunoptics, maker of prismatic skylights for high-performance daylighting systems, that the 31-year-old firm based in Sacramento, California, is expanding its operations, says Grant Grable, the company's vice president for sales and marketing.

Launched with just three employees in 1978 working out of a 6,000-square-foot site, the privately owned company now employs about 80 at its 120,000-square-foot operation, where all manufacturing is done in house -- a point of pride for the firm. The product is 100-percent made in the U.S. An average of 6,000 units a month are produced by the company, whose goal is to get retailers, manufacturers and others businesses to switch off the lights and let the sun -- with the help of their product -- do its work.

"There's no greater efficiency than 'off,'" Grable likes to say. The company's prismatic skylights are the "most cost-effective and efficient green technology on the market," he says

From Sunoptics' viewpoint, daylighting ought to be first solar option that building owners and developers consider. Some major firms have bought into that principle. The company's clients include Walmart, which has used the skylights in its stores and in Sam's Club for about 17 years, Grable says; Coca-Cola as well as Coca-Cola Enterprises, the beverage company's bottler and distributor; Best Buy and Lowe's, among others.

In addition to the U.S., the firm now also does business in Mexico, Central and South America, England, Spain, Portugal, France, Turkey, Hungary, Poland, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

In honor of men and women who have served in the U.S. military, Sunoptics has given some of its booth space at Greenbuild to the local VFW post so the group can raise funds. That effort starts today, Veterans Day, and will last through the expo, which closes Thursday night.

Quality Attributes Software

Over in the large circular space occupied by Quality Attributes Software, John Grabowski shows what his company can do to help firms understand the wealth of data that pours in from their building systems by organizing it and the analyses that flow from the information and by providing visual images to convey that information. 

In addition to helping businesses better manage their use of resources, that environmental impact and the related costs, the company's goal is to help firms tell the story of those sustainability efforts to a range of external and internal audiences: They can include building occupants and visitors, shareholders, the general public of the company's CFO. 

Quality Attributes' product, iBPortal (the iB stands for intelligent building), is web-enabled kiosk software with modules that provides a colorful, interactive and real-time way to communicate the information. "It's like Xbox meets engineering," says Grabowski, the company's chief sales and marketing officer.

The data can be presented broadly across a portfolio of sites and minutely such as consumption of a specific resource at a specific site, associated costs and comparison of all those factors to the same elements at another facility within the portfolio.

Organizations that have put the software to use include the innovative Kroon Hall at Yale, the Harvard School of Business, the University of Oregon, John Deere and Chevron.


Usually people think of zippers upon hearing this company name -- which is fine by the business reps in other divisions of the corporate group that got its start 75 years ago making fasteners for clothing.

Founder Tadao Yoshida established the business philosophy that is at the core of the company's sustainability charter and at the heart of its work in the building industry. Yoshida's "cycle of goodness" philosophy holds that "no one prospers unless he renders benefit to others," says Richard Braunstein, the product development manager for YKK AP America Inc., the company's architectural products business in the U.S.

"We're not 'Green-Point-1-Dot-Cool,'" he says. "Anybody can have products that look good and have less of an impact on the environment, that's just marketing."

YKK AP's products, do all that, enhance energy efficiency, help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and are made in factories that meet the environmental managements standards of ISO 14001, Braunstein says. "The company has been walking the walk for some time."

What's new, however, is a product line that seeks to deliver environmental performance that "goes beyond anything in the market," he says.

To that end, the company introduced its enerGfacade product family in September. The line of goods is intended to help architects and builders zip tight the windows and doors to minimize energy transfer in structures. The company launched two more products for commercial buildings this week -- the MegaThermXT entrance (read that "doors") and the YCU 750 TU unitized curtain wall.

"Architects have a huge mission," Braunstein said. "they are at the absolute center of the problem (that buildings present for energy consumption and carbon emissions) and they are therefore also at the center of the solution.

"We are expanding the palette of products that they can use to address the problem."  


The company that makes Kleenex and Huggies -- and other products to form a barrier, or clean the stuff, people just don't want to touch, smell or inhale -- wants you to know they've been working to address environmental issues, too.

From the gowns, masks and shoe covers used in hospitals to the cleaning wipes, air fresheners and paper products used in lavatories, the company is stressing its new mantra, "reduce today, respect tomorrow," says Kevin McVeigh, associate marketing director for the unit the company calls JanSan/Sustainability North America. Meaning that company is trying to more responsibly source the products that go into the making their products and improve the environment aspects of manufacturing, packaging, transportation and dispensing of its goods.

In buildings that embraces a range of products, including those not made of paper, such as the filter portion of air filters. The filter is made from material that includes petroleum-based products, the company acknowledges, so the challenge is to make the workhorse portion of the air filter more efficient in the manufacturing process and in its performance.

"Put less in, throw less away," says Ronald Cox of the company's marketing unit for filtration ... that and strive to make it work better than the other guy's stuff.

To read all our coverage of Greenbuild 2009, visit