Touchy Feely Greenbuild
I’m heading to the Phoenix airport on my way home from Greenbuild. I’ve been to them all, from the early “Membership Meetings” where the whole organization fit in one room and everyone knew each other, to the super-charged mega-conferences of recent years. I’m pretty sure this one is my favorite.
No one, least of all USGBC, expected 28,000 people to show up for a conference in this lousy economy. But they did and brought with them the passion and enthusiasm that typifies our community, but more so it seems to me. I’m just guessing here but it may be the same economic hardships that have us so down that in turn brought us closer together for these three days in Phoenix.
Al Gore’s keynote at the open plenary sounded the call to action. "We have a climate crisis at the same time we have an economic crisis at the same time we have a national security crisis.” His solution – “We need to create millions of good new jobs. Well, I know where we can get at least 2.5 million good new jobs: by building green buildings and retrofitting." He concluded on a positive note. "We have everything we need — with the possible exception of political will. But I believe in my heart that we’re going to solve this, because in the United States of America political will is a renewable resource."
The cheering crowd agreed and was rewarded with a rocking Sheryl Crow, who altered some of her best-known lyrics to play to the green-focused adoring audience.
A standout feature of Greenbuild 2009 has nothing to do with the programs. It’s all about the trash. USGBC worked with the Phoenix Convention Center to create a multi-stream recycling program for paper, plastics, aluminum and organic waste. At over 100 recycling centers staffed by student and young professional volunteers, attendees learned how to identify and separate their trash – and they were strict!
I’m taking my warm, fuzzy feelings home with me, and a renewed will to affect change. It’s my job, after all – and yours.