San Francisco is among the top sustainable cities in the U.S. so it was exciting to be out there for Greenbuild this year. The expo portion of the conference was only two days this year but from the beginning of the first day the show floor was packed with attendees who were really engaged. In fact, it was the most engaged audience I have seen since the recession began. Hopefully, that is an indicator that the building market is returning.
In my travels around the show, I was surprised that I really didn’t see too many new innovations. There was nothing that stood out as a bright, new product or very innovative with the exception of the Saint-Gobain NOVA Innovation Competition. The NOVA External Venturing division of Saint-Gobain rewards start-ups offering the most innovative solutions in the field of habitat, energy and the environment. This was the first time the competition has taken place in the U.S. Over the last several months Saint-Gobain reviewed and selected eight finalists who would come to Greenbuild for a final interview process during the show days. From those eight, three entrepreneurs where awarded cash prizes, however, all the contestants will have the opportunity to partner with Saint-Gobain in exploring potential joint development, licensing and other collaboration.
It was amazing the buzz that was created on the show floor by the NOVA Competition. The final eight entrepreneurs participated in what might be referred to as a “speed dating” round. These innovators were pitching their ideas to some of the best business leaders in our industry. It was exciting during the speed dating and a large crowd gathered for the announcement of the winners. The top winner was Heliotrope, a developer of energy-efficient electrochromic glass that that switches reversibly between three states: solar transparent, heat blocking, and heat and light blocking or darkened. The second place winner was PlanGrid, a complete collaborative platform for construction information and the fastest PDF viewer in the universe. Third place went to SmarterShade, a unique approach to the emerging technology being called “smart windows.”
Greenbuild 2013 is coming to Philadelphia – CertainTeed’s neck of the woods. But, for Philadelphia, following San Francisco is like having the Beatles as a warm-up band. While many folks who are into urban sustainability are aware of the great progress made my our Mayor Nutter and his team, just how far and how quickly Philadelphia has transformed its sustainable future may come as a surprise to some of our visitors next year. I’m certain that none of this would be possible without the support and efforts of groups like the Delaware Valley Green Building Council who is hosting GreenBuild for 2013. There are some very exciting projects taking place in Philadelphia and we are eager to share them with the green world.
I hope to see you in Philadelphia for Greenbuild 2013!