Greenbuild 2012 is a Wrap! Philadelphia Here we Come!

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.

NOVA speed dating

NOVA speed dating

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!

 

 

GREEN BUILDING GURU: Steve Jette, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics

 Greenbuild 2012 is the perfect venue to capture interesting perspectives on sustainability. We’re highlighting a few noteworthy individuals through our “Green Building Guru” column

What do you think is the most critical factor in ensuring a healthy, sustainable built environment?

The most important thing we can do to ensure a healthy, sustainable built environment is to be more efficient in the manufacture of products to lower the embodied energy in our products.  As we manufacture, we need to save on energy and water so that there is less embodied energy in products when they go to market, when they get assembled or when they get fabricated. We are components of end structures so we need to do our part to ensure the sustainability of the end project.

 What is your business doing to support this goal?

To accomplish this, we have conducted an industry first Life Cycle Assessment on our ThermalBond® foam tape.  This is a cradle-to-grave assessment that measures the environmental impacts of manufacturing and the benefits of using our product. For our customers to be efficient they need their components to be efficient and that is what we have to done – quantified our processes with the LCA.

Maximize Your Mobile at Greenbuild

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend downloading the Greenbuild Mobile App, which offers a few new bells and whistles that will enhance your experience at the conference. As with many event-related mobile apps, it provides a full listing of educational sessions and exhibitors to help you navigate the conference. However, it also has additional features that piqued our interest:

From the exhibitor directory, you can create a customized list of companies and organizations you’d like to visit. The list can serve as a checklist and help you make the most of your time at the conference.

Attendees can easily engage in online conversations through integrated Twitter and Facebook feeds that are specific to Greenbuild.

The “Green Your Greenbuild” section offers tips on how to reduce the environmental impact of your visit. For example, it helped us easily connect to San Francisco’s rail system to get from the airport to the conference — which saved 20 pounds of emissions from entering the atmosphere.

Also, a new “Attendee to Attendee” section allows you to connect with others who have downloaded the app. From the online directory, you can easily search a list of attendees and send messages.

Of course, the best part of the app is that is eliminates the need for a printed directory. To learn more about the app, visit www.greenbuildexpo.org.

Greenbuild and San Francisco: Sustainable Superheroes

The LEED-certified San Francisco International Airport

What do you get when you combine the world’s largest green building conference with one of the most sustainable cities in the U.S.? Well, we’re about to find out as we pack our bags for the Greenbuild 2012 International Conference and Expo.

Ever since the City of San Francisco made the bold move to ban plastic shopping bags five years ago, there’s been somewhat of a spotlight on the city and its environmental initiatives. Fast forward to 2012 and you’ll find that their commitment to a healthy, sustainable community continues to thrive.

Last month, San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee announced that the city is diverting 80 percent of waste from landfill disposal — the highest rate in the country. In addition, a new city ordinance will require commercial buildings to publicly share information on energy performance.

According to the Northern California Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, the area boasts an impressive 384 LEED-certified buildings, which includes the Moscone Center — the first convention center on the West Coast to achieve LEED Gold certification and Greenbuild 2012 venue.

On a lighter note, environmental issues appear to be deeply engrained in the city’s culture. There’s a robust lineup of sustainability-related “meet ups” on an ongoing basis. Many restaurants feature menus with locally grown ingredients. They even host an organic beer and wine pavilion at the annual San Francisco Green Festival.

All in all, we’re eager to land at the San Francisco International Airport — also LEED certified, of course!

Greenbuild 2012 Here We Come!

Moscone Center in San Francisco

The Saint-Gobain family of businesses are on their way to the “city by the bay” for Greenbuild 2012 with some very exciting, innovative products that are ideal for green building projects. Products such as VOC-scavenging materials, photovoltaic roofing technology, highly-sustainable countertops and hybrid insulation solutions will be on display along with information on high-profile installations.

You will not want to miss seeing the new carbon calculator developed by CertainTeed Building Scientist Lucas Hamilton and Sustainable Solutions Corporation which will make its debut at the show in Booth #4359N.

We’ve also launched a special landing page just for Greenbuild 2012 that serves as a hub for people interested in following the show. Whether you are at Greenbuild or back in your office, you will want to bookmark www.saint-gobain-northamerica.com/greenbuild/  to check out the posts from our bloggers about the show.  You will get a ‘feet on the ground’ view of the exhibitors, demonstrations and much more.

Join us in sharing thoughts and insights from the show by using hashtag #SGgreen.

If you’d like to have an in-person conversation that spans beyond 140 characters, stop by our booth. We’re always interested in engaging in conversations about the latest green building trends.

 

Saint-Gobain Businesses Heading to GreenBuild 2012

Saint-Gobain and its family of businesses are gearing up for GreenBuild 2012 in San Francisco, CA from November 14 – 16.  We are excited to be sharing some new technologies with attendees at four locations on the show floor.  The Saint-Gobain family of businesses will be in booth 4359N.  In addition, attendees can also visit NOVA External Venturing in Booth 4463N; Saint-Gobain ADFORS in booth 4459N and SAGE Glass in booth 4353N.

Also, thought leaders within Saint-Gobain businesses will be sharing their insights and observations of this year’s show through the Building Knowledge blog which will feed to a webpage dedicated to GreenBuild 2012. 

Stay tuned!  There will be more information about the webpage and how to stay connected to GreenBuild 2012 with Saint-Gobain, CertainTeed and other businesses of Saint-Gobain in future posts.

The Road to GREENBUILD 2013 is Paved with Corporate Commitments to Sustainability

 
 
 

Lucas Hamilton

Lucas Hamilton is Manager, Building Science Applications for CertainTeed Corporation

I went to the Best of GREENBUILD session that was held by the Delaware Valley Green Building Council (DVGBC) as part of the Road to 2013 GREENBUILD Conference which will be hosted by Philadelphia. Philadelphia GBC members are very excited about hosting the Conference and are committed to putting on the best GREENBUILD ever. A component of this is to transform all 5 million people living in this region into good will ambassadors to the show through education and awareness. To this end the DVGBC is taking a variety of actions to challenge and engage.

As good corporate citizens, many of the DVGBC sponsoring companies and firms have made public pledges of positive actions they will accomplish between now and the show.  As an example, in addition to the multitude of sustainability programs we have as a corporation, CertainTeed and our parent company Saint-Gobain have committed to saving more than 10 thousands gallons of gasoline in our personal cars between now and the time of the 2013 GREENBUILD show. This will be accomplished through a combination of “work smart” scheduling and carpooling to our facilities. The Philadelphia Chapter is planning to show these commitments of the sponsoring companies at the 2012 Convention in San Francisco to promote the 2013 event.

I smile a little on the inside because it is also such a “Philly” thing to do. Please try to remember that when we threw snow balls at Santa Claus during half-time of that Eagles game it wasn’t because he was Santa- it was because the guy wearing the cheap Santa suit could have done a much better job of making us believe. Don’t think us cruel; we’re as hard on ourselves as we are on everyone else.

You can be certain you will be hearing much more about his event as we get closer!

Greenbuild 2010 – The Disney World of Sustainability

Greenbuild 2010

I have been at Greenbuild 2010 this week at the McCormick Place Conference Center in Chicago.  The event is sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council. There are 1,800 exhibitors and it feels like attendance at the event is up again this year.  Most other construction related trade shows that I have attended this year have seen a decline in attendance but not Greenbuild. The traffic in the aisles was genuine. The attendees are not just there ‘kicking the tires’ they are engaged, want information and are asking questions. It is safe to say that the sustainability movement is on very solid ground.

At the show this year I’ve noticed that there seems to be a greater number of manufacturers offering competitive products. This should help create competition within product categories and in the end drive down the prices for certain types of green products.  This will help to encourage the use of more sustainable products and processes.  Examples of categories where I saw this was an increase in exhibitors who support rainwater harvesting, sustainable wood flooring, and renewable energy sources. These are positive indicators that we are not only on the right track with sustainability; we are on the right train and moving at a faster speed to improve efficiencies in commercial and residential building practices.

It was announced at the opening event that California has adopted Green Building Codes. It will be interesting to watch how this trend develops.  There are some challenges with taking this step but now that one state has put a stake in the ground, others will follow.

 
 

Lucas Hamilton

Lucas Hamilton is Manager, Building Science Applications for CertainTeed Corporation

Ecobuild is an Eye Opener for the Green Movement

Saint-Gobain booth at Ecobuild 2010

Saint-Gobain booth at Ecobuild 2010

In early March, I attended the Ecobuild 2010 Conference and Expo in London, England to see how the sustainable and green awareness message and activity level is handled in the United Kingdom and Europe.  Our parent company, Saint-Gobain was an event sponsor and large exhibitor at this event displaying our sustainable solutions and systems. This show is the equivalent of the GreenBuild Conference and Expo held annually in the U.S.  It was an eye-opener, to say the least.  The U.K. is far ahead of us in the development and integration of energy efficient products. The show had 1,000 exhibitors, attracted 41,000 attendees, and hosted 600 speakers on sustainable topics. The enthusiasm on the show floor ran high. It is clear that even in this time of downturn in the construction industry, the goal of a lower carbon built environment continues to accelerate in other parts of the world.

The heavier emphasis on energy efficiency at Ecobuild verses the trade events I have seen here in the U.S. could be because the cost of energy in the U.K. is higher for both homes and automobiles. In addition, government regulations are more stringent with regard to requiring industry to reduce carbon emissions.

Not surprisingly, there was a strong emphasis on insulation products, primarily fiberglass but also reflective foils and foam insulations.  I am an Insulation guy so I was particularly interested in these products. A new product I saw was a wood fiber insulation product that is used in side walls as a replacement for other types of insulation. Solar panels, either for roofs or ground installation, were also heavily displayed.

But most intriguing was the fact that in every product display, regardless of its place in the building structure, for example a roof truss or steel stud, the marketing story had some energy efficiency twist to it.  They weren’t just selling wood, roofing or insulation every product had an element of how the product contributes to saving energy and reducing the carbon footprint.  The small effort to include more energy efficiency visuals and words in terms of the products we promote would go a long way in raising the consciousness of energy efficiency in the U.S.

The construction industry could learn a good lesson from the activities that the U.K. is undertaking in terms of the development of energy efficient products, and in generating awareness of energy efficient products.  We shouldn’t wait until regulations change or mandates kick-in to step-up sustainable product development and implementation.  The momentum started over there could easily be transferred over here which would not only be good for our planet but also for our pocketbook.

 

 

 

Eric Nilsson

Eric Nilsson

Eric Nilsson is Vice President, Corporate Marketing for CertainTeed Corporation

 

 

Retrofitting for a Green Future

Gerding Edlen renovated and retrofitted the Portland Armory for mixed use.

Gerding Edlen renovated and retrofitted the Portland Armory for mixed use.

It is clear that in order to reduce our energy consumption in existing buildings, we need to retrofit these structures.  Dennis Wilde, a principal at Gerding Edlen Development (GE) addressed this issue during the 2009 Greenbuild Convention and Expo in Phoenix, Arizona.  According to their corporate philosophy, Gerding Edlen exists to do one simple thing: to create vibrant, sustainable and inspiring places where people can work, learn and live. Creating places that offer fresh air, foster creativity and incorporate art and culture help us achieve this goal. Their Principles of Place document expands on this philosophy.

GE was responsible for the first new construction LEED Gold condominium in the US, the first LEED Gold condominium in California, the first LEED Platinum condominium in the US, and the first building on the Nat’l Historic Register to become LEED Platinum. Because LEED Platinum has become easier to achieve, GE is focused on the Living Building Challenge which is the next benchmark for the green/sustainable movement. A growing part of GE’s development and design work is in retrofitting existing structures for energy efficiency under the name Sustainable Solutions.

When evaluating an existing building, GE focuses on energy, waste and human comfort as well as optimizing the operations and maintenance of the building.  The challenge they face  is that few owners/operators put a sufficient amount of resources into training the people who need to maintain the buildings.   The day-to-day maintenance staffs are not trained in how to properly maintain a green building, and maintenance is critical in order to keep these buildings operating at peak performance. You can’t just create a green building and walk away; you have to hold people’s feet to the fire regarding the operation of the building. These are part of the green jobs of the future.

The absence of financing is another challenge to retrofit projects. Traditional financing requires either a high percentage rate or a quicker return on investment. The current financing system isn’t really suitable for the green/sustainable movement because the return on investment takes longer, with a long-range benefit in energy consumption, waste and use of resources. The financing system needs to be reworked to better understand the benefits of green/sustainable building.

Dennis offered some examples of successful GE projects:

  •  The Portland Community College in Oregon was a retrofit project on systems, assemblies and usage and included interior and exterior changes.  It is the first net-zero community college. The project cost to redo the campus of 122 acres with more than three-quarters of a million square feet of space was $15.4 million, but they are saving $1.1 million in energy costs per year. This project will pay for itself in 15 years. They are saving almost $71, 000 in water costs alone.
  •  The Portland, Oregon public school system installed photovoltaic roofing on nine schools with over 500,000 square feet of roof and they are saving $58,000 per year in energy costs. They will recoup the costs of this project in 34 years.

We need to retrofit existing buildings if we are going to lower our energy consumption. The goal of net-zero energy is achievable and the rewards are too great to ignore. To learn more about net-zero building, check out the U.S. Department of Energy Building Technologies Program.

Lucas Hamilton

Lucas Hamilton

Lucas Hamilton is Manager, Building Science Applications at CertainTeed Corporation.