With a weekend of family, over-eating, power shopping, over-eating, football, and over-eating behind us, I am thankful for all of you who continue to make this one of the best-read e-newsletters in the business. Once again, your thoughtful comments, observations, and questions throughout the year have confirmed for me that green buildings, sustainable design, and concern for improving the indoor environment in general have become mainstream topics of conversation.
As if I needed further proof, nearly 8,000 people from 21 countries recently came together in Portland, OR, for the 2004 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo. Greenbuild featured more than 80 educational sessions and workshops on every aspect of green building under the sun, including case studies of exciting new projects like One Bryant Park in New York City and the World Trade Center redevelopment. Keynote speakers Glenn Murcutt, recipient of the 2002 Pritzker Architecture Prize, and Paul Dolan, former president of Fetzer Vineyards, treated us to their extensive wisdom and insights about sustainability and green building. When attendees weren’t learning, they strolled through our huge exhibit hall, where 373 companies showcased the newest and best green building products and technologies. The interest in green building just keeps growing: An Associated Press story about Greenbuild 2004 ran in hundreds of mainstream newspapers across the United States.
This year’s conference was held at the beautiful Oregon Convention Center (OCC) in Portland. The OCC has many sustainable features, and is a LEED-EB-certified building as well as a Portland General Electric Earth Advantage®-certified building. In 2003, the center won a BEST (Businesses for an Environmentally Sustainable Tomorrow) Award for its innovative “Rain Garden,” an implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Best Management Practices for stormwater treatment. The Rain Garden is an extensive system that takes rainwater from the roof of the facility and filters it through a series of settling ponds and landscape features before releasing it into the nearby Willamette River.
The grounds and the building’s exteriors are both designed to reduce the heat islands produced by asphalt, concrete, or open hard-surface roofs. The use of natural habitat vegetation in landscaping and the facility’s roof design meet Energy Star® requirements for emissivity and reflectance. A generous use of glass in the center’s architectural design provides abundant natural lighting and scenic views of the city and nearby mountains.
It’s no surprise that Portland is home to a green convention center. According to the Portland Oregon Visitors Association’s website, Portland is a city where some 5,000 residents commute to work each day by bicycle; where city planners ripped out a freeway and replaced it with a park; where parking meters are solar-powered; and where the meticulous synchronization of traffic signals results in an annual savings of 1.1 million gallons of gasoline. Portland also boasts the most LEED-certified buildings per capita in the nation …
Which is a perfect segue to tell you that the long-awaited LEED® Green Building Rating System for Commercial Interiors (LEED-CI) is a reality! This is great news, because the commercial interiors market is 16 times larger than the new commercial construction market. The challenge of taking on the commercial interiors market gives the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and its members a unique opportunity to shape this sector of the industry.
Previously in pilot, the rating system has been balloted by the USGBC membership and is now a fully launched product. LEED-CI is USGBC’s third rating system, following the LEED for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) and LEED for New Construction (LEED-NC) Green Building Rating Systems.
LEED-CI serves building owners and occupants, as well as the interior designers and architects who design building interiors and the teams of professionals who install them. LEED-CI addresses performance areas, including selection of tenant space (in LEED-certified buildings or buildings with sustainable attributes); water usage efficiency; optimizing energy performance, including lighting and lighting controls; HVAC systems and equipment; resource utilization for interior building systems and furnishings; and indoor environmental quality, including criteria for emissions, thermal comfort, daylight, and views.
A companion rating system, LEED for Core & Shell developments (LEED-CS), is currently under development. Together, LEED-CI and LEED-CS will establish green building criteria for commercial real estate for use by both developers and tenants.
The buzz about these new products at Greenbuild was incredible. Adding to the excitement was a ceremony to recognize the first pilot projects to achieve LEED-EB and LEED-CI certification. These pioneering projects were instrumental to the rating systems’ development, and it was quite a thrill to present them with brand new LEED-EB and LEED-CI plaques. A full list of pilot projects is available on the LEED website. A delegation from India was also on hand at the certification ceremony to accept a LEED v2 Platinum Plaque for the ITC Centre Project, Gurgaon, Haryana, India. India is a global leader in green building: The ITC Centre Project is the country’s second LEED v2 Platinum project in 2 years.
In keeping with Greenbuild’s title as an International Conference and Expo, we were also honored to welcome China’s Vice Minister of Construction, Mr. Qiu Baoxing. Mr. Qui chose Greenbuild to announce China’s new direction and emphasis on green building. With a rapidly expanding economy and massive urbanization, China is facing unprecedented pressures on its energy supplies as well as increasingly severe environmental pollution. But as Mr. Qui related, China is also adopting many new energy policies and regulations, and is vigorously promoting green building with programs like the First International Intelligent and Green Building Technologies and Products Conference & Expo. China’s building industry is the largest in the world, and presents an incredible opportunity for private companies and organizations offering green building products and services.
Greenbuild was also a chance for us to connect with our community closer to home at special events like USGBC Members Day. USGBC’s membership has skyrocketed to 5,300 members, and the day before the conference officially opened, we invited them to take part in special members-only programs and events. Nearly 800 people took part, enjoying highlights like updates on new LEED products, a topic forum on Life-Cycle Assessment, and a live charrette led by Rocky Mountain Institute. We also honored five of our local chapters – Northern California, St. Louis, Delaware Valley, Redwood Empire, and Cascadia – for their outstanding efforts to promote LEED and green building regionally.
Outstanding achievements were a theme of this year’s conference. USGBC recognized leaders in green building with the USGBC Leadership Awards, given to those companies and individuals who signify vision, leadership, and commitment to the evolution of green building design and construction. Among the recipients was Herman Miller in the Green Building Business category for its long history of commitment to the environment and the concept of sustainability. Seattle-based Mithun received the Local/Regional Leadership Award for its ability to lead the green building industry by example. The Green Public Service Award in government went to Edward A. Feiner, chief architect of the United States General Services Administration. William D. Browning, senior fellow and founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Green Development Services (and a personal friend and mentor), is the recipient of the 2004 USGBC Leadership Award. We are deeply indebted to Bill for his personal contribution to making the USGBC the kind of organization that it is today.
I’m also pleased to tell you that the 2005 Mark Ginsberg Sustainability Fellowship has been awarded to Matt Malten. Matt is an environmental economist with professional experience in developing and managing corporate sustainability initiatives for clients such as IBM and the Wisconsin Energy Corp. The Mark Ginsberg Sustainability Fellowship supports a USGBC Fellow for one semester each year to research a sustainability issue important to the growth and development of the USGBC, mirroring the contributions, spirit, and integrity of Mark Ginsberg, board member in the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Matt’s project involves research coordination to assist the USGBC to develop an executive level study on emerging market trends in green building.
Planning is already under way for Greenbuild 2005 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. Next year’s conference promises to be even more exciting than Greenbuild 2004 – with more exhibits, more educational sessions, and more opportunities to see the best of the green building industry. I can’t wait to see you there!
Rick Fedrizzi is a principal with the Global Environment and Technology Foundation, the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions and president of Green-Think LLC, an environmentally focused marketing and communications consulting firm providing services for the residential and commercial built environments. He also serves as president and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council, of which he also is founding chairman, and president of the World Green Building Council. Contact by e-mail: (firstname.lastname@example.org).