contributed by Stephany Catlin Taddeo, LEED AP [interior designer / fast learner / lover of all things green]
In November 2005 I was fortunate enough to travel to Atlanta, Georgia, to attend the U.S. Green Building Council’s [USGBC] Greenbuild. This extraordinary conference and exposition brought together all the industries involved in the Sustainable Design and Green Building construction process for extensive learning, networking, and exhibiting opportunities. It was my first year, but the event’s fourth, and with over 10,000 attendees — ranging from engineers and contractors to architects and developers — it was just the exciting, collaborative experience that I was looking for. In an effort to pique your interest in 2006’s Greenbuild, I’ll do my best to condense my 72 hour / 580 exhibit / 60,000 square-foot experience into 1,000 words (or less). Here goes…
As a member of the Colorado chapter of USGBC, I attended with a group from Denver to learn and observe for the planning of Greenbuild 2006, which will take place at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, from Wednesday, November 15th, through Friday, November 17th, 2006. (Make your reservations now!)
I arrived early in the afternoon on Tuesday, November 8th, a.k.a. Member Day. Unfortunately, I missed the opening remarks by USGBC President, Rick Fedrizzi, but was able to see him speak a few times throughout the week. I grabbed my lunch and immediately sat in on a USGBC Strategic Goals forum, which discussed USGBC communities. This strategizing session included discussions about local chapter organizations and their roles in transforming their communities. It was a relaxed, open discussion, and a good welcome to the conference.
Later that afternoon I was able to take part in an opportunity to network with the Interior Designers attending the conference as USGBC Members. We took part in a Member Circle to discuss our roles in the process:
- Green Design & Practice
- The holistic building approach
- The business case for Green Design
- How to strengthen your Green Business
- Best practices
This was very exciting as I was able to meet Penny Bonda, who is an inspirational Interior Designer involved in Green Building.
The Exposition opened in the evening, and I toured the exhibit hall of over 400 exhibitors representing over 30 countries and all aspects of Green Building products. A bit overwhelming to take in all at once, but I had time ahead of me to soak it all up.
This morning was the “official” start of the conference. The keynote speakers included Ray Anderson, founder of Interface; Janine Benyus, author of Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature; and Paul Hawken, coauthor of Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution. If you aren’t familiar with these individuals, simply read their books to understand their passionate ideas. As I listened to what each of them said, I had a genuine hope for tomorrow and was excited for what we, as design professionals, could contribute to the future! Truly inspirational.
I then attended a presentation by Master Speaker Sim Van der Ryn. As a leading practitioner of ecological principles and practices in Architecture and planning, Mr. Van der Ryn presented to us his newest lesson, “Designing for Life,” which taught us that “buildings are not objects, but organisms, and cities are not machines but complex ecosystems.”
Right after that, I focused on an educational session titled “Untapped Opportunities: Green Renovations and Green Interiors,” which included a discussion of “Home Performance with Energy Star Building Science.” So much to learn!
Later in the afternoon I sat in on an Emerging Green Builder’s [EGB] Networking Event & Forum. EGB is a group in the USGBC that “represents a coalition of students and young professionals intent on promoting the integration of future leaders into the green building movement.”1 Rick Fedrizzi came to personally let us — the new professionals and students — know that we are the future of the USGBC and Green Building, and that he believes in us. His words infused us with energy.
My last day was full of more educational sessions. I mainly stuck to the sessions that I felt were relevant to Interior Design, like “Interior Designers’ Role in Green Buildings,” presented by Penny Bonda and Kirsten Childs, and “Making the Right Choice: Green Materials,” also presented by Penny Bonda.
With 15 different tracks to choose from, Greenbuild presents opportunities to learn for all professions related to the building and construction industry. Some of those tracks include: New Research, Business of Green, Government, Facility Management, Residential, Greenprints, LEED, Visionary, Specialty Topics, Design & Engineering, Tools, Building Green: Before, During, After, Essentials, and Exhibitor presentations.
In the evening there was an event for the USGBC Leadership Awards, which included food, music, and plenty of chances to network with like-minded people. This was my last day at the conference, but there was still one more day of tours, workshops, and educational sessions.
A Platform For Learning, Change, And Growth
Attending Greenbuild as an Interior Designer was a great educational experience. Not only did it teach me that I do know some things about Green Building from an Interior Designer’s perspective but it also taught me that there is still much more to learn. More importantly, it taught me that we need more Interior Designers involved in Green Building.
As excited as I was to see other Interior Designers as passionate as I am about Sustainable Design and Green Building, I was also disappointed that there were not more of us. This year when I take part in the Interior Designer Member Circle in Denver, I hope to see many more Interior Designers filling the room. Let’s let the other industry professionals know how serious we are about our profession and Green Building.
We are represented by a small group in this big thing called Green Building, yet we can play such an important role in specifying materials and finishes that are both good (less harmful) for the environment and for the health, safety, and welfare of the building occupants. Whether in commercial or residential applications, Green Building can have a great, positive impact on the Earth and its inhabitants. I believe that to be taken seriously as design professionals, Interior Designers need to add knowledge of Sustainable Design and Green Building to our toolbox.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Stephany was featured in the January 2006 installment of STAR POWER.