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GREENBUILD - WASHINGTON DC
November 23, 2015
Monumental Green was the theme of this year’s
Greenbuild conference in Washington, D.C.
Monumental is how many describe our nations
capital - the history, power and emotion
of DC is evident everywhere. The Lincoln
memorial at night was my highlight. I was
joined by what seems like overdressed high
school kids after a junior ball looking for
another photo opportunity to tweet, post and
share. Monumental is how many explain the
impact green buildings have had on our
environment and our economy. However as was
said many times over the week, there is still
work to be done - so let’s do it.
always, Greenbuild delivers. It delivers
inspiration in the way so many people and
communities share their ideas and best
practices. It delivers strategies for all of
us to consider when we design, build, live and
work. It delivers stories on successes and
failures as we all try to improve the
relationship between our man made environment
and our natural environmental.
like James Cameron the director of Titanic,
Terminator, and Avatar talked about a natural
environmental deficit disorder the affects
many in our inner cities. We learned about
food deserts where affordable and nutritious
food is difficult to obtain. Our bike tour
stopped by a community garden where they are
trying to bring a food oasis to such an area.
Cameron suggests a digital detox to reconnect
us to nature as many of his public and personal
There were sessions
on Net Zero buildings and the tallest Passive
House building - a 26 story apartment building
being built on Roosevelt island in New York
City. Passive House is a rating system that
reduces energy use by 80%-90% in buildings.
Only one part of what makes a building green.
Awards were given out. A powerful
initiative and video by Colgate Palmolive
titled “Making Every Drop of Water Count”
shows us how much water we waste. It explains
that if we don’t shut off the faucet when we
brush our teeth we will waste over 2.5 gallons
of water - more water than many people in the
world have access to in a month. See video
Colgate-Palmolive was this
year’s recipient of the Ray Anderson Radical
Industrialism Award. This award was named
after the founder of Interface Carpeting, the
world’s first net zero waste carpet
We also learned about
the connections between water use and energy.
Amazingly, 20% of California's electric use is
related to delivering water.
always known that because humans spend over
90% of their time indoors that healthier
buildings are better for us. Now a new study
by Harvard University confirms that our
cognitive ability doubles in green buildings
that have better indoor air quality and access
to daylight and views. Previous studies have
shown that green buildings help increase
students test scores, improve worker
productivity and reduce absenteeism.
Greenbuild does get political. One speaker
excused himself by describing the origins of
the word politics - "poly meaning many and tic
meaning blood sucking insect." I believe the
partisanship doesn't help. If you want half of
the electorate to join the effort to save
energy, conserve water, reduce waste and
improve transportation, we need to have an open dialogue on
the costs and benefits of our efforts. Perhaps
they missed Bill Gates’ claim recently that,
“subsidies to today’s green energy technology
are a waste of money and capable of
influencing climate only at a cost that is
beyond astronomical”. Bill must have read
Bjorn Lomborg’s book “Cool It” where Lomborg
says if you care about people you will spend
more money on things like malaria nets rather
than ineffective carbon reduction strategies.
The Gates foundation recently donated over 250
million dollars for malaria R&D.
There is still work to be done, so
let’s do it.
© 2015 MICHAEL SHILALE
ARCHITECTS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED