This post was written by Eliza Clark, Director of Sustainability and Environment.
Every year, 25,000 sustainability enthusiasts gather at Greenbuild, the nation’s largest green building trade show. As a founding member of the U.S. Green Building Council, Andersen has participated in every Greenbuild show to-date, and 2015 was no exception. Andersen was proud to exhibit on the Greenbuild trade show floor, as well as to have our CEO, Jay Lund, participate in one of the conference’s formal educational sessions.
We enjoyed sharing our story and learning from other leading companies in the green building space. We always leave the show feeling inspired with a number of new, provocative ideas to inform our sustainability strategy and direction.
At a high-level, my key reflection from Greenbuild 2015 is that the green building industry has hit its stride. Our dialogue has moved from dreaming about the promise of future innovation, to discussing the best way to scale and accelerate the readily available solutions we have at our fingertips. Rather than bemoaning our global environmental challenges, we’re united around “the work” of implementing an even more aggressive and comprehensive set of green building practices and technologies.
Our sustainability team also noticed a distinct shift away from thinking about buildings as strictly physical structures, to exploring them as space for human interaction, healthy living and collaborative problem solving. Drawing inspiration from nature, sustainability leaders are now actively working to improve the connection between humans and the built environment.
In the words of Andersen sustainability analyst Annie Perkins, “This year’s show gave me hope. It’s clear that the expansion of green buildings goes beyond building efficiencies to include human aspects relative to our relationships with buildings – encompassing communities as well. Each year is more evident, the trajectory of green building is on track to apex by addressing and solving global issues far beyond brick and mortar buildings.”
We also observed other themes that tie to the challenge of expanding our circle of influence and impact, including a growing focus on transparency (see my thoughts here), diversity and mentorship. While Greenbuild Nation is 25,000 strong, we need to bring more diverse perspectives to the table to build a movement capable of stemming the tide of climate change.
Our team was also encouraged to see a renewed focus on housing, with Greenbuild’s new Residential track. We’re hopeful that net-zero homes, designed to consume the same amount of energy as they produce, will quickly become the new standard among progressive, eco-conscious homeowners.
Our own educational session, Bringing Net Zero to the 99%, was focused on advancing net zero performance in affordable housing and highlighted St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity’s “Eco Village” project in River Falls, Wis. You can learn more about this innovative net zero project in this short video. We’re proud to have played a role in making Eco Village a reality and were thrilled to share its successes with the Greenbuild audience.
Now that the dust has settled and we’re back at our desks for this short holiday week, we’re also feeling thankful – thankful to play a role in both calling for more action and advancing new and proven solutions. The green building industry has already made such impressive strides, but there is plenty more to do. Let’s get to work!