The 4 Best Things About Greenbuild 2014

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Greenbuild made its first visit to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center last week in New Orleans.  © Rita Catinella Orrell

1. The Weather

New Orleans is quite comfortable in late October. You can walk around the city without breaking a sweat and don’t need to seek air conditioned shelter every five minutes in order to keep your heart from palpitating. Perhaps that’s why the convention center’s expo floor was so quiet you could hear a recycled steel pin drop.

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Greenbuild attendees on the floor of the Superdome during the opening plenary and party last week. © Rita Catinella Orrell

2. The Location of the Opening Plenary and the Speech by the Mayor of New Orleans 

I’m being quite specific here for a reason. The plenary was located off-site at the renovated Superdome, where attendees sat on the 50 yard line while eating some really decent catered food (it is New Orleans after all). The Mayor of New Orleans, Mitchell J. Landrieu, gave a great speech about the city’s resilience. “We weren’t ready and the country wasn’t ready,” said Landrieu in his charming Louisiana accent, adding it wouldn’t be the last time we were faced with such a disaster. “You can’t live against the environment, you have to live with it,” said the Mayor, adding that “after nine years of struggle we feel like we are going in the right direction.” Unfortunately, the rest of the plenary was downhill from there.

The Interface booth at the show. © Rita Catinella Orrell
The Interface booth at the show. © Rita Catinella Orrell

3. Social Equity is Getting Attention 

U.S. Green Building Council CEO Rick Fedrizzi announced three new credits for social equity have been added in the LEED library, but that was only one of many times the subject came up. Manufacturers on the show floor, like Salt Works in Syracuse, New York are hiring with low income employees and giving back to their communities. Interface is providing additional income to communities who collect used fishing nets the company can recycle back into carpet tile. And at the Women in Green Power Breakfast (doesn’t Green Power sound like a great political party?) the recurring theme was that empowering women, particularly in places of hardship, is integral to a sustainable future.

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Shot from the Salt Works booth at the show. © Rita Catinella Orrell

4. Products Made of Methane

Both Whirlpool and KI (winner of a Top-Ten Green Award) have new products on the market made in part of AirCarbon Plastic by Newlight Technologies, which captures methane-based carbon emissions and through the magic of science converts the nasty gases into plastic. I just can’t get over this one, but can imagine the jokes on late night TV.

 

P.S. Next year’s conference is headed to Washington, D.C..

 

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