By Abigail Hoelzer ’16, Environmental Leadership Participant
The field of sustainable infrastructure today goes far beyond the iconic solar panel or wind turbine. In fact there are hundreds of companies, techniques, and materials that have been developed within recent years, many of which are new to the market and not yet mainstream. Green building is a practice that attracts professionals of all fields: architects, building contracts/owners, developers, educators, engineers, interior designers, and government employees.
The Greenbuild Conference is a platform designed for businesses to showcase eco-friendly techniques and products and is intended to educate the public and catch consumer attention. The conference spans three days and features professional speakers, networking opportunities, showcases, workshops, and tours. Greenbuild is the world’s largest expo focusing on eco-building; thousands of companies and participants attend annually. On November 19th, 2015 The Eisenhower Institute Environmental Leadership Program headed to Washington D.C. for the day to explore the Greenbuild Conference and learn about these sustainable approaches.
Upon entering the venue there were hundreds of booths, many grouped by division (lighting solutions pavilion, wood pavilion, water pavilion, residential pavilion, etc.) To maximize exposure, the Environmental Leadership team split into teams and investigated a variety of different companies. Some of the most notable products included green roofs, rainwater harvesting, greywater cycles, permeable sidewalks, recycled wood/carpet/steel, sustainable windows/insulation, and building energy monitoring.
As the team was exposed to this abundance of green building information, they considered how these technologies may be employed by cities, residential areas, corporations, college campus, and also how they may relate to aspects like governmental policy and global impact.
The 2015 Greenbuild Conference took place at an opportune time, as the Global Climate Talks in Paris began on Monday November 30th. This climate conference, which has brought dozens of the worlds most influential leaders together for two weeks to focus on combating global climate change via the reduction of greenhouse gasses, is one of many recent significant environmental movements. As scientific data has further ascertained the human impact on global climate change, the push for sustainability has steadily increased. People in all corners of the world have seen mass devastation as a result of global climate change, from economic ruin to war to catastrophic weather events and environmental degradation. As governmental regulations enforce sustainable action like we have already seen through C02 tax implementations in several U.S. states, the need for green building technology will rise. Outside of regulation, we have seen the adoption of sustainable strategies as a result of beneficial subsidies and stakeholder pressures; while from an economic standpoint, many of these sustainable building practices have proven to be economically beneficial. The eco-technologies showcased at the 2015 Greenbuild Conference will be sure to play a major role in the future of building techniques across all venues.