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GreenBuild 2007 Report From Sonja Persram

Green Building Events

By: Sonja Persram - Monday, December 10, 2007
Source: Sonja Persram

It was a second inspiring GreenBuild for me, in Chicago. Many folks – and I – had not been familiar with the city. Coming from Toronto, I noticed wistfully the great and beautiful variety of architecture; the public accessibility to the waterfront; the publicized civic pride in sustainable buildings; and the broad expanses of native plantings on sidewalks – not just medians - that allowed trees’ roots enough room to take up water. Not at all like the sometimes square-foot, or concrete ‘box’ tree-allowances in T.O.

Some of the outstanding GreenBuild experiences to be had:

President Clinton’s was a rousing keynote presentation, during which he announced:

o The partnership between the Clinton Climate Initiative and GE Real
to green the company’s global $70 billion real estate portfolio.

o The Clinton Climate Initiative, the USGBC, GE Real Estate and the 
   American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment
   (ACUPCC) will be collaborating on a Green Schools Retrofit Program
   for U.S. public and private schools and universities.

o The direct relationship between jobs growth and achieving their GHG 
   emissions target reductions in the UK, Denmark and Sweden.

UTC Chair and CEO George David addressed the GreenBuild audience as founding sponsor of the USGBC’s GreenBuild365, a learning portal on green buildings and their global solutions to climate change. He noted that UTC’s worldwide GHG emissions were internally audited to be 2% of global GHGs. David decried the inefficiencies in current energy use: “91 percent of total energy coming out of the ground is lost or wasted before it becomes useful work,” he related, and cited three examples and solutions:

  • Central power plants typically lose 50% of energy consumed to waste heat, contributing to their energy conversion efficiencies in the 30% range. UTC’s solution: on-site generation to capture the waste heat, resulting in efficiencies over 75%.

  • Given the Newtonian principle that energy is transferred, not lost, the acceleration and deceleration of an object (plus inefficiencies/losses) sum to zero. UTC’s Otis Elevators is applying this principle in capturing the energy required to ascend elevators, during the downward deceleration segment of their elevator cycle. This system results in a 75% higher efficiency in electricity use now compared to elevators having the same speed and load ten years ago. Their regenerative office highrise elevators carry 1 million pounds in daily loads for $1 US/hour in energy.

  • 15% of the energy consumed within commercial and residential buildings owned by companies in the World Business Council for Sustainable Development is for heating hot water. Instead of adding heat to water, their method calls for applying the heat transfer system efficiency used in air conditioning (whereby energy used to transfer heat to the outdoors from inside is 25% the heat energy transferred). Consequently the energy used would be reduced to ¼ the current consumption, i.e. “more than a 10% reduction in energy consumption in total for buildings which themselves account for 40% of all energy consumption worldwide. Paybacks for systems like this are about three years at current energy prices.”

Quoted by Rick Fedrizzi: (the goal is) “green buildings for everyone within a generation.” …

“Green Collar jobs are the kinds of jobs that can bring prosperity to American communities that today are languishing because of flat wages, and economic stagnation. Think about disadvantaged youth, or returning servicemen and women, those whose outsourced manufacturing jobs left them economically stranded. With more than 100 million individuals employed in the building and construction industry today… Just think about what we could accomplish if we all embraced that vision. … Let’s also not forget that Green Affordable Housing must be a part of this equation.”

The WorldGBC, USGBC and iiSBE co-hosted the International Forum on November 6. A real highlight was the opportunity to meet delegates and hear their challenges and national drivers.

  • Janice Perlman, Founder & President of the Mega-Cities Project noted that, of all international aid only 10% is directed to cities, although 60% of people in rural areas have moved to urban centres. Check the site’s 40 urban innovation transfers - microsolutions that if communicated virally, can be transformative transnationally: “Increase grassroots innovation (and achieve a) vibrant civil society.”

Fireman’s Fund has a variety of green products. One noted by Steve Bushnell, CPCU, ARM, Product Director, Real Estate Innovation, Commercial Business: Green-Gard™ Certified Green Building Coverage of a Certified Green Building extension for property owners of certified green buildings. Owners experiencing a loss are covered for replacement and rebuild of measures including green roofs and alternative power or water systems. There is coverage for contractor oversight by a USGBC accredited professional, loss of income from interrupted on-site power generation, waste removal and recycling, and certification of the project given new specs. And, owners of green-certified buildings can get as much as a 5% discount on general business insurance. Impressive.

Among the notable USGBC Leadership Award recipients was the Development Centre for Appropriate Technology’s co-founder and Director David Eisenberg, whose work included facilitating sustainability into building codes, persistent codes advocacy with municipalities, and educational initiatives for green builders and mainstream industry nationally and globally.

Interesting Product: American Clay, combining natural clays, aggregates that are recycled/reclaimed, and warm, natural colours to create an earth plaster that is tactile and exquisite. Also positively reviewed by Canadian home energy evaluation award-winning Ross Elliott and Kathryn Elliott, co-owners of Homesol Building Solutions.

GreenBuild 07, Chicago: a successful event.

Next GreenBuild stop: Boston, November 19-21, 2008. See you there!!

Green Syndicated Columnist Sonja Persram is author of: Green Buildings: A Strategic Analysis of North American Markets for Frost & Sullivan (published Aug 06) addressing Energy, Water and Facilities Management; and the U.S. portion of International Sustainable Building Policy Initiatives, a study for Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation whose project lead was Nils Larsson, iiSBE Executive Director. She was a member of the City of Toronto’s Green Development Standards Working Group. Contact: Sustainable Alternatives Consulting Inc:

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