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How many people attended Greenbuild 2010? I've heard numbers varying from 26,000 up to 37,000, either of which is pretty good for an industry still deeply mired in a recession. It seemed crowded, though I heard grumblings from many exhibitors disappointed with the traffic. More upsetting were the people I met who have lost their jobs, some handing out business cards for newly minted green consulting firms. I wish them well.
There were very positive happenings at Greenbuild, mostly in the form of announcements of new initiatives. Here are two.
USGBC has formed the Center for Green Schools to provide all children with sustainably enhanced learning environments. The need is compelling: 20 percent of Americans go to school every day in buildings, many of which are barely built to code.
Green schools not only improve the health and performance of students and teachers, they also make economic sense. "A green school uses less water and energy and saves schools approximately $100,000 a year because it is less expensive to operate. That is enough savings to fund two new teachers, purchase 200 computers or buy 5,000 textbooks."
The Center for Green Schools will engage educators, leadership, and state and local governments to apply research, draft policies, provide trainings and other resources especially "to those who need it most--K-12 schools serving lower income families, under-resourced institutions and community colleges." Terrific leadership, USGBC.
Good news for designers and specifiers: verifying product claims just became easier with the announcement of a strategic partnership between the Healthy Building Network and BuildingGreen. The two organizations most noted for unbiased. taint-free material assessments have linked their web-based green building tools, Pharos, and GreenSpec. A new website, GreenSpecPharos.com will provide access to the combined product databases of the two organizations as well as "a new research collaborative that will focus its work on accelerating the pace of independent research on product toxicity."
Alex Wilson, founder of BuildingGreen, remarked of the partnership, "From the beginning 20 years ago, we understood that our commitment to establishing and maintaining our independence from paid advertising and manufacturing sponsorships would be a financially challenging path. The community has rewarded us with their trust. HBN has been on this same journey." Nadav Malin, BuildingGreen's president added, "HBN's Pharos Project adds a new level of in-depth exploration of the healthfulness and other aspects of products."
All this information in one place! I saw some cool stuff on Greenbuild's expo floor, but nothing as potentially valuable as this.