Wednesday, June 17, 2009

GreenBuildingsNY 2009 Conference: thoughts and observations

[1016] Architecture Principal and Inside the Brackets contributor Andrew Wilson, AIA, LEED AP recently attended the GreenBuildingsNY 2009 conference to bring you this first person account.

"GreenBuildingsNY is the place to source green solutions and materials for the
design, construction, restoration, renovation and historical preservation of
existing commercial, residential and industrial buildings. See how eco-friendly
can be economy friendly. Discover how a smart investment on environmental and
sustainability improvements can deliver up to 20–40% risk free return on
investment. NY Metro focused, convenient, and ever evolving, GreenBuildingsNY
provides easy access to more of the green sustainable products and services that
building professionals need."

Overall Impressions:
While I only toured about 50% of the overall conference floor, and this was the first year I attended this event, I did walk almost the entirety of the Green Buildings presenter booths and got a good feel for the show. The quality of the displays and direct applicability to "green" buildings varied extensively and not in direct relationship. In fact, just determining what some companies did was not readily apparent.

Fortunately, I came prepared, having armed myself with a list of exhibitors I was interested in visiting by utilizing the software developed by Map Your Show. Click here to see how it works, though I am not sure how long this link will stay active after the show is done.

Top Five Standout Exhibitors:

Inside the Brackets would like to acknowledge its favorite products/presenters from the show. ITB's selections are based on the following criteria:
  • If the product was new, or just new to me. I didn't waste time going to large manufacturers displays... I was there to expand the options to bring to my clients.
  • How helpful the company representatives were in person. This is a big deal, because I want to work with people who are passionate about sustainability, not just there only to boost commissions (nothing wrong with commissions, though).

  • Quality and utility of product literature and take-away items. Sorry, but I'm not impressed with a pencil with your product logo on it.

  • How likely I am to specify the showcased product(s) in future projects. This probably has the most weight

#5) Mythic Paint:
A direct, and perhaps superior, competitor to Benjamin Moore's premium lines, Mystic touts itself as "the world's only high performance premium paint with zero VOCs, zero toxins, and zero carcinogens."

In addition to their interior and exterior opaque finishes, the company is scheduled to turn out a line of stains sometime this year.

These products will be a welcome addition to designers working in California and some East Coast state which have very tight VOC and air quality standards.

The company's website has an excellent FAQ if you are interested in more information.

#4) Trespa (metal panels):
Honestly, there's really not that much exciting about metal panels, but Trespa gets the nod for providing the most comprehensive design materials as a take away. Inside the Brackets like this.

#3) Leibherr Appliances:
I was quite impressed with the quality, feel, and look of these refrigeration appliances. The door hardware and action exuded cool quality, and the appliances are available in free-standing, built-in, and fully-integrated options to suit the needs of any design.

Leibherr is a German company which has only relatively recently expanded efforts to sell in the United States. They are positioning themselves as competitors to SubZero, but the representative was sure to stress that they are both greener (100% of their models meet or exceed Energy Star requirements, not so for SubZero) and less expensive than their American counterpart. The company has summarized all of the green benefits for owning a Leibherr appliance in their ActiveGreen campaign.

Liebherr proves that green can be beautiful, and less expensive than other alternatives.

#2) Roofscapes, Inc.:
Melissa Muroff, a Roofscapes Principal, displayed both a noticeable passion for the ideas behind green roofs and a high level of technical knowledge about them. Inside the Brackets applauds Melissa and Roofscapes for their dedication to providing it clients the best possible green roof. Since they don't manufacturer any particular system or component, they are able to look objectively at each client's needs and deliver the best solution.

Also, they incorporate maintenance, landscape design, and roofing contractors upon request to provide a fully warranted and performing product. I hope [1016] Architecture can work with this shop on a future project.
This company is in the top spot simply because Inside the Brackets and [1016] believe in their business model and think that companies that educate and outfit existing building owners with more efficient buildings are going to do the most to lessen the impact of our built environment on the earth.

From their website:
"Sustainability Partners LLC is a collaboration of professionals from the architecture, finance, engineering, real estate, and construction industries who have joined forces to reduce energy consumption and stabilize our critical housing resources. We have pooled this expertise so that we may offer practical insights and advice to property owners on how to design and cost effectively implement energy saving measures for their buildings, while also taking advantage of the many powerful incentive programs currently in place to help finance such improvements."
Any existing building owner in New York should contact Sustainability Partners to see if they can help them save money on operating costs by implementing tax-subsidized building improvements.

Did we miss something big? Let us know.

Further commentary:
LEED Platinum and Beyond (Education Session)
Presented by: Chris Benedict, R.A., and Jonathan Rose of Rose Companies
I happened into this education session to take a break from walking the floor and was pleased with the time spent. While the LEED checklist was not really discussed much at all, the presenters definitely highlighted ideas which make up the backbone of the program. In my opinion, it was more interesting this way.

Chris Benedict presented recent projects showcasing her sustainable building science knowledge. Emphasis on strategies for detailing tight, super efficient buildings composed the bulk of her part of the presentation. One of her latest projects is set to meet the Passive Building Standard (Germany), which according to her is one of the most rigorous "green" building standards in the world. For more: Check out this Passive House article by Greenline.

Jonathan Rose brought an intriguing, casual passion to his presentation on building sustainably (by choosing the right development location). He long ago concluded the most sustainable sites to be dense and urban, and has built several companies around the desire to improve and restore cities. This is, of course, a shared belief of [1016] Architecture, and one we have written about before. If you haven't heard of Jonathan Rose, check out his website (linked above).

Inside the Brackets is the blog for [1016] Architecture, Inc. Visit our company's website to find out more. Comments are encouraged. Please join the discussion about sustainability.

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