David Kruse is a man of his word. MCAA is putting together its first-ever green conference, to be held Sept. 24-26 at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, Wis. The conference, “Catching the Next Wave: Seizing the Green Opportunities that Lie Ahead,” is being put together to help members “continue their evolution into cutting-edge green mechanical, plumbing, and service contractors.”
“It’s a bold effort,” said Kruse, “but I believe we need to go beyond half measures to secure our future.”
The preliminary program includes a session with Tom Hicks of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), who will discuss future trends in green and sustainability. Hicks is vice president for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) at the USGBC. Another scheduled speaker is Jerry Yudelson of Yudelson Associates. Yudelson has been involved in marketing renewable energy systems, environmental remediation products and services, and green building design and consulting services for 25 years. His scheduled topic is: “Branding and Positioning Your Green Building Offering.”
David Allen, principal and executive vice president of business development and branding for McKinstry Co., Seattle, is scheduled to identify potential emerging markets in clean technology, which includes energy efficiency, renewables, alternative energy, recycling, and remediation. Matt Gregg, P.E., a lead professional engineer at McKinstry, is scheduled to explore the critical elements required to position a contracting company to win in the green movement.
“Simply put, green and sustainable buildings means work for our industry,” said MCAA’s president.
Also on the agenda is Tim Wentz of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, who will review the basics regarding green and sustainability. He will also put on a workshop covering the LEED-New Construction rating system.
The three-day program would not be complete without a green product showcase, where manufacturers will display some of their latest and innovative green products.
MUST GO GREENIn Kruse’s estimation, turning to green is right for the environment. “Two key environmental trends will change the way we do business,” he said. “To address climate change, buildings must become more energy-efficient, and this industry is uniquely suited to help society achieve that goal. The science on global climate change, while still in its infancy, is sufficiently clear that it would be irresponsible not to take action to reduce the carbon footprint and energy associated with economic activity and our daily lives.”
The second trend, he noted, is that water is becoming increasingly scarce. “As a Californian, I am all too aware that water scarcity will be a driving force in our plumbing and mechanical businesses,” said Kruse. “The Colorado River, the largest in the Southwestern United States, now rarely makes it to the sea - diversions to provide water now routinely drain it dry.
“It has been predicted the water distribution system for the major Western drainages will fail within 30 years. Buildings use 12 percent of all potable water according to the U.S. Geological Service. Our industry will be at the absolute forefront of water reclamation, recycling, and conservation.”
Another reason Kruse is pushing green is because “the economics makes sense.” He noted that public and private owners are turning from a short-sighted view of upfront construction costs to an analysis of the life cycle costs of owning a building.
“The most comprehensive study to date on sustainable and green building practices, conducted by California’s Sustainable Building Task Force, found that an additional upfront investment of about 2 percent of construction costs typically yielded life cycle savings of over 10 times the initial investment. Put another way, an upfront investment of up to $100,000 to incorporate green building features into a $5 million project would result in savings of at least $1 million over the life of the building, assumed conservatively to be 20 years.”
He added, “More importantly from a contractor’s perspective, I believe green building will mean more work for plumbing and mechanical contractors. Our methods will continue to evolve towards more complex and technologically sophisticated systems and can be a profitable and growing part of your business.”
Another reason Kruse is pushing the association to go green is because he believes green buildings may be mandated in the not-so-distant future.
“In some areas, owners may not have a choice, but are being required to build green,” he said. “The General Services Administration, cities signing on to the Mayors 2030 Challenge, and a growing list of other entities are mandating green buildings.”
Kruse said McGraw-Hill projects that by 2010, between 5-10 percent of nonresidential construction starts will be designed using green building principles.
“For many years, the construction industry has been at odds with the environmental movement,” he said. “Now we can be equal partners in the new dynamics of green building.”
For conference and registration information, go to www.mcaa.org/education.