CHICAGO - It may seem ironic that a green building event would generate waste, but Chicago’s Greenbuild 2007 did - 44 tons of it, to be exact. But there’s more to that figure than meets the eye.

“Forty-four tons of waste may seem like a lot,” said Dan Bulley, executive director of the Green Construction Institute and chair of the Volunteer Committee for Greenbuild in 2007, “but the conference was a week-long, international conference and expo with an exhibit hall and 25,000 participants - that’s the same size as the population of Edwardsville, Ill. If you do the math, you’ll see that the waste produced in that week amounted to only about 3.5 pounds per person, but with that many people, it added up. Fortunately, we were prepared and knew what to do with it.”

As chair of the Volunteer Committee, Bulley was in charge of 300 volunteers, college students from across the country, who sorted the waste so it could be recycled or composted. For his efforts, the Illinois Recycling Association recently named Bulley as the winner of its Outstanding Large Event Recycling Award.

According to Bulley, 91 percent of the waste, or 40 tons, from the Greenbuild 2007 conference was diverted from landfills. Instead, the waste was recycled or composted.

“Of the 40 tons diverted from landfills,” Bulley said, “seven tons were food scrap and six tons were wood from expo displays in the exhibit hall. The students did an excellent job of manning the recycling stations. We couldn’t have done it without them. The students even showed the conference attendees how they sorted the garbage for recycling.” The conference was held at Chicago’s McCormick Place West, which is a LEED certified green building.

Bulley is also the senior vice president of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Chicago (MCA Chicago), treasurer of the Chicago Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, and a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professional.


The Green Construction Institute was established this year by MCA Chicago to offer educational opportunities in green building. According to Bulley, the Institute helps to keep the association’s member contractors up-to-date with the latest sustainable technology. The Institute also provides green classes for engineers, city officials, building owners, and United Association Pipe Fitters Local Union 597 apprentices and journeymen, among others.

“The demand for green building has been increasing steadily over the years,” said Stephen Lamb, executive vice president of MCA Chicago, “and we’ve been offering an increasing number of classes to meet that demand. When we formalized our efforts by creating Green Construction Institute, Dan was the obvious choice for executive director, since he is dedicated to green building and is our resident expert on the subject.”

Member contractors of MCA Chicago work with the pipe fitters and service technicians of Local Union 597 to build powerhouses that generate electricity; install and service heating and air conditioning systems in homes and buildings; and install piping wherever it is needed, from oil refineries to food-processing plants.

This August, MCA Chicago and the Green Construction Institute will move from their current suite in a downtown Chicago high-rise to their new headquarters in a red-brick, green building, currently under construction in Burr Ridge, Ill.

The association said the move comes at a perfect time: this year, MCA Chicago celebrates its 120th anniversary. “Our move to the new green building marks a new beginning for MCA Chicago,” Bulley said. “I look forward to seeing what the future brings.”

To find out more about MCA Chicago, visit To learn more about green building, visit the green contractor site of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America at

Publication date:07/21/2008