PHOENIX - A splashy opening celebration at Chase Field kicked off the 8th annual Greenbuild conference and expo, which was recently hosted here by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The ceremony featured a keynote address by former Vice President and noted environmental advocate Al Gore, as well as a musical performance by Sheryl Crow and an address from USGBC President, CEO and Founding Chair, Rick Fedrizzi.
Greenbuild is advertised as the world’s largest green building conference and expo, and one need only look at the trashcans placed liberally around the Phoenix Convention Center to see that the event takes its name seriously. Each “recycling station” had attendants (or garbage police, as one attendee called them) standing at the ready to ensure that attendees properly placed all waste into the appropriate receptacle - organic, paper/glass/cans, plastic, and trash.
With garbage safely stowed, more than 20,000 representatives from all sectors of the green building industry were free to move about the 1,800 exhibitor booths on the show floor. Other highlights of the three-day event included educational workshops, a green jobs fair, and numerous opportunities to explore new products and exchange ideas with other professionals.
RESIDENTIAL SUMMITGreenbuild hosted its second annual Residential Summit this year, which featured two days of green-themed workshops on various homebuilding topics. The summit was kicked off by a panel discussion titled Greening Our New Housing Stock: A Discussion Across Multiple Sectors. “Renovation Nation” host Steve Thomas hosted the panel, which featured Tedd Benson from custom home builder Bensonwood Homes; Tom Toomey, president and CEO of UDR Inc., a builder of multi-family housing; and Rick Andreen, president of Shea Homes, a production home builder.
Thomas started off the session by stating that everyone involved in the homebuilding industry has all the tools needed to create zero-impact homes, and now is the time to push forward with this movement. “We need to get to work. Hope is not a strategy. We need to actively educate people on what green building means.”
There are basically six rings of green building that need to be understood, said Thomas:
•Workmanship:Detail work that goes into a building so that it costs less to operate;
•Materials:Supply chain issues such as manufacturing costs and the total impact of all materials in the building;
•Health:IAQ, VOCs, toxicity issues, and coatings;
•Design:Subtotal of all design issues; and
•Connectivity:The location of the building relative to work, stores, and community.
Benson discussed the need to reboot homebuilding in order to make it the noble profession it used to be. “Our industry is underperforming,” he said.
“Studies show that 15 percent of new homes are seriously defective. For the last three decades, our industry has regressed. We’ve fought every code and regulation that would have moved us forward. Our industry has wanted ceaseless growth and unlimited profitability, without any regard for the environment. We have to build real, long-term value once this recession ends. Our common mission is more important than our competition.”
“Unfortunately, the short term always wins,” said Benson. “The home theater wins out over a better building that uses less energy. This has to change. The high performance aspect of a building must be sacrosanct. We can’t reboot the industry without demanding and facilitating more training and discipline from the building trades. Discipline, education, and integrity need to be restored to this noble profession.”
Andreen noted that green homes are expensive to build and that Shea Homes currently loses money on some of the aspects of its green-certified homes, which feature 3 kW photovoltaic systems, low VOC paints, solar attic fans, and other energy-saving products. “Profit is not evil. We are trying to figure out how to deploy technologies in order to make green housing more affordable.”
To that end, Andreen would like to see the government offer energy-efficient mortgages, which would allow the money saved from future reduced energy costs to increase the purchasing power of buyers. “HERS-adjusted mortgages may cost more initially, but buyers would have lower operational costs in the long-run.”
ON THE FLOORThe show floor at Greenbuild featured a dizzying array of sustainable products - everything from bioroofing systems to synthetic lawns to lead-free faucets to eco-friendly flooring. Energy-efficient HVAC equipment was also showcased, and some of the highlights are listed below:
Rheem Mfg.(www.rheem.com) featured many different high-efficiency products, including geothermal heat pumps, the SolPak active solar water heating system, and the new HP 50 heat pump water heater. Ed Raniszeski, director of corporate marketing communications, stated that Rheem felt that Greenbuild would be an excellent opportunity to educate builders about the company’s line of whole-home comfort and commercial solutions.
Greenheck(www.greenheck.com) emphasized several different energy-efficient products, including the Vektor energy recovery laboratory exhaust system, which achieves energy recovery efficiencies up to 50 percent to lower heating and cooling costs. The Sure-Aire airflow monitoring system was also on display, and product manager, Dawn Genrich, stated it is ideal for HVAC applications where flow verification is required for proper system balancing, improving air quality, and controlling industrial processes.
TheMcQuay(www.mcquay.com) Magnitude chiller was featured, and spokesman Dave Martin said the high-efficiency chiller line is now available in sizes ranging from 400 to 500 tons. Also highlighted in the booth was the Daikin AC (www.daikinac.com) Altherma air-to-water heat pump system, which provides year-round heating, cooling, and domestic hot water.
Trane(www.trane.com) unveiled its Architect Site, www.tranearchitect.com, which is designed specifically for architects. Online resources are designed to help architects develop building designs that focus on comfort, control, efficiency, acoustics, and sustainability. Also highlighted in the booth was the XL20i air conditioner, which territory manager, Erik Lander, stated is one of the most efficient residential air conditioning systems available.
ClimateMaster(www.climatemaster.com) showcased its Tranquility 27 two-stage water-source heat pumps, which are available in sizes ranging from 2 to 6 tons. Spokesman, Lloyd Pike, said that thanks to the federal tax credit, “Business is exploding,” both on the residential and commercial side. The Tranquility 27 is eligible for additional LEED points because of its green technology design.
GrayWolf Sensing Solutions(www.wolfsense.com) featured its portable, mobile PC-based indoor air quality monitors, as well as the WolfPack Area Monitor. Laura Greene, territory sales manager, stated that the company’s portable instruments meet the need for measuring total VOCs, carbon monoxide, particulate, and formaldehyde, per USBGC’s LEED IEQ Credit 3.2.
FHP Bosch Group(www.fhp-mfg.com) highlighted its Aquarius II water-to-water two-stage heat pump. Mark Sullivan, regional manager, stated that the heat pump is ideal for pool and spa heating, snow melt, domestic hot water, and radiant floor heating and is available in sizes ranging from 2 to 6 tons.
Aquatherm(www.aquathermpipe.com) previewed ClimaSystem, a radiant system used throughout Europe but new to the United States. The system will likely be fully launched in early 2010, said Steve Clark, P.E.; president.
Optimum Energy(www.optimumenergyhvac.com) demonstrated how its software, OptimumHVAC, helped buildings earn more LEED points by increasing the facilities’ Energy Star ratings. The software also helped with commissioning, performance measurement and emissions reduction reporting of HVAC systems, said Nathan Rothman, president and CEO.
Next year’s Greenbuild will be held Nov. 16-19, 2010 in Chicago at McCormick Place. For more information, visit www.greenbuildexpo.org.