By: Joe Zazzera, LEED AP, GRP |  November 17, 2009 | topics: GreenBuild

Its 5 am on the Saturday morning following GreenBuild 2009. For the last 6 days I have been fully immersed in the GreenBuild experience.  Next to me sits 3 (one for each of the expo days) stacks of follow-up business cards that require some sort of action or follow-up. Our company provided plant material and deliveries for 4 different booths for the event all of which are members of Green Plants For Green Buildings. Since we were the local company, material for their booths was shipped into our facility where it was stored prior to delivery.  We had a target installation of 6 am Sunday morning, two days before the opening of the EXPO. 1100 vendors and booths, I have never seen such a conference event. On the downstairs level, I am told that some of the booths cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to construct. Incredible.

Our booth came with 75 free expo passes, all of which had to be assigned electronically. I worked hard through marketing efforts to make sure that all passes got assigned and used. Many were assigned and used by civic leaders, university decision makers, construction project managers, non-profit trustees and the like. I knew that if I could get them assigned, I could have 75 new impressions for GPGB. The best part was that their badges when printed said “Green Plants For Green Buildings” along the bottom.

The last number I heard on attendance was just under 28,000 actual attendance. Many times during the expo there were people shoulder to shoulder.  For the expo, I brought in 2 additional people for the booth to discuss GPGB, our mission and distribute literature. Often, each of us was talking to someone different at the same time. The crowd was full of decision makers and people who are steering sustainability goals for their companies and designs. Many were from Government, EPA, researchers, scientists, architects, designers, builders and list goes on

Having attended many of the conference presentations. The common theme seemed to be focused on the Biophilic nature of green building and the further incorporation of it into building design. LEED has spent many years on numbers and science to prove out energy and water savings but a lot less on the human component integration.  This, I believe is changing.

I have never been more excited about the potential of our industry, I believe that our role and industry will change and plants and planted systems will become more integrated into the building system and have a more specific function in addition to the aesthetics.

Plants WILL become a part of the LEED rating system; I had several conversations with employees of the USGBC including their creative director, who state their support for plants and what we do. In fact the new USBGC offices (designed and installed buy Ambius), had originally specified a living plant wall within their new DC office space but was put on hold due to budgetary reasons, sad it has not been built yet but great that we are in their radar.

The first day of the conference I played the Authentically green PowerPoint  (edited for GreenBuild). We had 2 people say that they had received credit points for plants under the ID section of LEED. I am following up on the research of the scorecards and verifying the point awards but if this is so, it removes one more obstacle on our quest. The second day I did away with the PowerPoint (people generally didn’t read it anyway) and on the screen simply put “LEED AP’s- Have you received credit points for plants under ID in LEED? – Please let us know” The prior day had been so fruitful talking to the LEED AP’s that It became obvious that was who we needed to talk to, I decided, if there were more we needed to know so we can make a database.  I am following up on all of these and will report what I find but it looks encouraging so far. During the expo, I only had one objection and question about mold.

Based on my experience at GreenBuild, I am very hopeful for our industry, I believe the growth will be explosive in the future and will lead to additional competition.  Since we are established players, we will be in excellent positions to adapt and grow.