Dwayne Fuhlhage, PROSOCO’s director of regulatory affairs, is attending GreenBuild. He offers this report from day 2.
GreenBuild Conference: Day 2
by Dwayne Fuhlhage, CHMM; Regulatory Affairs Director
I just completed Day 2 of the GreenBuild conference. My education sessions for the day were focused on green building codes and indoor environmental quality (IEQ).
But first, yesterday I promised photographic proof of the strumming USEPA program manager.
I think it fair to say that the green building movement is populated by a group of very intelligent and iconoclastic people. And that’s actually the best part of being here for me. Over the last couple of days I met up with people I work with in ASTM and NSF consensus standards.
We had great conversations on how green products and concepts have come along in the last few years and where we think things are headed in the next few years.
Gazing in the crystal ball is a tough exercise. The whole purpose of LEED standards was to create market transformation. In 10 short years, we stand on the edge of the first statewide green building code, CALGreen, and the approach of the first national green building code, the IGCC. The market has indeed transformed.
PROSOCO President David Boyer asked me for a takeaway from the education sessions I’ve attended thus far. Here it is: the definition of green and sustainable construction is being written and rewritten every day by what essentially counts as an insurgency.
Here are a few stories that drive that home for me:
This morning I learned about the new New York City green building codes – total shock on this one. I wouldn’t normally think of NYC as being an insurgent organization, but they took a long look at LEED and the developing ASHRAE 189 standard and decided neither was a good fit. So they did their own stakeholder process and created their own standard. Will they adopt the IGCC in 2012? Sure doesn’t sound like it.
During lunch today with the co-founder of Berkeley Analytical Associates, I learned that the IEQ standard our Consolideck products are tested to was the brainchild of four primary authors that pushed it through. Berkeley Analytical, with all of 12 employees, was a major part of that.
At the Master Speaker’s panel, one of the guys behind the original Dyson bagless vacuum cleaner referred to it as “disruptive technology.”
They rolled the product out to great skepticism – everyone used vacuum cleaners with bags – why would anyone want to make the switch to this strange, unproven technology? The punch line: within 18 months it was the best-selling vacuum cleaner in America. He fully expects the evolution of green products to move along in fits of disruptive technology.
The speakers yesterday promoting energy use labeling for houses – insurgents all. From their perspective, a focus on using cheap off-peak energy just because it is there isn’t good for the environment. Their ultimate goal is to use labeling as a means to let consumers decide how much actual energy they want to use and whether that is a deciding factor in buying a home.
By all accounts, PROSOCO is a participant in the insurgency. Several years ago, we rewrote the specifications for silicate densifiers. Smart consumers picked our lithium silicates because they didn’t require as much work or generate a lot of rinse water. I was pleased to learn that the Consolideck side of our booth was getting a lot of traffic.
Polished concrete was big news in the green product trade journals two years ago and then they moved on. I walked by competitor’s booths that were totally devoid of traffic. Our brand and our message are sticking in an ever shifting market place.
We’ve been working to rewrite the rules on air barriers for several years. It’s crazy that energy modeling doesn’t count air infiltration reductions in the overall building equation. You know what, there’re plenty of forward thinkers in the green building movement who see the sense behind the technology and are moving on regardless of what the models say. They want real energy-use reductions.
Our alignment with BEI is all about moving the bar up yet again. The small-scale chamber in our booth drew lots of attention. When visitors found out we’re collectively set up to test entire wall assemblies they got downright excited. Yes, the highest performance products cost more money and you can’t see them behind the siding material.
In LEED V3, there’s no credit for upping the ante on envelope design. But designers and builders know all about the cost of envelope failure – rotten wood, mold and all.
My last thought for the day comes courtesy of the Chief Building Inspector for San Francisco during the session on CALGreen. He pointed out that he is not part of the design team. When he picks on architects, it’s because he considers his customer to be the building owner 30, 40 or 50 years from now.
He already is seeing failures of green products in buildings put up in the last ten years. He’s seen buildings go through three sets of windows in the span of his 30-year career.
The message to me is that the marketplace is ready for the next steps in high-performance product evolution. I’d say building walls that can weather hurricane-force wind and rain is a good start. Being part of the insurgency is a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun.
And what conference blog would be complete without a parting shot: