Greenbuild is upon us again and I find myself using a different strategy this year, trolling the sessions for people rather than subjects. Not surprisingly, I’ve found that interesting speakers are the source of unexpected subjects and some more frequently surprising connections. Thankfully, Greenbuild still offers a great opportunity to hear from an unparalleled variety of them.
Highest on my list of people to see is Paul Hawken and his talk at the closing plenary this year. Hawken is the author or co-author of several books that have quite literally transformed the culture of the sustainability community. If you haven’t already read them, I recommend Natural Capitalism, The Ecology of Commerce, and Blessed Unrest, to name a few. Hawken has spoken before at Greenbuild, but unlike some even very good speakers, he is not the sort to trot out the same bullet points each time. This year, there are signs that he will speak about a tremendously exciting project to develop an inexpensive PV product based on green chemistry and biomimicry principles.
Biomimicry is a very quickly moving field with an enormous amount of potential. As a result I will be front and center for the Evolution of the Biomimicry Approach session featuring Jane Suri from IDEO and Karen Davis Smith from Jones + Jones, people I wouldn’t normally get a chance to hear from.
Money remains the dominant factor in almost all human endeavors as it is the resource that allows our big ideas to move forward. But the different languages spoken by the green building and finance industries are still a huge hurdle. Roger Platt of the USGBC will moderate a panel tackling this subject head-on through the prism of Responsible Property Investing (RPI). The panel, Investing in Green, includes Lauren Miller from UNEP’s Principles for Responsible Investment group and David Wood from the Hauser Center at Harvard.
Because New York City has lately had its share of innovative affordable housing projects, I sometimes forget that other people are doing great work in the field as well. I am interested in hearing about some Chicago success stories at the LEED for Neighborhood Development: Creating Green Affordable Housing Neighborhoods session, moderated by the remarkable Doug Farr, author of Sustainable Urbanism.
I will try to provide updates throughout the conference, so please drop by our booth (#291) if you have a moment.