Event – GreenBuild SF Conference

11/14/2012  GREENBUILD Expo Conference in San Francisco

written by Carol Langston


Several members of the internship attended the Greenbuild conference during this week in November. Here is one intern’s account of what it was like:

A group of interns carpooled to San Francisco to attend the conference on Wednesday, November 14th. Our first stop was to listen to the opening plenary speakers in the West Conference Center building. The speakers included “Morning Joe” co-hosts, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, who anchored a discussion with guests: Twitter co-founder Biz Stone; Urban Revitalization Specialist, Majora Carter; Environmentalist, Entrepreneur and Author, Paul Hawken; Kohler Co. President and Chief Operating Officer, David Kohler; and Lieutenant Governor of California, Gavin Newsom. (We missed seeing the guests prior to these). It took place in a very large room, with chairs set up for thousands of guests. After listening to the interesting discussion about all matters of Green economy and idealism, our group went to the first floor to attend the opening of the Expo Hall. Inside we viewed a few dozen booths with innovative products and concepts, such as reused bricks, rainwater catchment products, acoustical paint, and UV-coverings for windows. There was one clever product after another, and surprisingly, no competing products. We spoke with representatives, and picked up marketing materials and/or had our badges scanned for more information.

The Moscone Center South Building

We met up with some other colleagues and had a quick lunch in the South building of the Moscone Center. At 1:30 it was time to attend our first educational session. Most of our group attended the session “Creating Green Career Pathways at Community Colleges”, where we heard how colleges can prepare students for green careers through curricular and co-curricular opportunities. We broke into discussion groups to share ideas of action plans of bringing such opportunities to our communities. (It turns out our LEED Internship is just such an opportunity already in place). 


Van Jones

For the second education session we had chosen different ones. My colleagues went to a discussion of USGBC’s work in Haiti building a LEED platinum orphanage, but my talk was about the role of green buildings in economic recovery, with speakers Harvey Bernstein of McGraw-Hill Construction, Rob Watson of EcoTech Int’l, and Gregory Kats of Capital-E. They talked about, with the aid of many graphs and pie charts, how green building construction remains strong (in several sectors) even though construction activity in general is at an all time low. The takeaway from this was the encouraging news that green construction has been growing and will continue to grow in the next few years. The final session was for most of us, the keynote speaker, Van Jones, the president and co-founder of Rebuild the Dream. To a room of (300?) attendees, Van Jones gave an inspirational talk about how he saw the need to address poverty through good jobs and the environment at the same time. This, he called in his best-selling book, the Green Collar Economy. Those of us who heard his talk were so inspired, “We’re on the right path. Keep going! Don’t back down from the nay-sayers!” 

After Van Jones’ talk my colleagues and I met up again. In the Exposition Hall of the South Building we noticed a huge room of booths we hadn’t even seen before. But, time was up, and it was time to unwind with happy hour. It was a chance to talk and enjoy delicious appetizers and drinks. 

Carol Langston, Eve Olimpo, Lucile Glessner, John Diffenderfer and Anna Harrison

 Overall, Greenbuild was a good experience. It was nice to be in the company 35,000 like-minded environmentalists. We concluded that we spend a lot of time “preaching to the choir” and must continue to reach out with our message. We are called to educate and inspire and not be dissuaded by climate-change deniers or the government (which can be quite resistant to change). Green is about social equity, environmental stewardship, and leaving the world a healthy place for the next generations. 

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