Thursday, November 27, 2008

GreenBuild 08, Boston MA: Highlights – part 2

By Sonja Persram, BSc., MBA, LEED® AP
Sustainable Alternatives Consulting Inc.

The INTERNATIONAL FORUM was hosted by the USGBC, the
World Green Building Council (WGBC), and the International Initiative for a Sustainable Built Environment (iiSBE).

Of interest were the juxtapositional presentations on
Windmill West’s Dockside Green project by Joe Van Belleghem, and journalist Tim Lesle’s Frontline story on Huangbaiyu, a collaborative development between William McDonough + Partners and China.

Van Belleghem noted Dockside Green’s triple bottom line focus on factors facilitating community - such as addressing
nature deficit disorder and social equity issues related to green jobs and to the site’s formerly being native lands - has contributed to cost savings on entitlement (due to lack of opposition), construction and marketing.[1] These in turn have led to a 250% sales increase from October to November. He stated that the key to sustainable development is to “unlock the human potential that we have within us to do what is right.”

By contrast, Lesle presented his observations of how the Huangbaiyu project’s implementation fell short of their sustainable goals. And, in the Q&A session, a representative from McD+P stated that the firm acknowledged this
result, noting the detrimental impacts of the need for translation.

Some lessons learned from the two scenarios:

· “in some ways, farmers’ days are numbered” in the same way as the classic family farm in the west.
· “it’s not enough just to have translation.” It’s important to employ translators, and the translation then “must represent (the company’s) interest.”

Van Belleghem noted some market transformation indicators:
· “local developers want to participate.” “Large developers initially come for solutions” e.g. about technology – but leave with more understanding of the values shift underpinning
· They’re “getting rid of the stigma that green costs more”
· The “suburban lifestyle will die.” “We need to have a conversation about how we fix suburbia.”

John Hynes, President & CEO of
Gale International, described the company’s master plan for Songdo City, a joint venture with POSCO E&C in a $20 billion private development in South Korea. The project’s goals: 42 million sf LEED-ND certified, with cogen hydrogen, 75% construction material recycled, low VOCs, and a city-wide procurement/recycling initiative. One of the turning points for transformation was the need for enhanced infrastructure as many in the nation’s rural communities migrate to cities. The project is intended for multi-national firms which would be expected to hire about 95% Koreans and 5% ex-pats from other countries. A cost premium of 5-15% is budgeted for the project.

Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, UAR, is intended to be the first zero-carbon, zero-waste, car-free city. 6 million sf is under development at a cost of $22 billion over 8 years, for 50,000 residents and 40,000 commuters, with a 135 person/ha density. The project is being conducted with the support of WWF and One Planet Living, with a goal of being a global hub for “cleantech education, R&D, and production,” according to Director of Property Development Khaled Awad.

Wang Shi, founder of China’s largest home builder company China Vanke Co. Ltd., presented real estate data interspersed with images of his mountain climbing achievements (he scaled Everest and Kilimanjaro, among others). Chinese currency is the China Yuan Renminbi; 1 CNY/RMB is $0.146372 USD,[2] consequently the 2007 China housing market revenue at 2.5 trillion RMB is $365.93 billion USD. He also noted that 10% of China’s rural population migrates to cities annually.

I posed some questions in relation to recognition of value in a Deutschebank initiative, which will be addressed separately, post-GreenBuild.

A poignant moment at the
Lend Lease international reception was a serenade by incoming WGBC chair Tony Arnel of GBC Australia with GreenBuild chair Jerry Yudelson and ‘outgoing’ WGBC chair Kevin Hydes (known for his songfests).

This post is instalment #2 of 5. Stay tuned!

[1] See also:

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