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:

GreenBuild 08, Boston MA: Highlights

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

City of Boston has been deemed by Popular Science Magazine to be the “3rd Greenest City in North America” and was a beautiful locale for the conference. In cold and sunny November, Boston’s stunning architecture, beautiful harbour views, and friendly folks added much to the experience. Being in Boston also brought to life some of my favourite books[1] that were set in the city and its surrounds. Kudos – and thanks - to Conference Chair Jerry Yudelson, the USGBC, Kimberly Lewis, Vice President of Conferences and Events and her organizers, Ashley Katz for facilitative media relations and all the speakers, exhibitors, attendees and volunteers.


Strategic Plan for 2009-2013
Fostering Social Equity was added to the USGBC’s Guiding Principles and is imbued within the
Strategic Plan. Another key strategic issue: “lack of capacity in the building trades to meet the demand for green building.”

CEO Rick Fedrizzi reported that 30,000 were registered for GreenBuild from 80 countries, with over 15,000 people logged in worldwide. Some quotes from his inspirational opening presentation:
· Green collar workers will be the backbone of this economy that we will help create. It will transcend the financial mess we find ourselves in.
· Martin Luther King said we need to move ‘from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society.’ Our values have to include fostering social equity in everything we do, and everything we choose. We are at the beginning of a seismic shift in priorities.
· We must say to those who pollute our land… this will never happen again, not on our watch.
(The new paradigm) is not about Washington, or Wall St. but about us. Change comes from us. We are the people that we have been waiting for. We are revolutionary green.

Leadership Awards
Some of this year’s outstanding winners were Alex Wilson, Executive Editor of Environmental Building News for education, and Davis Langdon for research.


The energy and courage of the
African Children’s Choir was a joyful opener – and closer - for 1984 Nobel Peace Price winner/2007 Gandhi Peace Prize winner, most reverend Archbishop Desmond Tutu. A winsome, formidable speaker, he fed spirits we didn’t know were starved for his brand of radiant insight. He marked the opinion turnaround in response to people concerned about the environment – from being considered a ‘lunatic fringe’ about whom people would ‘nudge-nudge, wink-wink’ to (providing hope). His words are here.

This post is the first instalment of five. Stay tuned!

[1] Apart from works by the renown philosophers and naturalists of the region, here are some by more contemporary authors:;