Candy Change standing before her wall, “Before I die, I want to…”

14 November 2012 Greenbuild 2012 – Looking for love again – from Imogen Schoots: Blazed across an 11-storey vacant building in Alaska, a four storey high sign read “Looking for love again”.

Artist, designer and urban planner Candy Chang was commissioned to create a public art project on the decade long vacant Polaris Building.

What she devised was an interactive project that collected residents memories and hopes for the building. The “Looking for love again” sign acted as an emotional beacon pleading for love and inviting people to come and take a closer look.

At the base of the building chalk boards were erected on a corner. On one wall were the stencilled the words, “My memories of the Polaris Building” and on the other wall was “My hopes for the Polaris Building”.

New Orleans based Chang believes in the potential of introspection and collective wisdom in public space to help us lead better lives, she said during her Master Speaker session at GreenBuild. Chang’s many projects have been designed to spark conversation in public space, providing people with easy and innovative ways to have a voice.

Playing with the idea that buildings have voices, TED Fellow Chang devised a creative way to revitalise the hurricane torn New Orleans that, after Katrina, had left many homes and businesses empty and abandoned.

Chang made blank stickers headed with “I wish this was…” with a space below allowing anyone to say what they would like to insert in the blank space. They stickers were made of vinyl that could be removed and placed elsewhere.  Chang described this as a fun and playful way to figure out a building’s identity or even to give it a new one.

In one instance a person said they wanted a building to be a bakery. In different hand writing, below, another person wrote, “if you finance it I will do the baking”.

“We need to consider how our public spaces can be allocated not necessarily to the highest bidder,” Chang said. “How can we share more with one another?  People around us might be able to help us lead better lives.”

See the website Before I die

Graduates of YouthBuild

On Youthbuild – from  Imogen Schoots – In another session, on YouthBuild, a practical skills development program for disadvantaged or disconnected youth, Ely Flores said the program had been invaluable for him.

“It transformed my life and my community”,  Flores said of his experiences at YouthBuild of which he is a graduate.

The program is targeted to young people between the ages of 16 to 24 in many areas of the US who have dropped out of high school.

The participants, often from low-income homes, are taught leadership skills, often including practical hands-on trades such as to build affordable homes in their own communities.

The program’s emphasis is on leadership development, community service, and the creation of a positive mini-community of adults and youths committed to each other’s success. The program engages around 10,000 youths a year.

“I got into the program because I grew up in this rough neighbourhood. I didn’t graduate from high school,” another graduate, Michael Totten from California said.

“My brother did it before me and it was a success. Seeing what it did for him. I did it last year and graduated. Now I am working for a green company, we rehabilitate forests,” Totten said.

See the YouthBuild websitesee

Greenbuild 14 November 2012 Where ideas come together to have sex

Paul Hawken

The Greenbuild 2012 conference was formally opened this morning through a plenary, in part with presenters from ‘Morning Joe’ a breakfast news program on the American

MSNBC network. Taking the pulse of the green economy in consideration of the environment, green jobs and innovation, a number of green leaders were interviewed. Here is a snapshot.

The former governor of New York, George Pataki said “Sustainability and living sustainably does not have to be about sacrificing and compromising. That is a myth. The key here is innovation. Creating incentives and regulation that are going to drive innovation for better technology that’s not compromising our quality of life. It is the companies that are doing this that are succeeding by demonstrating this every day. So it doesn’t have to be about compromising.”

Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski

Environmentalist, entrepreneur and co-author of Natural Capitalism Paul Hawken responded to a question on the public’s perception of climate change with, “Historically when there have been messengers that threaten the establishment, we’ve killed them – Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King – but in the case of climate change there is no messenger. So instead we’ve killed the message and we have killed it with corporate money, The Wall Street Journal, through the coal industry, to Exxon Mobil. That message and that science has been obliterated by corporate interest. If you see the fall off of public interest on climate change, its due to the overwhelming amount of messaging that is a threat to peoples ways of life. As long as people see that they will react.”

Oakland from dangerous suburb to green and community minded

14 November 2012 – From Imogen Schoots @Greenbuild: “Green building is not just a building, it’s creating a community,” said Mayor of Oakland, Jean Quan at the opening plenary of the national affordable green homes and sustainable communities summit at Greenbuild today.

Representing a diverse community of up to 60 nationalities with a population of around 410,000 Quan agrees with Forbes, recently naming Oakland the nations eighth best place to do business. Oakland has become a regional hub for business specialising in emerging green and clean tech industries in the past few years.

As the poorer cousin across the bay from San Francisco, Oakland is doing a surprising number of initiatives in the affordable and sustainable home space, Quan said.

“The Council has embarked on a number of green housing projects, all of which have been required to be at least LEED silver standard. Oakland provides emergency housing at a facility known as Crossroads.

“It is the nations only housing of this kind that is green.

“The City of Oakland initiated a housing project which provides large homes with four bedrooms to give multigenerational families a stable base. Known as Fox Courts, this housing development, after completion provided a tipping point, sparking additional clientele for businesses in the area such as local restaurants.”

The City of Oakland has promoted community gardens and has close to 100 in the city area. Events to encourage neighbours meeting has been found to increase local safety.

“In a neighbourhood that once had the highest murder rate in the country we have seen that hosting community integration events such as communal looking classes has reduced violence by 50 per cent,” said Quan.

Building Wellness at Via Verde, South Bronx, NYC
From Imogen Schoots @Greenbuild:
“Once the Bronx was burning, now it’s growing,” said Paul Freitag at the US National Affordable Green Homes and Sustainable Communities Summit at GreenBuild today.

Freitag, from Jonathan Rose Companies, presented a view of the Via Verde, a new affordable housing development in New York’s south Bronx region (pictured). This multi-scale housing project which includes many wellness design approaches and features was completed in the US summer of this year (June 2012).

A contaminated brownfield site strewn with rubble and debris has been transformed to a cascading green roofed project with a diversity of housing including townhouses, mid-rise and tower based homes. There are 71 middle income co-operatives and 150 low income rental units.

Considering health issues such as asthma and obesity that are prevalent in the Bronx, the development includes a healthy food store, a health and wellness centre and a fitness centre.

Freitag said Jonathan Rose Companies approached the USGBC regarding the project’s LEED certification, requesting credit for innovation on the integration of design and construct approaches considering health and wellness.

With the backing of the City of New York in the developers approach to the USGBC in consideration of the wellness initiatives, the project has aided Via Verde’s achieve gold-LEED certification.

San Francisco has banned plastic bags, offers and abundance of “organic” everything and great public transport

Monday 12 November – From Tina Perinoto, San Francisco: Media releases to entice interest in some of the 892 exhibitors that will display their wares and skills at GreenBuild started arriving weeks ago.

We’ve just posted an interesting survey from Turner Corporation on the state of green thinking and it seems that developers and those in the development game are starting to say they “get” LEEDS, the US and now global rating certification system, and don’t need its checklists anymore

This is a bit like the move in Australia, as is the concern about energy efficiency, because it saves money, but not so much concern about water because it’s cheap. Green Building Council’s chief executive Romilly Madew remarked to The Fifth Estate that right now  it was “all about cost”.  In the aftermath of the GFC, that’s understandable.

A human advertisement of staff to promote the opening of a new clothing shop in downtown SF

In terms of energy savings though, many people say this will fire up the retrofit market. In the US, it’s already underway, we’re told.

Who’s complaining about the lack of attention to water? No-one, until the drought hits again. And long term the overall sustainability drivers – common sense design, resource efficiency and so on – will kick in again.

Consider GreenBuild.

The expo is a huge investment for the exhibiting companies and many are making the most of it with all the media releases. For the delegates too it’s an expensive investment. Some of the single sessions cost in the hundreds to attend.

The 35,000 people expected to attend clearly see green building as trend that is worth investing in.

But what to chose to cover for our wonderful readers?

In a single timeslot there are multiple wonderful sessions to choose from.

In a planning session with our green-travelling sometime-contributor Imogen Schoots who will help cover the conference for The Fifth Estate, the best to be hoped is that we could dive in and out of some sessions and pick up a few gems.

If you have a preference, we’d be glad to let you influence us.

Here is the online list for Thursday for instance.

And following is a sample of our preferred sessions to cover, from a total of 51 sessions for the day (if we’ve tallied correctly). See what we mean?

D05 – Integrating Environmental Analysis into a BIM Workflow

Joyce Chan, Amy Patel, Paul Stoller

Thursday, Nov 15, 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM – Room 303, South Building

D11 – Using Your Own Power to Transform the Materials Ecosystem

Johanna Brickman, Aaron Smith, Anthony Ravitz

Thursday, Nov 15, 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM – Room 2003, West Building

The buildings are low rise, because of earthquake risk

D10 – Non-profit/For-profit Green Affordable Housing Partnerships

Lucas Hamilton, Carmen Ferrigno, Don Pinkney

Thursday, Nov 15, 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM – Room 2009, West Building

D02 – Solar Policy and Green Buildings: Lessons from Germany

Joanna Gubman

Thursday, Nov 15, 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM – Room 124, North Building

KB04 – Greening America’s Schools—the Costs and the Benefits

Darryl Alexander, Nathaniel Allen, John Diffenderfer

Thursday, Nov 15, 9:00 AM – 9:30 AM – Expo Hall Knowledge Bar – West Building

E07 – Greener buildings through site-specific life cycle analysis

Alexander Stadel, Aysegul Gursel, Eric Masanet

Thursday, Nov 15, 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM – Room 308, South Building

E14 – How to Turn Home Buyers into Green Home Buyers

C.R. Herro, Suzanne Shelton

Thursday, Nov 15, 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM – Room 2018, West Building

E10 – Closing the Circle with Reuse: A Workshop

Shane Endicott, Kevin Lawrence, Ralph DiNola

Thursday, Nov 15, 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM – Room 2009, West Building

E05 – Leveraging GIS in Green Building Creation & Ownership

John Young, Nadja Turek, John Przybyla

The “BART” train from the airport

Thursday, Nov 15, 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM – Room 303, South Building

E15 – Hygrothermal Analysis for High Performance Enclosures

Prudence Ferreira, Florian Antretter, Achilles Karagiozis

Thursday, Nov 15, 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM – Room 2016, West Building

E12 – Implementing District Energy in New Urban Neighborhoods

Llewellyn Wells, Tim Griffin, Mike Opitz

Thursday, Nov 15, 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM – Room 2006, West Building

E01 – GAP: Experiential Learning By Crowdsourcing a LEED Project

Keith Schneringer, Robert Thiele, Doug Kot

Thursday, Nov 15, 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM – Room 123, North Building

XS24 – From Case Study to Mainstream – Barriers and Enablers on the Path to Smart, High Performance Buildings

Casey Talon, Melissa O’Mara

Thursday, Nov 15, 1:00 PM – 1:30 PM – Expo Hall – South Building

F06 – Pushing the Envelope – the need for Enhanced Commissioning

Jamie Mckay, Jeremy Carkner, Kris Draper

A work poster on the BART

Thursday, Nov 15, 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM – Room 307, South Building

F16 – The Building Blocks of Green Neighborhoods: An Interactive LEED-ND-Focused Site Planning Exercise

Meghan Bogaerts, Ramie Dare, Karen Murray, Hagu Solomon

Thursday, Nov 15, 1:30 PM – 4:00 PM – Off-Site F16, Lobby, West Building

F01 – Herding Cats? What Works with Occupants and Energy Reduction

Christine Hammer, Lauren Riggs, Lindsay Baker

Thursday, Nov 15, 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM – Room 123, North Building

F14 – Shelter: How to Destroy the Planet from the Comfort of Home

Eric Corey Freed, Matthew Grocoff

Thursday, Nov 15, 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM – Room 2018, West Building

F11 – EcoBalance and Biomimicry: New Lenses Integrating Cyclical Processes

Kathy Zarsky, Pliny Fisk III, Gail Vittori

Thursday, Nov 15, 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM – Room 2003, West Building

G15 – Turning Turf into a Tool to Manage Stormwater and Nutrients

Stu Schwartz, Zolna Russell, Bill Stack

Thursday, Nov 15, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM – Room 2016, West Building

G10 – Turf Wars: Institutionalizing Green Streets in San Francisco

Rachel Kraai, Kris Opbroek, Adam Varat

Thursday, Nov 15, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM – Room 2009, West Building

H09 – Permaculture: A Pattern Language for Biomimetic & Regenerative Design

Simon Dale, Jillian Hovey

Thursday, Nov 15, 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM – Room 2002, West Building

H06 – Expect the Unexpected:Systematic Post-Occupancy Evaluation

Andrea Trimble, Kevin Bright

Thursday, Nov 15, 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM – Room 307, South Building

H11 – Regenerative Campus Strategies on Two Coasts

Clark Brockman, Chris Garvin, George Salah

Thursday, Nov 15, 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM – Room 2003, West Building

H10 – Frontiers in Finance: New Strategies for Investing in High Performance, Green Buildings

Nils Kok, James Finlay, Chrissa Pagitsas, Chris Pyke

Thursday, Nov 15, 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM – Room 2009, West Building

Another planning session this afternoon (San Francisco time which means the day before for our Australian readers) with green author and keynote speaker Jerry Yudelson will help refine the selection.

Yudelson’s advice? “Plot a stream and stick to it like glue.”

But how easy that will be to carry out remains to be seen.

Distractions abound as well.

Spectacular light fitting made from recycled plastic tubing at Bar Agricole

On Tuesday night local time will be the World Green Building Council/Lend Lease cocktail party at the age old marble clad former bank the Bentley Centre, which event organiser Suzie Barnett (also a consultant to The Fifth Estate) has had styled with vintage furniture and themed areas reflecting a range of global hot spots. Barnett says nearly 300 guests are expected.

We hope to bring you a few snaps to pick up the vibe.

Dinner at the Agricole

Sunday night was dinner at Bar Agricole, the latest, coolest most sustainable venue for green minded diners in in SoMa (south of Market Street) that is LEED rated to boot. Loads of wood panelling (looked like recycled packing cases along the entrance corridor) plus raw and polished concrete, and recycled plastic tubes (yes the really boring ones) recreated as spectacular giant chandeliers.

Barnett, who had liaised at length with the restaurant as a potential cocktail venue for Tuesday night’s cocktails (too small), tells our fellow diners these restaurateurs are serious about sourcing local and sustainable produce, even buying their own piglets which they consign to farmers to bring to fruition. For those unimpressed with such dedication to the plate and the palate, they do a serious line in vegan as well.

Maria Atkinson and Che Wall (ex Lend Lease) chose drinks after dinner to tweet finally the name of their new company or parent company for the “family” of companies that they’ve launched. It’s called XO and pronounced…well… X… O. Imagination about the centre of the X for focus and the O for expansiveness is the key, Wall said.

Also announcing the branding and look of her newest venture was Elena Bondareva, ex Thinc Projects, über networker. The company is called Vivit and the website is

Bondareva just headed back to Australia from San Francisco, missing GreenBuild Aussie friends by a whisker, but is frequently here with clients.