Building Lasting Change
Thanks in part to my volunteering with the Canadian Green Building Council (CaGBC) and the support of my office, ACI Architects Inc., I was able to enjoy a very successful National conference this year. Held in Vancouver, in weather so beautiful so as to tempt one into forgoing the conference, it was amazing with a pre pre-conference reception, a full two-day program of education sessions, guest speakers, expo floor booths and after parties every day. Resisting temptation, I did attend the conference in its entirety, with a few amazing meals in between.
The first day I had the pleasure of representing ACI at the Annual General Meeting at the Pan Pacific hotel. This was followed by a lively reception with copious amounts of food. As I had already eaten a pre-conference meal at a fine local restaurant I was now suffering the consequences of amazingly tasty seafood alongside my lack of self-control. It was an evening of gluttony I will not soon forget.
The Cascadia group provided after parties all three evenings of this conference and I am very grateful for the opportunities they provided to meet some new conference attendees as well as reconnect with some more familiar faces.
We started the second day with guest speaker Jeb Brugmann, author of “Welcome to the Urban Revolution”, and a discussion of his ideas on how cities have evolved and are connected. Comparing examples of what are generally considered successful strategies of development systems with examples of conceived failures in cities, it makes one wish that newer cities would learn from others’ mistakes and fix the problem before it starts.
My first education session was the Green Premium or Brown Discount: Sustainability and the Real Estate Professional. This approached Green Building from the perspectives of Brokers, Managing Directors and Operating Officers and illustrated how they are able to profit through more efficient buildings. Through lifecycle estimates, better material selection at the beginning of a project to decrease maintenance costs, having longer tenant retention, and educating those within their complexes they are able to quantify the monetary benefits of a greener building.
Session number two was Redesigning our Future Cities: Lessons from Europe. I was slightly confused at first by the fashion clips alternating through the presentation, but if you know me and my fashion skills at all, you would know it would not take much to confuse me! This session was interesting as it discussed cities previous issues in transportation, energy consumption and current codes. It reminded us that we need to look forward to create zero carbon footprint cities through energy creation, crosslinking of district systems, and creating a logical flow of the city’s inhabitants.
I spent much of the afternoon volunteering for the CaGBC. I made a quick visit the Expo floor in between my volunteer shifts and must say that there has been a significant increase in products and information available to help anyone submitting projects towards an environmental rating system and for anyone with a general interest in green products.
The afternoon session I enjoyed was How Structural Engineers Use Life Cycle Analysis to Improve Environmental Performance of Buildings. They demonstrated that an engineer can calculate the amount of each structural member with its embodied energy information and use these calculations to determine the environmental footprint of each proposed construction method.
The second evening of the conference was held at the Vancouver Convention Centre West Building, which is a gorgeous LEED Platinum Certified building. We had a lovely awards dinner and a very enjoyable keynote speaker, Robert F. Kennedy Junior. Mr. Kennedy is a professor of environmental law and has long been an advocate for environmental work. He was very compelling and had so many anecdotes that he could have filibustered the whole event. I really enjoyed his speech but the entertainment did eventually come to an end, at which time I headed to Cascadia after-party number two.
The third day began with five speakers on sustainable cities; Shanghai, Seattle, Washington D.C., Vancouver, and Hamburg who each commented on their city’s own methods to try and achieve healthier cities.
The fourth education session was An Equal Challenge: Bringing Healthy Materials to the Mainstream. This session dealt with transparency of materials, listing all manufactured products and chemicals used in construction and encouraging clients to use healthy materials and demand transparency.
The fifth and final education session was The Path to a Green City: The Necessary Plans, Policies, and Implementation Strategies. A representative from the City of Vancouver spoke on the steps being followed to position Vancouver as the greenest city by 2020. It is an aggressive date but many methods are being investigated including Rezoning policy, updating the code, revamping development policy, and adopting a higher building policy, among other methods.
The final afternoon was spent further exploring the Expo floor and enjoying the final Cascadia After Party. The event came to a close and I was very pleased with how my days were spent. I sometimes wish the convention were longer so I could continue to enjoy the vibrant environment of like-minded individuals.
I plan on attending the 2014 National Conference in Toronto and anticipate enjoying it just as much as this year’s. – Trish Bolen