Big Ideas from Greenbuild

I spent a wonderful week in LA attending Greenbuild 2016. What did I come away with? ZERO.

As in net-zero. As in net-zero energy, net-zero water, and net-zero waste. This was a strong theme running through the sessions. Being a little more efficient and doing less harm is not good enough anymore. The talk is about getting to net-zero and then stepping over the line to become net-positive.

Project teams are starting to tackle this challenge head-on with surprising results. Technology is getting better, but the real key is a disciplined integrative design process that gets us past the barriers of standard practice into true high performance territory. My friend Lance Hosey from the GSA reiterated the country’s largest landlord’s commitment to push all new government buildings in that direction. He is in the process of updating GSA design guidelines to incorporate net-zero performance requirements. A good article from last year about GSA’s interest in net-zero can be found here: ENERGY.

The next frontier is net-zero water. Development of innovative water solutions has lagged behind innovation in the energy sector, but with the extended drought in many parts of the country and the impact of climate change on water resources and infrastructure, interest is bubbling to the surface. Net-zero water aims to create buildings that are self-sufficient for their non-potable water needs through a combination of aggressive conservation, water harvesting, and water reuse. The work I have been doing with the Brita Safe Drinking Water Team for XPRIZE dovetails with current green building interest in breaking through technical and regulatory barriers associated with water quality, treatment and water reuse. An interesting overview of net-zero water issues can be found here: WATER.

The newest wrinkle in this trilogy is the newly announced alliance between the US Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) and GBCI. GBCI will be administering a third party Zero waste facility certification program and promoting zero waste principles. I know you think this is all garbage, but really, it’s exciting stuff! Zero waste has huge potential benefits to business operations, not to mention benefitting the environment. It will be interesting to see how the zero waste movement gets going. More about the USZWBC can be found here: WASTE.

So this is the first of the take-aways from five days in the glitz, grime, palm trees, and traffic they call the City of Angels.

More to follow.

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