The brown and dusty environs of Phoenix became lush – at least for a few days last week – as Greenbuild 2009 brought its verdant footprint to the Phoenix C.C. (that’s Convention Center). The annual sustainable construction fest attracted a reported 25,000+ visitors who strolled through two exhibit halls packed with 1800 booths festooned with asparagus and lime and shamrock – and every shade of green in between. Duro-Last was one of them, and we presented our cool roofing and broader sustainability messages.
Most of my time was spent with representatives from the multitude of media outlets that serve the construction and facilities markets. Trade shows provide selling opportunities for those folks as well, and as I buy advertising for Duro-Last, I often feel like a meatloaf sandwich at a wolf convention – there’s no escape.
My informal observation was that the green part of the construction/facilities biz is doing well – or at least showing life. Traffic was strong throughout exhibit hours, even up to when things closed down late Thursday afternoon. And clearly, many exhibitors had spent serious money on their presence – size, shape, sophistication, and staff – to attract buyers to their booths. Can an investment in attending Greenbuild – to either exhibit or be exhibited to – foretell an up tick in our corner of the economy? Many would say yes, especially given that green construction products and practices are becoming easier to cost justify.
My non-scientific study also involved a casual interview with the trash police. I managed to sneak away from the media reps on one occasion for a surreptitious saunter around the show floor and spoke to some college architecture students who were monitoring the trash receptacles. They were ensuring that garbage was separated properly (organics from non-organics, etc.) before being disposed of.
Two young ladies in architecture programs at the universities of Idaho and Southern California were tending one bin. I didn’t get their names or photos, unfortunately. I did get their perceptions of the proceedings, and a couple of comments stood out.
First, they seemed pleasantly surprised that this event had attracted people from all generations. They apparently expected that a show with a green focus would be the province of the young, and perhaps not as relevant for those who have been steeped in more traditional construction practices.
Second, they said it was fairly easy for them to discern those exhibitors and attendees who had a clear commitment to sustainability and those who were merely trying to capitalize on the “green” trend.
I don’t know if they saw a connection between the two – e.g., it’s primarily baby boomers who are just riding along on the green bandwagon. Regardless: it’s clear from the stunning growth of the Greenbuild event – not to mention the enthusiasm of the architecture students – that sustainable building practices are going to be a cornerstone of the facilities world for the foreseeable future.