I attended Greenbuild last week in New Orleans and I saw a number of improvements from last year. I also saw a number of ongoing issues that could help the Green world, if they were addressed.
What was Good About Greenbuild?
1. Hanley Wood and the US Green Building Council did a great job of not just acting Green but being Green with many details of the show. Using Pedi cabs and limiting the amount of paper are just a few examples.
2. They right sized the exhibit hall for more energy. Last year, in Philadelphia, the exhibits were spread out to fill the exhibit hall. They did this by creating very wide aisles that made the show seem empty and dead. This year, they made the aisles the normal width of a trade show and the effect was to raise the level of energy for the show.
3. The exhibitors did a better job of manning the booth with people who could answer very technical questions. They also improved the messaging on their exhibits.
What was Bad About Greenbuild (I mean what could be better)?
1. There is still too much literature given out at the show that probably ends up in the hotel trashcan. It sends the wrong signal for both Greenbuild and the exhibitor. Forget about the Green part, handing out literature is old style marketing.
It’s just another example of how the building materials industry is 10 to 20 years behind today’s best marketing practices. If say you are Green then be Green. Handing out literature is not being Green.
2. Greenbuild and the Remodeling/DeckExpo shows overlapped. For many building material manufacturers this was an unnecessary added expense and challenge. They had to have two booths. Most companies have one person in charge of their trade shows, which makes it difficult to be in two cities at once. There were probably a few manufacturers who would have also come to Greenbuild if it were not held on the same date as the other show.
3. Just like with the AIA show, the attendees come to Greenbuild for the education, which can leave the exhibitors wondering why there isn’t more traffic on the show floor. The exhibitors help fund the event so there should be more ways to encourage more time on the show floor by attendees.
“The Green industry is too cliquey and snobby”
4. The Green industry is too cliquey and snobby. It can get caught up in minutiae so it ends up speaking to itself. This keeps the Green movement from growing as fast as it should. It is not easy for a manufacturer, architect, builder or facilities manager to become Greener if they are just starting to get serious. They don’t know where to start. There are many great educational programs at Greenbuild but they seem to be Masters level programs. That are too advanced for the newbie. A few programs that looked like they would be helpful to someone new were:
- LEED Certification Work Zone
- Myths about LEED
- Demystifying Material Health Assessment
- Big Easy Steps to Energy Efficiency in City Owned Buildings
I think there should be a basics or beginner educational track for manufacturers and for builders/owners who want a better understanding of Green and how to become Greener. This could be promoted, for next year, which would increase attendance and get more people involved in really being Green.
I also have a number of manufacturer clients who should be at Greenbuild. They have exhibited in the past and didn’t see the benefit so they haven’t returned. Once again, they really don’t understand Green and how to participate.
Greenbuild is a great show. I just would like to it do an even better job and to grow as fast as I know it can and should. You may want to read my comments from last year to see what progress has been made.