I attended the West Coast Green building conference in San Francisco in September and realized that the posting I started about the conference never made it to the site. I left the event with a feeling that green building awareness had really advanced even in the 12 months I was living outside the country, and it seems much closer to mainstream awareness. Several presenters mentioned that the costs of energy hitting peoples pocketbooks and the growing awareness of climate change have increased attention toward green building in the past 6-12 months.
I was reminded of the topic today when I read an article in the SF Chronicle discussing the plans San Francisco has to become a nationwide leader in green building with its legislation requiring privately developed buildings to meet stringent environmental standards. SF follows several other Bay area cities that have implemented similar regulations as part of their building code. From my notes from a presentation at the green building conference on the new LEED for Homes certification program, I had jotted down that there were 70 local and regional green building programs in the country at the time. The Chronicle article mentioned publishing giant McGraw-Hill suggesting the possibility of 2007 being the "tipping point" for the green building industry in their publicaitons, predicting that green building will become the standard within ten years. According to the National Association of Home Builders survey referenced at the conference, 50% of builders were focusing attention on green building issues in 2006.
One of my favorite quotes about green building from the conference was from Santa Rosa architect Carol Venolia, was "It's not about the materials. It's about how you interact with the natural world." That says it all!