It’s been a rough year for most businesses related to the housing market. However, companies in the “green building” sector have seen sales go up “drastically” and expect demand to climb, according to many such tri-county companies.
Seventy-four eco-conscious businesses gathered at the first-ever BuiltGreen Expo and Conference at Santa Barbara City College on June 13 and 14. It not only showcased the latest and most innovative products in the green building movement, but also gathered some of the biggest leaders in the industry.
“BuiltGreen has really just set a stage. It has provided a foundation for what this community can do,” said Adam Green, program coordinator for environmental studies at SBCC and the program director for the Center of Sustainability. “And really one of the things that we should be most proud of is BuiltGreen is built up of industry leaders. It’s not coming from nonprofits; it’s not coming from academics; it’s coming from people within the industry who have recognized that things need to be different.”
Promoting older ideas in new ways was one of the most common themes among companies present. Tremco, which is based in Cleveland, Ohio, and has an office in Oxnard, manufactures literally “green” roofs – rooftops covered in plants that not only cool down the building, but trap rainwater that gets recycled back into irrigating the facility.
“If you think back throughout history, vegetative roofs have been in place for a long time,” said David Allen, Tremco’s Oxnard representative. “We’re taking it and making a big industry out of it. The concept has been around for ages.”
The conference’s keynote speaker June 13 was Hayward Lumber’s chief executive officer, Bill Hayward. He is also the chairman of the Forest Stewardsip Council, or FSC, meaning in one job, he cuts down trees and the other, he saves them, he noted during his speech.
Hayward has worked tirelessly over the past decade to promote FSC-certified wood, or wood that comes from sustainably managed forests and is legally cut down. He said of all the industrialized nations around the world, the United States is best poised to develop world-changing green technology. And he believes the country is on the cusp of doing so.
“I believe that the summer of ’08 will be indelible in the American people’s minds,” Hayward said. “It will be the summer when fuel prices spiked, and they didn’t go back. Suddenly people didn’t drive to all the places they used to drive and they stayed at home and they thought about it; they thought about home and what’s important to them. And they said, ‘It’s time to change.’”
Some businesses are in the business of helping others become greener. CyberCopy, which has four offices across Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, was at the expo promoting its scanning and digitizing services.
“A lot of offices have had all their paper trail documents for years and years and now they’re running out of room so even the County of Ventura is calling us to scan their documents,” said Annie Choi, CyberCopy’s account manager. She said digitizing documents, particularly blueprints for architects, saves paper and makes the documents more accessible, since they can be e-mailed anywhere in the world.
In an effort to show off its own green moves, the California State government has even launched a Web site to draw attention to its endeavors. The site shows a map of all state-owned facilities that save energy, conserve natural resources and decrease their carbon footprint, meeting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s green building executive order.
“In the bigger picture, what’s happening is people are realizing that building green and designing sustainable projects with low energy use is just good business,” said J. Michael Holliday, principal with JM Holliday Assoc. of Santa Barbara and recently appointed Santa Barbara regional chair of the California Central Coast Chapter of the United States Green Building Council, or USGBC-C4. “With energy prices spiraling out of control day by day, all of us are looking at each other going, ‘If we can reduce energy and save money, why aren’t we doing that?’”
Holliday said one of the main goals of USGBC-C4 is to continue the region’s legacy as a leader in sustainable design. One way in which the chapter plans to achieve that is by offering educational programs to the professional design community and general public.
“I think the main thing is Santa Barbara has been recognized as, if not the birthplace, one of the birthplaces of the environmental movement,” he said. “We’re really looking to continue that legacy and build upon all the other good things going on the community.”
In early July, the area’s USGBC plans to hold its first workshop. Though the topic has not been finalized, it is expected to focus on sustainable design and incorporating green into business.