Greenbuild: Cool, Multileveled, and Crowd-Controlled… A Party and a Revolution

Greenbuild Conference & Expo, located in Toronto this year, just closed this past weekend. What I love about Greenbuild is that it is probably the most vibrant, bold, auspicious exhibit of the sustainability movement that I encounter. No little spurts of green here; no hesitation whatsoever about saying “carbon footprint” aloud. This is not your average trade show with only a green pocket kerchief tufting for show. Greenbuild is green through and through.

In the multilevel expo hall, big, recognizable, earthmoving companies like Siemens, Kimberly-Clark, Owens Corning, Johnson Controls, GE, Kohler, Waste Management, Schneider Electric, Moen, Andersen Windows, Armstrong, and United Technologies are out there, showcasing their green wares and working it like it’s a business.

When energized attendees weren’t mulling about the  expo floor, they got engaged at any of 45 educational sessions Wednesday and Thursday, participated in dozens of LEED® sessions the first day of the event, or took tours of cool, LEED® -certified buildings around Toronto.

Controlled throngs filled the Air Canada Centre Wednesday night during the opening plenary, and later, were singing and vibing to the complementary-colored band, Maroon 5.

The only discordant moment came during the keynote speech by NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman, author of Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution — And How It Can Renew America. After expressing disappointment that the Energy Bill and cap-and-trade legislation has not passed, he proclaimed, “We’re not having a green revolution (right now); we’re having a green party. In revolutions, people get hurt.”

I beg to differ, Mr. Friedman. We are having a revolution. It just so happens that we’re also having a party.

After all, the Boston Tea Party was the first act leading to the American Revolution, wasn’t it?

The fact that the green movement has become so successful, as evidenced by the hundreds of glowing exhibitors, 25,000 smiling attendees and a fully attended 5-day event means that we are in the midst of a revolution. That the ecominded no longer have to wear pinched and angry faces means we are experiencing a revolution. The fact that huge corporations are producing energy-efficient, waste-reductive, lifecycle-minded products and services because their customers want them to means we are experiencing a revolution.

Waiting to depart in a 5-hour, serpentine, customs, security, and boarding line while at the Pearson Toronto airport bulging with other Greenbuild attendees who were too stoked to get disorderly just underscores the revolution.

The only thing that was overturned was my strawberry smoothie, but that’s just because I’m klutzy.

Got thoughts? I’d love to hear from you.

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