I spent my Friday morning at the 2010 Built Green Conference in Bellevue. Unfortunately, I had to skip out early. I did spend enough time at the conference to do some valuable things: I heard keynote speaker David Orr of Oberlin College & Conservatory, attended one session on water, caught up with some great people I haven’t seen in a while and got to quickly run through the expo floor.
This is the third Built Green Conference I’ve attended. I went to sessions at last year’s event in Seattle andattended the 2007 event in Everett. Over that time, I think the attendance and focus of the conference has changed a lot. From my perspective, the event has gotten smaller… but more focused. Granted, this is all based on my memory, but in 2007, I remember it as a really large event with a large expo floor and session topics that were all over the place. Today’s event was smaller than what I remember in 2007. But it seemed like the people there had more experience or focused interest in green building. The session topics also provided a great breadth of experience and topics. Again, vendors on the expo floor were more targeted and focused towards green building products and materials rather than just having something to do (hopefully) with something green. Instead of trying to cram tons of topics into a short period of time, this conference seemed like it had thoughtfully gathered speakers and sessions. Then again, this is all just my perception.
Orr’s talk was an interesting one. One of the things I found most perceptive, was his impression of the future. As climate change advances and we begin to see the effects, he said “the biggest issue we face is going to be despair.” To counter that despair, we are going to need hope, he said – not optimism. Today, we are all optimistic, he said, though we don’t realize it. “The sweet spot is hope but hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up,” he said. “Despair you don’t have to do anything. Just sit and marinate.”
One of the things Orr spoke about that can lead to hope, at least in his community of Oberlin, Ohio is something called ‘The Oberlin Project.’ The project, one of 18 projects worldwide in the Clinton Climate Initiative, aims to show new ways that cities can grow in climate positive ways. The project is a revitalization of a 13-area block near the city center that will include the development or renovation of a dozen building in the next five to seven years, according to a press release from Oberlin College.
Orr said we need to move towards this type of community-wide development for green buildings. We’re doing great on green structures and are improving on green neighborhoods. Now, we need to make the next step to looking at the green community, he said.
If you attended, what did you think of Orr’s speak? What struck you most?