Green Builder® Coalition exhibits at Builders’ Show
The Green Builder® Coalition made its public debut at the 2011 Builders’ Show. Utilizing a laptop, a graphical banner and an informational flyer, Coalition staff members had nearly continuous conversation with show attendees. We were able to make contacts in the building, design, education and non-profit sectors. In total, the booth garnered over 500 leads. The organization shared space with Green Builder® Media and the newly-opened Green Builder® Store and the synergies benefited all three entities.
The Green Builder® Coalition raised some eyebrows when it delivered public testimony at the August IGCC public comment hearing. We spoke in support of the inclusion of residential in the ICC’s International Green Construction Code. Along with DOE, our testimony opposed a proposal that was heavily favored by NAHB, USGBC, WDMA and others. After its deliberation, the IGCC Development Committee voted overwhelmingly in favor of our position. While this is a small initial victory for the Green Builder® Coalition, it was a larger victory for energy efficiency.
The Green Builder® Coalition returned to the code arena again in October 2010 at the ICC Final Action Hearings in Charlotte. In addition to DOE, AIA, the New Buildings Institute and the Energy Efficient Codes Coalition, we spoke in favor of a model code that is at least 30% more energy efficient than the 2006 model code. The proposal passed, in the face of opposition from NAHB, BOMA and others.
Lester Brown is a sustainability expert, esteemed author, and founder of the Earth Policy Institute. He also had the honor of kicking-off the Impact Series with his presentation, titled: “World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse”. Co-sponsored by the Green Builder® Coalition, it provided attendees an insightful look into the various factors that are contributing to erosion, increased global food demands and dwindling food supplies. In case you missed the webinar, it is available on-demand here.
As I Am…
Each issue, we’ll sit down with a green building professional to gain a personal insight into their motivations, inspirations and experiences. This issue, we feature R. Chad Ray.
The Torch: What motivated you to enter the sustainability industry?
Chad Ray: I have been building and developing full time for 15 years, and since my mother and father started the company, have really been involved in some capacity my entire life. But in 2002, I really started to question my long term career path because environmental, habitat and other stewardship issues were a very important part of who my wife and I wanted to be personally. Please understand, we always tried to care for our environment, just not with direct intent and knowledge. My parents raised me to always take care of my surroundings, both the people and the natural world as well. We just did not know there was such a thing as a “green builder” or formal programs like Energy Star.
In 2004, I went to a green building conference in Austin, TX to see if it was true; “Could I make a living while also doing so much about the issues so important to me?” My dad told me there was going to be just a bunch of hippies there, but encouraged me to go anyway. When I got to that conference, my mind and soul were really turned on like never before. Instantly, I knew this was the perfect career for me and this was the way our industry had to go. One of the people who inspired me so much at that conference was some “hippie-looking dude” from Seattle named Ron Jones. I listened to the words he spoke like a preacher at revival. The truth is, I was motivated immediately to make a difference for people, planet, and all forms of profit for the rest of life.
TT: Describe your first green project. Did you encounter any hurdles on that first project? If so, how did you overcome them?
CR: The first green house we built, we all were like a fish out of water. I wanted to do the right things, but didn’t have a clue how. The smartest decision I made was to hire Bob and Maria Kingery. They had just started a small “mom and pop” company like mine that focused on many facets of energy efficiency, but mainly certifying green homes for builders. (That company, Southern Energy Management, now employs over 100 people and is one of the leading companies of its kind in the nation.)
My parents hated the changes we were making… even more than our trades did! You see, after building a certain way for 30 years, it becomes real comfortable. When someone teaches you there are updated and improved methods to certain aspects of your homes, sometimes that’s hard to take. Many issues like blocking, air sealing, and backing knee walls were strange to us. A sealed crawlspace was the worst idea my mother ever heard of. Never before had we considered less wood could be better or recycling our waste.
It’s very possible to get overwhelmed. We didn’t build that first green house perfectly. We still don’t. Our goal is constant improvement on every house. We walked for a year or two. Now, we’re jogging along pretty well. It took a while for everyone to see the future is brighter for all building green. Today, there are no better advocates of green building than my parents.
TT: What building product or technique do you think will be the next “game changer”?
CR: I believe the wall panel industry, engineered lumber systems, and anything else that cuts time, waste and inefficiency down will be powerful. Obviously, any products or techniques that affect how we can decrease our energy and water consumption will continue to become more and more important.
I feel the real future and game changer for our industry will be integration of systems and flexibility of the structures themselves. Homes will have to adapt to technology change, lifestyle change, fuel source change, and things we don’t even know about yet. We have to plan more for the future and less for the day we hand over the keys as builders and trades.
TT: Who inspires you the most?
CR: I’m often inspired by someone on a daily basis. If I am not, it is because I am not looking for inspiration. We live in the greatest country in the world. We have the greatest opportunity to move the entire world forward to a more sustainable future. I see and read about others doing good for all living things, our planet, and so much more every day, when I look for it.
I believe the greatest challenge we all face is paying the price today so others don’t suffer tomorrow. If we simply ask them, our soldiers, doctors, nurses, green builders, teachers and so many others can show us all how to live like that.
TT: If you had it to do over again, what profession would you choose?
CR: I think I am doing exactly what my Creator intended for me to do. I realized that when I started building homes that make a difference in everyone’s lives. If I was made to do something else, I guess I would enjoy being a PR person or fundraiser for a children’s hospital or something of that nature. I love working with people that are on a single mission to make the world a better place.
TT: What do you enjoy the most when you’re not at work?
CR: I enjoy being with my wife and family more than anything in the world. We live on a farm and raise many kinds of animals and vegetables. I enjoy taking care of them, our wildlife on our property, and being a good steward of the land.
TT: What’s the most important piece of advice you’d like to pass along to others?
CR: No matter what you do for a living, try to find your passion. You will make more “life”, even if you don’t make more money, when you live every day for the things that make you want to get up and make the world a better place.
Green Builder® College is the first online training program to offer certification and continuing education to professionals in the residential building market. This educational platform satisfies a growing need for unbiased information on sustainable development. The program currently includes the Green Builder® Certification program, and also offers continuing education credits, providing an ongoing source of professional development.
Train of Thought
Last month’s Builders’ Show was my 10th consecutive, and over those 10 years I have seen the show and the attendees’ mentalities change quite a bit. Allow me to explain.
Back in 2001 and 2002, the show wasn’t overbearing yet. The size was such that it could still be held in Atlanta, though it was really pushing the exhibit limits of that city. Those two years, I saw a lot of people who would browse the show as if they were walking through the mall. People would walk up and down most aisles, and spend 3 or 4 days doing so. Families would be in tow, and the mood was much more relaxed.
In the years spanning 2003-2008, the show just exploded in both attendance and exhibit space. It got so expansive that one couldn’t treat it like the mall, unless you’re a big fan of the Mall of America. Instead, attendees had to adapt during this period by making “grocery lists”. Resembling heat-seeking missiles, people made bee-lines from one booth on their list to the next, rarely stopping by a booth that didn’t make the cut.
Then, from 2009-present, the size of both the show and the crowd has dropped off dramatically. People still have their shopping lists, but they do that because they are only spending one or two days at the show and don’t have time to lazily stroll around. Time is money, and while they may have a lot of the former, they don’t have a lot of the latter due to the economic conditions of the past 3+ years.
One of the few positives of the downturn is that it has produced a serious show attendee. You don’t see a lot of “tire kickers” on the floor any more. There are the occasional grab-and-run attendees, but that is confined mostly to the last day. And, I believe the general public can still buy tickets to the last day or two, which creates an opportunity for some freebie-seekers. However, I feel the overall quality of the attendee has steadily improved from 2006 to present.
That brings me to the 2011 show. Attendance estimates were between 45,000 and 50,000, depending on who you asked. That’s an all-encompassing number, which means exhibitors are included in that figure. I’m fine with that number, since anyone can join the Coalition. But, if you’re an exhibitor looking to do business with non-exhibitors, then you probably need to reduce the overall total by 30-40% to get to a non-exhibitor, attendee estimate.
Exhibit space was obviously going to be down from 2008, the last time the show was in Orlando. A Freeman rep told me inbound freight was off 40% from the show’s previous visit to Florida. That makes perfect sense, when you consider the South building was not used this year, and there were some small areas of the West building either vacated by companies that decided to stay home and/or converted into makeshift concession areas.
The mood on the floor was also a little more upbeat versus recent years. (I recall 2009 felt like we were all attending a funeral.) Attendees were talking about projects breaking ground soon… or at least on the boards. I would characterize it as cautious and reserved optimism.
I’m interested in hearing the opinions of others who attended the 2011 show, or attended in the past. What did you think of IBS 2011? E-mail me your comments.