Where was the Water Sector?

The water and wastewater industry was lightly represented at the 2012 Greenbuild Show. It’s time for the onsite industry to take more interest in green building.
Where was the Water Sector?
Onsite wastewater treatment systems maker Bio-Microbics was represented at the 2012 Greenbuild Show in San Francisco.

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According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 2012 saw the driest months on record in the Midwest. A different kind of drought prevailed at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Greenbuild Expo in San Francisco Nov. 14-16: Of the 906 exhibitors, only six had anything to do with wastewater. Further, of the 181 sessions given at the show, only 11 dealt with water.

Widely publicized as the world's largest conference and expo dedicated to green building, the Greenbuild Show is a critical part of the growth seen in the green building industry and the advancement of the sustainability movement.

Rick Fedrizzi, founding chairman and CEO of the USGBC, delivered an inspiring keynote address to nearly 6,500 people at the opening session. He emphasized that there are critics of the green building program: "Journalists, lobbyists, prehistoric industry associations, and scoundrels who campaign against environmentally responsible buildings," but that "Our detractors are dead wrong, and we are right!" He sent the audience off to the three days of workshops, conference sessions, and three buildings of exhibitions and booths at the San Francisco Moscone Convention Center.

Professional Builder, a construction publication, hosted a Greenbuild Show Village where homes constructed on site touted the latest green building techniques. The January National Association of Home Builders International Builder's Show in Las Vegas included similar Show Village homes, which featured NOWRA Business Benefit Program members Bio-Microbics and Infiltrator Systems.

Bio-Microbics attended this event to gather more information about the USGBC Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification program and about the green building industry as a whole.

Most of the talk this year was about the proposed changes to the guiding document of the LEED Certification Program. The proposed changes (LEED Version 4) were met with some debate and have been put on hold until June 2013 for more discussion. Proposed changes include adding new credit categories and prerequisites for products, revising the point distribution used to score projects, and adjustments to the technical content.

The big news for LEED Version 4 is that there will be more transparency of materials used in green building products. Companies cannot just say they are green; they must prove it. With sustainable design, construction standards, certification programs (like the new NSF/ANSI Std 350 for Water Reuse), and building codes that are directed towards improving long-term building performance, the focus is currently on energy efficiency. For wastewater treatment and reuse to ultimately prevail in the sustainability arena, the onsite industry would need to participate more in these green-building certification programs.

While LEED and green building may not be an area of focus for many people in the onsite industry now, we should be involved in setting the goals and guidelines that may concern the industry in the near future. There is time to make our industry known and push to be part of the answer for responsible building. The onsite industry should take its place in the green building and sustainable development industry ... because we are right, too.

If you would like more information about the USGBC or the Greenbuild Expo, visit www.usgbc.org.


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