Today I attended the opening day of the Green Build expo in the windy city of Chicago. I began the day by walking around the exhibit hall which was filled with thousands of vendors. It was a bit overwhelming at first with so many vendors and so many booths to choose from. Since I had a limited amount of time, I am also volunteering the event and attending as many education sessions as possible, I was only able to speak with to vendors.
The first was a hot water system company named D’Mand Systems (www.gothotwater.com) a very interesting hot water system that provides instant hot water to your furthest fixture within seconds. They serve both residential and commercial applications. How it works is a button is installed at your furthest fixture, when it is pushed (when your ready for hot water) the pump pulls the hot water directly from your HW heater and re-circulates the ambient cold water in the line back to the water heater through the existing cold water lines. The product rep and website boasts that it saves on water usage, gas, and electric annually, both for the user and the users utility company. It is Energy Star rated and easily installed into new and existing structures. The only thing that I see as a problem is that the life expectancy of the system which their brochure says 15-20 years.
I then moved to a concrete vendor for two reasons, the free rice crispy treats and because I live in Philadelphia. Living in Philadelphia I am very interested to see what direction permeable surfaces take in the city. The cities new storm water runoff tax based on the percentage of impermeable surfaces on the property I believe is going to create a growing market for permeable surfaces products and installers. I stopped at a vendor who was also from Pennsylvania. Lehigh Cement company along with its partner company Heidelberg Cement has innovative new cement products with a focus on sustainability. (www.lehighcement.com , www.heidelbergcement.com) They base their ideals around reduce, reuse, and recycle. They have many applications for cement use the most interesting being a type of cement that absorbs CO2 out of the atmosphere. I look forward to learning more about these products and looking to see what other products are at the expo tomorrow.
After my time on the expo floor I attended my first education session entitled “How Community Leaders shape Good Community Design”, presented by the American Architect Foundation. The presenter spoke about 4 different initiatives. Great School by Design, Mayor’s Institute on City Design, Sustainable Cities Design Academy, and the Richard Morris Hunt Fellowship.
Great Schools by Design works under the premise that good community design begins with schools and education centers and that a well designed educational environment promotes and is essential to the teaching and learning experience.
The Mayors Institute on City Design is and initiative that brings city mayors together with planners and designers for two-day talks about urban issues facing their cities and sustainable responses to these issues.
Sustainable Cities Design Academy promotes green infrastructure with community design and public/private partnerships. The aim is integrate the community into the design process and create communities invested in their futures.
The Richard Morris Hunt Fellowship is a position that elects people to work with outside sources especially foreign to learn and experience alternative approaches to design.
All the initiatives while uniquely different in their own respects all work around the same ideas of community involvement, design for use, and design for the future.