Live from GreenBuild – Day 4 with Chris By: greening homes

November 23, 2013
Announcements, Site Stories

Chris Phillips, Greening Homes’ President, is attending this year’s GreenBuild conference, in Philadelphia.  This is the fourth and last of his daily blogs from the event.

Today is a half day of seminars and the closing plenary, as GreenBuild 2013 closes up for a year before heading to New Orleans, in 2014.


Three seminars

“Marketing Green Building Without the Greenwash”: an interesting meld of marketing and legal analysis.  “Green” discussed as a preservation strategy. I took a pic from the presentation of Europe’s most popular solar panel ad.  Different strokes for different folks, I guess…

Avery Bang, Executive Director of not-for-profit bridge builders Bridges to Prosperity, gave an inspiring speech about persistence in the pursuit of the greater good.  Avery obtained both a liberal arts degree and an engineering degree (sounds familiar!), and she claims this gave her the tools to be more flexible and creative than most in her approach to problem solving.  I appreciate invigorating seminars such as today’s from time to time, as it can be very easy to get caught up in the minutia of running Greening Homes and forget that the company was founded on the passion and desire to do right: with a specific agenda to create change for the better in our industry.  The goal of Greening Homes is to be THE MOST environmentally responsible firm of its kind.  This week’s conference was an opportunity to be reminded of this, with a nice little boost of support to stay the course.

Today’s closing plenary was given by Nate Silver, the young master statistician that correctly predicted the results of last year’s primaries and the presidential winner in 49 states.  His was a humourous non-building related take on the absurdities of many of our most deeply held assumptions.  There were several intriguing tales, including Gary Kasparov’s reverence for the chess computer Deep Blue – a respect that, some say, so freaked out the Grandmaster that it affected his ability to play his best against the computer after his first win against the machine.  The story goes like this: with the initial game well decided in Kasparov’s favour, but with several moves and pieces remaining on the board, Deep Blue performed what appeared to be a completely illogical play.  The move didn’t really have an effect on the game, but Kasparov was stunned: the move made no sense.  Kasprov, who could see a super-human 15 moves ahead, was convinced of the computer’s ability to see beyond what even he could.  Apparently his inability to understand unnerved him in his future games against Deep Blue – he was utterly certain that such a powerful opponent could not regularly be beaten.  And, true enough, he never won again. Years later, the programmers admitted that the move had been intentional in the programming – a completely random move to avoid a time default by Deep Blue in the face of certain defeat.  The great genius move was a glitch.  The takeaway from the plenary, perhaps not related at all to the Kasparov/Deep Blue story: our need to continually evolve to maintain a competitive advantage.


A takeaway from the day

From the Building Materials Reuse Association: The number one enemy of reclaiming materials?  Spray foam and construction adhesive.  Apparently huge amounts of beautiful old growth lumber is being rendered unusable in the name of energy efficiency during retrofits.


Here and there

I was very impressed by Hillary Clinton last night.  Not so much for her planned speech, but for her articulate, informed, and often outward-looking responses during a Q and A session that followed her speech.  She received several standing ovations last night.  The crowd obviously loved her.

Greening Homes_GreenBuild_ Day 4 - 5


Did you know that Philadelphia has the most bike commuters per capita of any city in the United States?  I believe it…there are tons of bike lanes here and a real bike presence (not too different a feel from Toronto).

Here are some photos from a walk about town tonight.  One with Victoria and the boys along the hip South Street neighbourhood where we indulged on Mexican food for dinner, the other a view of the Independence Visitor Centre that I passed each night as I headed back to my hotel.  I’m looking forward to spending some time seeing the city during the daylight hours with my family over the weekend, returning back to the office on Tuesday morning.

Greening Homes_GreenBuild_ Day 4 - 3

Greening Homes_GreenBuild_ Day 4 - 2


From the city of brotherly love (and sisterly affection), this is me signing out!