Long Beach conference touts new 'green building' concepts

More than 50 people showed up for a green building conference which was held in Long Beach on Feb. 28, which included a number of displays. CHRIS NIELSEN photo

LONG BEACH - The 2003 Green Building Conference held in Long Beach on Feb. 28, attended by more than 50 people, was a big success, according Carole Paddock Lail, director of membership sales for Olympia Master Builders.

The all-day event was held at the Chautauqua Lodge and was hosted by the South Pacific Chapter of Olympia Master Builders.

Green building is a loosely defined collection of land-use, building design, and construction strategies that reduce environmental impacts. Benefits of building green include reduced energy consumption, protection of ecosystems and occupant health.

To learn more about this up-and-coming, environmentally friendly building concept, 55 people attended the Feb. 28 conference, with the bulk in construction-related fields, such as builders, building suppliers, electrical contractors and those affiliated with real estate. In addition, a number of city officials attended, such as Long Beach City Planner Jim Sayce. Representatives from the Port of Ilwaco and area banks also attended. In addition, county officials such as Pacific County Department of Community Development Assistant Director Mike DeSimone also attended.

Pacific County Commissioner Pat Hamilton, of Lebam, was also present at the conference and gave a short presentation at its start.

"This is a great concept and a chance to put a positive spin on sustainable development," said Hamilton. "We still have people out there like oyster growers who are very concerned about the impact development has on the environment."

Other officials who attended the conference included

representatives from Thurston County and the Washington Housing Finance Committee in Seattle.

The keynote speaker was Kathleen O'Brien, a nationally recognized expert in the field of green building. There was also a number of green building exhibits for attendees to visit during the conference, such as one set up by Erik Fagerland and Associates of Long Beach.

During her presentation, O'Brien said that green building concepts have steadily grown in popularity during the last decade. She also touched on some of the basic concepts of green building, such as sustainability and carrying capacity.

"There is a lot of confusion about what sustainability means," said O'Brien. "The definition often used today is from the economic development world and means meeting the needs of today without impacting future generations."

According to O'Brien, the term sustainability has roots in biology, as does carrying capacity - both suggesting limits.

"But this does not mean that there is no growth," she added. "And also it does not mean unadulterated growth. It means smart growth ... and living within our means."

One of the highlights of the conference was a trip to the ShoreBank Pacific Corp. facility in Ilwaco, which is one of the Peninsula's best examples of a structure built using green concepts.

According to Lail, the attendees of the conference represented the full spectrum in terms of knowledge of green building concepts. She said some were very knowledgeable and are currently using green techniques in their buildings and buy green products, while others knew very little about green building and came to the conference to learn more.

"I think they all learned something," said Lail. "The purpose of the conference was to inform and get the process rolling."

According to Lail, with this knowledge out in public, it has the possibility of shaping the future of the Peninsula as more and more people want to embrace green concepts.

She said that Olympia Master Builders, which has a chapter in Long Beach, is looking at several green building endeavors in the future, such as developing an official green program, very similar to those which other Master Builder Associations have developed in the state.

Olympia Master Builders is also looking at a system which will recognize green builders through a certification program.

"It is just being discussed at this time," said Lail. "But there was a lot of enthusiasm from the people who attended the conference and at Olympia Master Builders."

Lail said another purpose of the conference was to set up partnerships with local and county officials to "determine what the future of the Peninsula would be."

She said she thought there was an outstanding response from all of the communities on the Peninsula, as well as the county and Port of Ilwaco.

Fagerland, who is president of the South Pacific County Master Builders Assoc., said the response to the conference was much better than he had anticipated. He said that organizers of the conference were hoping for 30 to 50 people to attend and were pleasantly surprised by 55 showing up to learn more about green building.

An "ice-breaker" dinner which was held the night before the conference at the Shoalwater Restaurant was also a success, according to Fagerland. He said that over 20 people showed up - many of whom were local and area officials from Long Beach, Ilwaco and the county.

"It was terrific," said Fagerland. "We had 2 1/2 hours of non-stop interaction. Specifically, we talked about how to make green building on the Peninsula and with other Olympia Master Builder chapters something people will actually use and work with."

According to Fagerland, the conference and the interaction between the parties who attended was a first, small in promoting green building on the Peninsula.

"It was well-received," he said. "The conference made it clear that average people can do things which are considered green. They came out of it and realized that the more people involved the bigger difference it will make."

Green building sites on the Internet:

• Olympia Master Builders: www.omb.org

• U.S. Green Building Council: www.usgbc.org

• Environmental Building News: www.buildinggreen.com

What makes a given building product or material 'green?'

• Products made from environmentally attractive materials

• Products that are green because of what isn't there

• Products that reduce environmental impacts during construction, renovation or demolition

• Products that reduce environmental impacts of building operation

• Products that contribute to a healthy indoor environment

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