Greenbuild for Interior Designers

Penny Bonda, FASID, LEED Fellow, HBN Board Member - September 21, 2011

It's a daunting task finding one's way around Greenbuild. I should know, I've been to them all, from the early "Membership Meetings" where the whole organization fit in one room and everyone knew each other, to the super-charged mega-conferences of recent years. This year's event in Toronto, October 4-7, will offer the usual array of speakers, workshops, tours, summits, forums and exhibitors - and crowds.

The lack of attention paid to interior designers at Greenbuild has, over the years, ranged from blatant disregard to cursory acknowledgement. Take heart people, this year three organizations are joining together to provide a special event developed specifically for you.

The Healthy Building Network, BuildingGreen and the ASID Foundation invite you to Interior Designers at the Forefront: Healthy Products & Healthy Building, a forum that addresses the real and practical needs of interior designers (and others - architects, engineers, product manufacturers) responsible for creating spaces that are healthier for occupants and the planet.

I'll start the session by making the case for how careful selection of healthy materials can positively impact the health and well-being of occupants and the planet. My remarks will include information on the Materials Research Collaborative Grant funded by the ASID Foundation, a two-year project of the Healthy Building Network and BuildingGreen. Its purpose is to enable the interior design community to more proactively participate in reducing the use of building products that are hazardous to human health while stimulating market demand for healthier building products.

Next up on the program, Nadav Malin, president of BuildingGreen, will advise on how to get the most out of Greenbuild if health is your priority. He will explain new upgrades to the GreenSpec Product Directory and the Pharos Project v2, plus offer some suggestions of sessions to attend that focus on health issues.

Bill Walsh, Healthy Building Network's Executive Director, will discuss two new initiatives that are making health concerns a higher priority in green buildings: the Health Product Declaration (HPD) and proposed LEED credits. Taken together these resources will provide a common format and language for defining building products, at long last.

We invite you to join us for this provocative forum on Tuesday, October 4th in the Nova Scotia Room at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel at 3PM just prior to the grand opening of the exhibit hall. Admission is free.

As for the rest of the conference, it's best to plan ahead especially for the Expo, which will have an exhausting list of exhibitors. Greenbuild developed a handy tool to help attendees navigate the more than 900 booths.

For example, to find the Healthy Building Network / Pharos Project booth (#5042S) - and I know you'll want to - use the various search tools to locate us and add HBN to your personalized Expo Plan. Take some time now to scroll the exhibitors list and map out your route.

The organizers have categorized the workshops by sector; their choice for Interiors lists 17 sessions - a decent number considering the dearth of designer-focused education in prior years. While I won't quibble with the quantity, I do question scheduling two workshops centered on materials in the same time slot. I'm moderating one of them - Getting the Toxics Out: LEEDing the Way to Safer Materials - and wholeheartedly recommend both the speakers' expertise and the valuable content. The other - Are there any sustainable materials? Exploring the role of materials stewardship in sustainable built environments - is a provocative title with excellent and knowledgeable speakers.

Tough choice but it's nice to finally have options!


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