Keeping Up Appearances at Green Buildings NYC 2010 Expo
Categories: architecture

By: Michelina Docimo

A few years ago, purple was the new black, then came turquoise, yellow was in for spring, now hot white for summer, dare I say, orange is next.  Where does that leave green?  Everywhere.  Fashion can be fickle, but green is here to stay, if not in your armoire, in everything else you think, live, and breathe in.  So when I had the chance to attend the Buildings NY / Green Buildings Expo at the Javit’s Center, one of the first questions that popped to mind was, “What will I wear?”  Then, “Who will I be?”

I had just completed my sustainable building advisor class a week before the expo and my business cards printed the day before.  Dressed in brown Roman sandals, brown light cotton slacks, pink and white linen pleated shirt, and beige linen jacket, I presented myself as a sustainability writer and consultant - the truth. 

Walking through the exhibitors, I found the green path.  “I’ll start here,” I thought to myself, as if I were beginning a game of Candyland.  My first stop, couldn’t have been sweeter – Live Roof, a CT green roof supplier.  “This will be easy,” I thought.  I introduced myself as a master gardener and we had a lovely conversation about soil and hens and chickens (the succulent, artichoke looking plants, typically found on green roofs because they are drought resistant.  The latin name is Sempervivum tectorum, but there are many species.)   Hens and chicks are one of my most favorite plants ever; there’s so much to love about them.  I think what I love the most is how inconspicuous they are, growing as if by accident, they create these cluster families in shades of green and burgundy and sometimes a pink blush.

On to Bulbtronics, LED lighting experts, examining new light bulb heat emissions, color qualities, and styles.  The LED (or light emitting diodes) market has come a long way in just a few years in developing powerful, efficient, and comfortable bulbs that last twenty times longer than your average 5000 hour incandescent bulb.  According to Energy Star, the CFL (compact fluorescent lightbulb) is 50% more energy efficient as an incandescent bulb.  LEDs will blow CFLs out of their sockets!  Plus, LEDs don’t have the mercury vapor which concerns many on how to dispose of CFLs properly.  Good lighting is so important for visual comfort, stimulating productivity, and creating ambiance.  How we use lighting is a reflection of what we value in a space.  This stop had me thinking about art and museums.

After Bulbtronics, the rest of my visits seemed to go much more quickly.  Sometimes it felt odd introducing myself, but then I realized it was really about listening and having an open conversation.  Conversations about Kohler

Rachel Whiteread, Water Tower, 1998, Museum of Modern Art.

waterless urinals, SolarTrac daylighting control systems, software solutions to track energy, Benjamin Moore Natura zero VOC paints, GE Energy Star appliances, GGI Alice glass…  And then like Alice in Wonderland falling down her rabbit hole, I washed up onto the floor of American Pipe and Tank.  No one else was there and I thought, well, what do I say to water tank plumbers?  “Hi, I’m Michelina.”  The next thing I heard was a concise encapsulation of what American and Pipe and Tank do, followed by a question, “What do you do?”  I felt awkward, but I said, I’m a sustainability writer and consultant, knowing that my chances of ever working on a building that wanted a rooftop water tower were slim.  I gave him my card and he commented on it and then the real conversation began.  He noticed my blog and then he asked me, “What intrigues you about the water tanks?”  The history, I said.  They’re these structural forms that are part of the skyline but go unnoticed (like the hens and chicks) but they hold all this water.  People may wonder what’s inside.  “Do you know Rachel Whiteread?” he asked.  No.  He wrote her name down for me and told me to look her up.  She’s a British sculptor, who’s first American public arts commission was a clear resin water tank on a SoHo rooftop in 1998.  Then he gave me the name of another artist and said, “We’re working on a project, but I can’t tell you yet.  When I’m ready, I’ll let you know.”  Thanks, I gushed, realizing this was the best conversation I’d had so far.  Completely unexpected adventure.

Making my way through the crowd again, I noticed someone at a table in complete despair, with his head down on his folded arms.  Surprised, I was curious to know what he was representing, but decided to take my own break.  Recharged, I walked towards the back of the room, talked with a few more exhibitors and then thought, “It’s time for me to leave.” 

Walking towards the entrance, I noticed “Fitch” in a green oval.  I know this company.  I was going to promote these catalysts.  Fitch is a fuel catalyst that helps reduce fuel consumption.  I stopped and introduced myself, saying that I attended an informational session about their product last year.  They stared at me blankly.  I continued to let them know where I attended this seminar, what I had been doing, and what I was currently doing.   Then two more Fitch representatives come to the table.  We talked for a few minutes, as I recognized one of them as the one who presented at the session.  “I was going to make this my baby,” I said.  Finally, the first person I approached gave me his card and said that I was a “catalyst” in my own way – making things happen.  It was the president.  We chatted for a bit and then a bit more and one of them asked, “You’re still here?  What shoes are you wearing?”  I showed him my Roman sandals and he said, “I bet you were planning for weeks, what shoes you were going to wear!”  Damn that Sex and the City, I thought.  So I called it a day, hopped in a cab, relieved to be heading on my way to an artist’s studio – but that’s another story, for another day.

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2 Comments to “Keeping Up Appearances at Green Buildings NYC 2010 Expo”

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