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Greenbuild 2009: Energy is the Monumental Issue - Building Priorities Briefing

GREENBUILD 2009-- The Empire State Building plans to trim 38 percent from its monumental $11 million annual energy bill with an energy efficiency retrofit. This month JCI's Clay Nesler joins Denis Du Bois in an interview at the Greenbuild 2009 Conference and Expo. The Energy Minute is about daylighting, and the final segment is about interesting products at Greenbuild. This is the first of two Briefings from Greenbuild. (podcast) (transcript)

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Theme music: Alexander Blu
Energy Minute music: Chris Keister
Greenbuild 2009 photo on EnergyPriorities.com

Greenbuild 2009 filled the Phoenix Convention Center. Attendees could ride the city's new light-rail line (foreground) to the conference from their hotels.

Program notes & transcript

This month's major event in sustainability was the Greenbuild 2009 Conference and Expo.

This was the eighth annual Greenbuild, and the largest event of its kind in North America. Even in a recession, it drew 27,000 attendees. If someone tells you the recession marked the end of the green building movement, just point them to the crowded floor of the Greenbuild Expo with 1,800 exhibitors. The economy may be stagnant, but attendance at Greenbuild is still growing.

Part 1: Opening commentary

The US Green Building Council is the non-profit organizer of Greenbuild and the originator of the LEED Rating System for green buildings.

Both have their critics. But the organization's really quite earnest in its mission, which extends far beyond improving buildings, to improving the quality of life for people all around the world.

The USGBC has chosen to focus on one strategy -- changing the way homes, buildings and communities are designed -- still a tall order.

Even the USGBC seems to realize that altruism and environmentalism are not enough to convince building owners to spend more to make their buildings green. The environment's important, but so are property valuations and occupancy rates.

Those economic realities are the clear priorities at Greenbuild. At this conference, green is not all about humanitarianism or climate change. It's about energy savings and worker productivity. It's about return on investment and net operating income. It's about real-world solutions and quantifiable results.

This is the first of two reports we'll bring you from Greenbuild 2009. We have a lot to share with you, so let's get started.

Part 2: Empire State Building: Monumental Energy Retrofit

» Photo & transcript

Energy:Minute -- Daylighting for Commercial Buildings

» Podcast & transcript

Part 3: Daylighting products at Greenbuild 2009

At the Greenbuild Expo there were exhibitors with everything from concrete forms to flooring to furniture and roofing membranes.

We searched out the exhibits with energy-saving products worth telling you about. This month: two products that make it easier to incorporate daylight in a facility.

Lighting represents a third of the electric bill in commercial buildings in the United States.

There are three main strategies for reducing the cost of lighting: Switching to more efficient lighting, controlling when lights are on or off, and substituting daylight for artificial light.

Light-emitting diodes -- LEDs -- are the next major step in energy-efficient lighting technology.

They're mature enough that it's relatively easy to replace some types of existing lamps with LEDs. They cost several times more, but they pay for themselves by using less energy and having longer service intervals.

LEDs use 30 to 80 percent less electricity, and have a lifespan that's four to ten times longer than the lamps they replace.

Luminaires that use LEDs also emit a lot less heat, and that reduces cooling loads.

All of the major lighting vendors at Greenbuild were showing off their LED products. GE showed us some GE LED lamps that are coming out in 2010.

Part 3 interviews:

Tubular Daylighting Offers Consistent, Natural Office Light

Heat-Activated Tinting Could Solve a Daylighting Dilemma

Coming up in next month's Briefing

At Greenbuild we also talked about lighting with the man in charge of construction for the New York Times Building. And we looked into some interesting alternatives for lighting control from Lutron, and energy management from Convia, which is a division of Herman Miller.

We talked with Autodesk about building information modeling (BIM) and the future of LEED. And Siemens shared their thoughts with us about integrating intelligent buildings with the smart grid. We'll bring you those stories and interviews in the next Building Priorities Briefing, so tune in next month!