Building A Bold New Green World

It sounded at times like a meeting of Optimists, but, no, it was the seventh Congress of the World Green Building Council.

Despite the dire state of things, this is one group that remains resolutely upbeat.

With more than 1,500 attendees from 30 countries, the four-day conference will hear from dozens of experts on all matters relating to global green industry.

"We have to be optimistic," says Andrew Bowerbank, acting executive director of the WGBC and vice-president of sustainability at the Toronto Regional Conservation Authority. "We can't give up. We have 10 years to do something, or we're going to have to live with the consequences of climate change."

Bowerbank's immediate concern is to increase the number of green building councils worldwide from 25 to 100. These are national and local organizations that consult with developers, builders, architects, engineers and related professionals to help them go green.

As he points out, however, the technology exists; what needs altering is the mindset of the industry.

"It's fear of the unknown," Bowerbank explains. "It's always that. But that mindset is coming to an end. I hate to say it, but it's a generational thing. A new generation is coming along that has been educated about green building technology. We're going to see big, big changes in the next few years."

Kevin Hydes, chair of the WGBC, agrees. "A lot of us have fallen asleep at the wheel," he says. "I'm an engineer and quite frankly engineers are responsible for a lot of the problems we face. Things have changed now and there's only one criterion: What impact do our actions have on the Earth? We've all got a role to play. We all bear some of the responsibility. It's the kids who will teach us how to do it. Environmental thinking is no longer an option, it's a prerequisite."

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