More than a year ago, we joined a casual group of colleagues dedicated to aggressive reductions in energy, water and transportation impacts from buildings in downtown Seattle. Together, we’ve been a persistent and collaborative bunch of property owners and managers, utilities, public agencies, non-profits, ESCOs, designers and engineers, and other consultants. In addition to tackling these challenges together, we saw an opportunity to showcase Seattle as a leader and attract the best businesses to our city and high performance district.
Now today things are much more official as the Seattle 2030 District launches with a fresh website and a high-profile announcement at the CGI America conference in Chicago. President Clinton and DOE Secretary Stephen Chu announced Seattle and its 2030 District as one of three place-based allies for President Obama’s Better Buildings Challenge as part of CGI America’s closing plenary. Mayor Mike McGinn scored a stage appearance to represent us … did he bike to work today??
So who’s leading the charge? In short, smart, passionate folks. Brian Geller, formerly an architect with ZGF and Weber Thompson, had the original vision and is serving as Executive Director. In addition to several leaders within the City of Seattle (namely Peter Dobrovolny at DPD and Charlie Cunniff at OED), Vincent Martinez of Architecture 2030 is a key part of the leadership. Grants from EPA and the Bullitt Foundation are helping to power this early phase, but the real on-the ground work is being led by private industry, especially property owners and managers that are focused on a more sustainable built environment. Local leaders in this group include Unico, Wright Runstad, Clise, Hines, Kidder Matthews, CBRE, and Vulcan.
A big part of the effort is an agreed set of goals and metrics. And to support these, we are configuring an exciting information system, which will be provided by Lucid Design Group.
The launch fun isn’t done, though. We’ve got a Seattle Greendrinks event on July 12 and a more formal launch event planned for September 8. Stay tuned for more…
A small gathering of smart people in one of the most gorgeous places I know. Tough to beat. And to think I could only stay for about 24 hours. The 10 Conference is in its first year and brought together a stellar lineup in Leavenworth, WA at the Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort. Here’s a quick spin through the talks I most enjoyed. First, I made some bets that I have eaten more Theo Chocolate than everybody in the room except one man. Andy McShea gave us a wonderful tour through the essence of Theo Chocolate and the chocolate industry at large. Like so many things, I really appreciate the quality involved—be it the close-knit farmer relationships, organic ingredients, manufacturing process, or fair trade aspects. I’m more happy than ever to cheer for Theo with my dollars and savor their products. Oh, and a brief chemistry lesson the wonders of theobromine went straight to my undergraduate science heart.
Speaking of products, Leo Bonanni (above) showcased his team’s mapping of where products come from. Sourcemap is an exciting venture that works closely with organizations that make all sorts of products. While consumer transparency is important, Leo also talked a lot about how Sourcemap is helping organizations learn more about their own products! Maybe it helps them choose future suppliers. Perhaps the placement of a distribution center can be smartly place. Whatever the case, we need the genius of Sourcemap to raise our collective awareness.
My final favorite was Pablos Holman, who is part of Intellectual Ventures, which is partly funded by Bill Gates and has notably spun off Terrapower. Holman spent a few minutes detailing the nuclear company’s focus on using up existing nuclear waste with a fraction of the enriched fuel currently used. On a simple level, that means carbon-free energy and less radioactive waste. I’m sure there are still plenty of issues, but I’m cautiously optimistic. After Holman’s entertaining introduction, where he demonstrated several easy hacks on consumer security (mostly digital), he walked through many inventions coming out of his lab. How about a laser that kills malaria-carrying mosquitos? Pretty badass. Or a giant hose that floats into the stratosphere spraying sulfur dioxide to help deflect UV rays and decrease global warming? The modeled effect on Arctic ice melt, for instance, is appealing, but it’s a ways off and Holman didn’t say much about the acid rain trade-off. Anyways, keep tabs on this Bellevue crew.
As one friend said, 3 years ago barely a thousand people even knew what Climate Solutions was! Yesterday morning, more than 1,300 folks turned out for Climate Solutions’ annual fundraising breakfast in Seattle. Last year featured one of my all-time heroes Van Jones and this year Bill Gates showed up. I enjoyed the seated conversation style approach—Excel inventor and Climate Solutions board member Jabe Blumenthal interviewed Gates—although I was left wondering what else Gates didn’t get to say since it wasn’t a fully formed talk. But all in all, it was fun to hear him call out the U.S. government for underfunding energy and climate change R&D. Gates is clearly investing in various energy solutions and the NY Times has a good write-up here about his approach. And he seems jazzed about the actual science. So go big, Bill. Bring us home some winners. For the future, that is.