Blogs > Matt Power > January 2010

Chemistry is Back

The level of sophistication among manufacturers is much higher than it used to be. They understand that building is a complex science. Now the challenge is to pass on their knowledge to the trades.
Talking with companies that make spray foam, paints, roof coatings and even vinyl windows, I noticed a welcome shift. The people talking to me about sustainability are not just pretty faces from marketing offices in the glass towers of chicago. They're smart, wonky experts--chemists, engineers and researchers who most of time can handle even my tough questions.

For example, at the Milgard Windows booth, they wanted to show me a new system for painting vinyl windows with dark, rich colors. Apparently they've partnered with Behr paints to solve some of the longstanding problems with vinyl expansion--its coefficient of elasticity, if you will. They were able to field my concerns about how that paint would hold up under such stress.

Over at Bayer, (yes, they're much more than aspirin) I learned about a new program aimed at helping HVAC trades sell energy upgrades. I had an animated discussion with their new marketing person about the different ideological focus of builders, homeowners and architects--we both learned some useful information, I think.

My point--the industry is maturing in a very positive way, perhaps motivated by the economic disaster of the past year. Let's hope the former continues and the latter doesn't.



Posted: 1/19/2010 8:52:09 PM by Matt Power | with 0 comments



Why Vegas?

If centralized building shows are still relevant--and I'm not sure they are--must we add injury to ecological insult by holding them in the faux oasis of Las Vegas? Another year--another International Builder Show in Las Vegas. What's wrong with this picture? I'm about to fly 2,000 miles (one way) on a CO2-spewing jet to talk about green building? Remember when the media went after Al Gore for similar jetsetting hypocrisy? The only defense we have, like Al, is that maybe the environmental education we pass on might counterract some of the damage of our travel.

I think a lot of people are starting to feel this healthy unease about our old ways of doing business. I'd bet that in ten years, if shows like IBS still exist, they'll be much smaller--probably divided up into regional events--or else they will have gone completely virtual.

On that note, we're working with Brandner Communications to create a virtual trade show. Maybe next year we'll hold our meeting virtually, and reduce our negative environmental impacts. See you at the show!--Matt

Posted: 1/15/2010 1:35:39 PM by Cati O'Keefe | with 0 comments



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About Me

As a veteran reporter, Matt Power has covered virtually every aspect of design and construction. His award-winning articles often tackle tough environmental challenges in a way that makes them relevant to both professionals and end users. An expert on both building science and green building, he has a long history of asking hard questions--and adding depth and context as he unfolds complex issues.

 

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