This year’s Green Build Conference took place on November 17-19 in Chicago. Sustainability is always one of the key themes as that is what this expo is designed around. Its speakers were no different, and all discussed the importance of creating and maintaining a system designed to grow the practice of sustainable building.
This was echoed by one of the chief speakers at the event, Martha Johnson, Administrator of General Services Administration for the United States Government. At the GSA, Administrator Johnson is in charge of securing all goods, services and property for the civilian government. She was at Green Build Expo to reinforce the GSA’s dedication to sustainability. In short, the GSA’s goal is not to ‘limit’ its environmental impact, but to ‘eliminate’ it with an absolute Zero Environmental Footprint (ZEF).
She acknowledged that it can’t be done alone and with the help of an invigorated country and backing of the government, green collar jobs will help make the difference. Many, Mrs. Johnson explained, including President Obama believe that green collar jobs are the future. During her presentation she quoted the President saying:
“Countries on every corner of earth recognize energy supplies are growing scarcer, energy demands are growing larger and rising energy use imperils the planet we will leave to future generations. That’s why the world is now engaged in a peaceful competition to determine the technologies that will power the 21st century.“
It would appear so far that this is not ‘greenwashing’ either. With over $5.5 billion invested in retrofitting, modernization and the construction of green buildings, the GSA is taking the steps to make a ZEF government a reality. It’s impossible to say whether or not the plan will succeed, but as Administrator Johnson stated: “Can we succeed? Yes, we can.”