West Coast Green - a green-tech show

Last week, a friend convinced me to attend show that's new for me: West Coast Green. In its fourth year, it emphasizes "green innovation" in its literature. When I first arrived, I wasn't sure it would be a good show for me, nor for the exhibitors I know best, manufacturers of traditional building products with their green essentials in place. But this show appealed to the building science and technology geek in me, and for the right exhibitor it looks like a great show.

The audience was foreign to me. I'm a veteran of CSI shows and AIA shows, where we see lots of architects and interior designers looking for beautiful finishes and fixtures. GreenBuild appeals to many of the same people, except that everything needs its green story. This show, on the other hand, was not really geared to designers of the visual effects of projects. The education tracks, which are a good key to any show's intended audience, didn't emphasize visual design:
  • Future communities
  • Energy and water
  • Smart grid
  • Products and technologies
  • Business, branding and social media
  • Entrepreneurship
The lineup of speakers was really impressive: it was the reason my friend was attending and the reason she convinced me to come with her. William McDonough's "Deep Dive" presentation was a fascinating 3 1/2 hours long. Van Jones kicked off the event (via webcam) with an energizing story about green jobs. Building Green and Intel presented several sessions each. I plan to go back to the web site to see if I can catch the speeches I missed by Hunter Lovins, Michelle Kaufmann and Panama Bartholomy. These are exciting speakers to the green building community, and I'm sure they helped draw a diverse crowd of attendees.

The key sponsors were energy and technology companies, including PG&E, IBM, and Intel. The 150 or so exhibitors included a few beautiful countertops and wood products, a huge proportion of insulation products, lots of energy monitoring and lighting controls, several LED lighting companies, brick and decking made from recycled materials, and wastewater and landscape water management systems. Many of the systems were geared toward small projects: residential, retail, and small office buildings. In fact, it was this residential look that initially turned me off; but my second look, which came after good experiences in the education sessions, revealed plenty of systems that could scale up to large commercial and institutional projects.

For manufacturers of building products, I'm not yet sure to whom to recommend exhibiting at West Coast Green. It's not a great audience for interior design products, but it's an unusually good one for high-tech systems and innovative green products. I do think that it and other regional green technology shows are worth watching and evaluating.

Did you exhibit at West Coast Green? Did you think about it, but decide not to? I'd be curious to hear what you decided and why, and whether you'll consider exhibiting there next year.