Yesterday’s Build Green Maine Conference was an energizing mix of informative speakers and knowledgeable attendees, and I’m very glad I journeyed west to Augusta to participate. In true Gemini fashion I was there in two roles: as a Realtor (I’ve just earned the National Association of Realtor’s new GREEN designation) and as President of Midcoast Habitat for Humanity, which I’m hoping can soon begin to build with more sustainable principles in mind.
Governor Baldacci gave an address, as did Dale McCormick from Maine State Housing. Ms. McCormick, author of several carpentry books and former state Treasurer, pointed out that 80% of Maine’s households are dependent on oil — the most of any US state — and said “we absolutely must diversify and conserve.” My friend (and client!) Vicki Worden from the Green Building Initiative (that’s her in the photo with me) did a great job as a panelist outlining the work being done on a national level, especially with regard to a new rating system from Canada called Green Globes.
For the keynote, the organizers (Newforest Institute and Midcoast Magnet) brought in the big guns: Joe Lstiburek, Ph.D., author of scores of technical and journal articles on building and a sought-after speaker. His main point: Green is the key to energy security and climate change. He claimed that the typical family carbon footprint is half the house, and half the car, and that the energy sector and building sector will soon be competing for the same energy. ”The most energy efficient appliance is the one that’s not running” he said, making the case for both smart building and conservation. One of my favorite quotes (and he had lots of good ones) was when he suggested the US morph from a carbon-based economy into a carbohydrate-based economy. “The US can be the Saudi Arabia of carbohydrates,” he quipped.
I was very impressed with Habib Dagher, an award winning professor at the University of Maine, who outlined all the possible energy sources for Maine (tidal, solar, nuclear, natural gas, etc) and then demonstrated in true professorial style which ones could realistically meet our state’s energy needs in the future. Although many alternative energies can be “a piece of the energy mosaic in Maine,” the conclusion he led us all to see is that offshore wind is really the only solution powerful enough to completely take our state off oil and end the 17 metric tons per person of carbon dioxide each Mainer footprints per year. If we pursue offshore wind energy (as are some other coastal states to our south), we may soon be known, along with “Vacationland,” as “The GREENest State,” a moniker the architects, contractors, and service providers at the conference would gladly embrace.