LEED by example

Oct. 1, 2007
At the most recent BICSI Conference, held the second week of September in Las Vegas, I enjoyed the presentation delivered by ...

by Patrick McLaughlin, Chief Editor

At the most recent BICSI Conference, held the second week of September in Las Vegas, I enjoyed the presentation delivered by Bill Weekes, a Registered Communications Distribution Designer with Fancom Network Integrators (www.fancomni.com). He provided firsthand, practical information on a topic that might not be extremely familiar to many in the cabling industry-the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

Weekes was not familiar with LEED when he first got involved in it, as he freely admitted during his presentation. In fact, if I remember his story correctly, he was committed to carrying out a certain project before learning it would be LEED-certified, so had to take a crash course in the topic to go along with on-the-job training. That’s where much of the value in his BICSI presentation comes from. Here was an RCDD speaking to other RCDDs about what it’s really going to mean to them when they get involved in a project that is gunning for LEED certification.

It doesn’t matter where a project’s tradespeople stand on the sociopolitical spectrum when it comes to environmental causes; if the project is aiming for LEED certification, and these trades want to be paid, they’ll comply with the building owner’s demands for enviro-friendly materials, processes, and systems. So, while some who saw Weekes present last month might scoff at LEED’s intentions, it would be in their best interest to acquire the ability to bid on and carry out LEED-based contracts.

Even so, I couldn’t shake the irony of my own actions immediately following that presentation. I got out of my chair, grabbed my empty water bottle, and looked for something I knew I wouldn’t find-a recycle bin. So, I threw the bottle in the trash barrel, on top of paper products and aluminum cans that also occupied it.

A few years ago, at a different conference in Las Vegas, I wanted to deposit my empty aluminum can into a recycle bin, so I asked a member of the convention center’s maintenance staff where I could find one. Based on the look she gave me, I initially believed she did not understand English. In fact, she spoke the language fluently as far as I could tell; it was the notion of a recycle bin that put such a perplexed look on her face. That’s when I realized the city’s punchline of a motto was true on several levels, and in this case could be changed to, “What happens here, gets landfilled here.”

Expecting a place known as Sin City to provide a positive example of environmental stewardship is unrealistic. But, as Weekes’ presentation pointed out, when those controlling the purse strings are thinking environmentally, the dynamic changes.

I’ll be interested to hear more about our industry’s take on LEED.

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