Episode 35 – Greenbuild and our takeaways

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In this episode, we will talk about the Greenbuild tradeshow. We are here today with Jessica McNaughton and Alyssa Holland of CaraGreen.

JESSICA: Hi, this is Jessica. 

ALYSSA: And this is Alyssa. 

JESSICA: We're here with ‎Build Green Live Green, the CaraGreen podcast on issues that are facing the building industry, specifically focused on green, sustainable, healthy building materials and topics. 

ALYSSA: So today, Jessica, I'd like to talk about the Greenbuild trade show we were just at last week. Can you start by giving us kind of an overview of what we expected and then we can kind of go from there? 

JESSICA: Sure. So Greenbuild is a trade show that has been around for I think probably about 12 years, maybe a little longer. And it's really been focused on the movement towards green building in general. So, you know, over the course of the last, you know, few years, the show has, you know, it's really built up its education piece. So, you get a lot of architects and designers that go to the Greenbuild show to get educated on what are the latest trends in green building, green building standards, material health. And you're starting to see a lot more groups and standards come forward that are helping shape and drive the green building movement going forward. So, it’s a combination education for architects and designers to get their continuing education or CE credits and also there's an exposition floor trade show for people like us, material manufacturers or air quality system providers or water fixture suppliers or anyone who has a good product that's really focused on the green building industry. 

ALYSSA: In our last episode that we had, which was kind of preparing for this Greenbuild trade show, we talked about isn't really worth it for us to go and we kind of saw the show decline over the years. Just kind of letting anyone onto that trade show floor. Did that fit your expectations or was it better than you hoped for? 

JESSICA: So, this is my personal opinion. I believe that the show, the trade show floor was not a success for Greenbuild. It was a massive success for CaraGreen. So, I think that the lack of vetting of the people that are on that floor really makes people like us stand out. Our booth looked like a candy shop and people couldn't stop coming. Taking stuff, really kind of engaging with the products and asking questions. And we had people come back multiple times and I really think that we stood out. But to your question, did I see that improve? Not really. I had some lady chase me down with lotion. I don't know how that's sustainable. It was in these tiny little plastic aluminum packages and she would, you know, package, you know, quarter of announced at a time and she's running up and down the aisles throwing them at people. I saw LVT, which is luxury vinyl tile, which is already an oxymoron in that it's luxury vinyl tile. There's nothing luxury about it, but then that it's all petroleum-based. So, there was just a lot of still those, the massage chairs where they are, can't forget the massage chairs. You know, it's just not, they're not vetting those suppliers. Home Depot was one of the big sponsors and they had a booth there. One entire corner of the booth was dedicated to Miracle Grow. I mean, Scott's Miracle Grow. I just, it's crazy to me that, that is the type of, you know, you know, that's not a green building industry pier. And I think that, you know, but it's not, the show is not for me to go around and pick apart everyone else's booth. But I do think that for CaraGreen it was a great opportunity to stand out as a material supplier who's curated this great collection of products that do meet these green building standards and have high recycled content or don't have petroleum products in them or you know our local things like that. So, I think that it really did give us an opportunity to stand out because there just weren't a lot of materials suppliers there. 

ALYSSA: Yeah, I definitely agree with you on that. I saw a lot of those massage chairs, a lot of things that I didn't know why they were there, but I also saw some stuff that was kind of more along the lines of sustainable or healthy than I expected. There was a big pavilion for Mindful Materials, and I know at the booth we got a lot of questions about documents that we have, if we're going to push further for things like that and really kind of focusing on what's next for us. Do you have any opinions on…

JESSICA: Yeah, I mean we had several people that basically came up to the booth and they said you need to be in Mindful Materials. So, I really think that these material aggregators are really starting to get the momentum that they need to be successful. So Mindful Materials is one where you need that sticker to be, you know, in the library. It's becoming a requirement. I think that's fantastic. A lot of the big firms are requiring it. They had a huge long line at Mindful Materials every time I walked by, which is great. Material Bank is another one that they didn't have a booth, but they were walking around and they're definitely getting the momentum they need. Parsons Material Lab is another one.

ALYSSA: Krowdsourced- I saw them there. 

JESSICA: Krowdsourced, yeah. They were great too. And they just have a different business model. They are edgy and they're, you know, kind of really onto something based on the West coast. So, I think a lot of these kind of people that are vetting the materials and are qualifying them are becoming these goto sources for architects and designers. So, they don't have to go to a trade show. They can go to crowdsource or material bank and find that information and that transparency. So that is definitely starting to happen. And I think you're right that those people's presence was there and was definitely felt. Another category that I saw a lot of there, which was new was acoustics. So, you're seeing a lot of these decorative acoustic products, Kirei EchoPanel, obviously, the more established of the brands, but there were some new brands out there and I think the important thing is, with Kirei EchoPanel you have the recycled content and the acoustics. Where with some of these other brands, they're just buying that cheap plastic panel from China and then making designs out of it. That's not Kireis' game. They've got the good story, the sustainability story about sourcing the PET plastic to make Kirei EchoPanels where you've got to be really careful and just make sure you're qualifying the source and supply chain and the recycled content of some of these other acoustic out there. 

ALYSSA: And the color, I mean our booth itself was full of color, but even looking at the acoustic panels, Kirei like you mentioned that we featured in our booth, people commented on that pretty much throughout the entire show. They said, wow, you're not just limited to tans and whites. You have actual color that can really change a space. 

JESSICA: Yeah, so acoustics definitely was one of the bigger topics, story. I found it so interesting how, you know, at CaraGreen we've been talking about tell your story for such a long time. And it's really, I mean, this was the first time I'd really seen that momentum catch on with a lot of the other suppliers where, you know, their language is almost including the word story in it. Because as everything becomes more personal, as green shifts to health, you're talking about making things more personal and nothing's more personal than telling someone a story. How did you get here? Why are you here? Where are you from? So, we had those storybooks in our booth. So, we were very overt about, you know, talking about stories, but there were a lot of other booths that had that same language. And they're starting to be this recognition that people can relate to a story the same way people can relate to their own health and then the health of the environment. So, I think those are a lot of trends that I see starting to happen and get adopted across the board on the expo floor at Greenbuild as well as within the education sessions. 

ALYSSA: Yep. So, moving from not just checking boxes for a green building standard, but really trying to tell that story and hit that message home about health and wellbeing. 

JESSICA: Right. And what makes you remember something, data points or the story behind it? Nobody ever, well maybe you do Alyssa, and me to some degree, but most people won't repeat the data points trying to win someone over. But when you tell them a story, you have so much better of a chance of them remembering it and them attaching themselves to it and finding a way to relate to it when there's story elements in it.

ALYSSA: Yup. And for those of you that haven't had a chance to see our booth, you didn't get to stop by, or we haven't checked out our Instagram yet. We do have quite a few images on our Instagram showing that booth, showing that color, showing that story briefly flipping through that. And you can also just stay tuned into our Instagram as well to keep following up on the stories of different products that we offer. 

JESSICA: Right. So, in our booth we had elementAl, Durat, Kirei, Lapitec, and PaperStone with IceStone right across the way from us. So, I think that the organoid wall was great. Organoid is the bio-based materials, the Rose petals and the wild flowers and hay and so on. And people really love that. They love touching it, engaging with it, coming up with ideas of how to use it. And then we had Expanko cork on the floor, which I think we are fortunately one of the most comfortable floors in the trade show. People were coming in, you know just to stand on the floor. And you know, I was wandering around a bit because, you know, we're constantly having meetings with people and talking to potential new suppliers and so on. But I cannot tell you the number of times I heard someone say, this is the best booth in the show. And you know, having been with CaraGreen for 10 years and knowing that you know, we've done a lot of different trade shows that made me really proud. Because the whole idea at the outset for to tell a story and to get people to engage with that story and really want to be in this healthy materials popup shop. And we were very clear about what we were and what the purpose of the booth was, and it drew people in, and they really liked it. So again, it was a success for CaraGreen. I think that Greenbuild on the trade show side really has to think about you know, what kind of people they want on that floor. The education sessions were top notch and Barack Obama as a speaker, we've got on our blog, we're going to be posting some of his top statements. So, look for that on www.caragreen.com/blog. But he had some really great insights about social mindfulness, and you know, social impact and environmental impact. And he was just, it was very conversational. It wasn't a preach at you type of talk. It was very conversational. So that was great. So, look for those kinds of key takeaways from Barack Obama. 

ALYSSA: Awesome. So again, more of that story, that conversation from him. 

JESSICA: Exactly. And as you know with Obama, you know, he ties everything back to his own family, his own interactions where he grew up in Hawaii. How resources were limited there. He tied it back to some Scandinavian buildings and you know, like brands like Durat, which are based in Finland and really, you know care about the environment and they really respect their resources. So, he tied all that together really nicely. And it was great. He was great as a keynote speaker. 

ALYSSA: Awesome. Well, I look forward to reading that and kind of hearing our thoughts and his thoughts. So again, check that out at www.caragreen.com/blog and again, the recap and all of that will be on Instagram as well. 

JESSICA: Well, this is Jessica. 

ALYSSA: And this is Alyssa. 

JESSICA: This is ‎Build Green Live Green. Thanks for listening. 

ALYSSA: Thanks guys.