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When Do Trends Go Mainstream?

Last month, I wrote about the fantastic Global Engineering Conference hosted by Carrier Corp. and co-sponsored by this magazine ( In summary, that meeting was about rethinking, restoring, and regenerating our resources. It was an exercise for inspiring the HVACR engineering and commercial contracting communities to think outside the box when it comes to whole-building performance, certification, and impact on the environment. As I said last month, it rocked.

I’ve been following the chatter via social media and through the Internet on the ever-increasing changes that the green movement is having on the world. From a commercial/industrial/institutional perspective, we hear much more today about LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification and the group that brought LEED into being, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Combined with changing technologies, the smart grid, energy conservation, and sustainability, the trends do seem to pile on. It’s exciting.

And then, a few weeks ago, I received an e-mail request from a co-worker that really put it all in perspective for me. The co-worker’s high-school-aged son had been given a writing assignment to describe the impact of the USGBC on the Amercian citizen. The co-worker was asking for some references that his son could use in that report.

The request set me back on my heels. It brought home to me the fact that all the things we’ve been writing about and doing in this industry over the past three to five years have moved from the “trends” realm into that of “mainstream.” How else do you explain this high-school writing assignment?

In an effort to help this young man, I wrote a blog post on the topic for sister magazine Contracting (you can read it at Around the same time that I was writing this blog, I received a Tweet (I still smile when I use this word as an accepted noun—another trend that has gone mainstream, I suppose) from a newspaper regarding an article that went into great depth about how LEED certifications were becoming a criteria to consumers who buy or build new homes.

Talk about a direct impact on the American citizen (the article can be found here: This took me by surprise as well because I’ve had my doubts that LEED would translate successfully to the residential sector. Why? It increases the cost of building a home. Still, the article points out that—at least in Nashville—LEED-certified homes are being built this year.

Then there are the programs springing up through the U.S. Department of Education in conjunction with the USGBC to help school systems move toward sustainability as well. This starts as a managment, design, and implementation issue and ends with a direct impact on teachers and students (

Back in March, at the Carrier Global Engineering Conference, USGBC Chairman and CEO Rick Fedrizzi, during his keynote address, talked about the impact of rethinking and re-engineering how we build buildings, especially in the education marketplace. He said: “Thinking about buildings with people in mind is the basis of the green-building movement. And when you put that in terms of schools, remember this: 25 percent of the U.S. population is in a school building every day.”

When put in that light, it’s no wonder that the trend toward sustainability no longer is a trend. It’s the norm and the USGBC has had a big role in making it that way. So to my co-worker’s son—there you have it.

Do I get an A+, or what?

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