Dreamy idealism is the environmentalism of the past, said Kevin Edwards, chairman of the Green Building Expo. He sees the movement’s future in the practical realm of more affordable new technologies that will be on display at the expo Friday and Saturday in Scottsdale.
It will showcase a rising wave of innovation that has put "going green" on the verge of going mainstream, said Edwards, a longtime Valley builder of custom homes.
"Without a doubt, the biggest change since I started doing green building in the ‘80s is in the public perception. It’s a much easier sell today," he said.
That’s in large part because consumers are tuned in to green goals such as energy efficiency and conservation, if only for economic reasons.
"Look at the high price of gasoline. The need for alternatives is obvious," Edwards said.
Alternatives to conventional methods will be the focus of the expo, sponsored by Scottsdale, Tempe, Phoenix, Salt River Project and several "green" businesses.
More than 50 exhibits and a series of workshops will promote products and services to help achieve water and energy conservation, provide environmentally safer and more durable building and remodeling materials, and offer alternative energy sources such as solar power.
"We need to raise awareness about the importance of sustainable development in our urban desert environment. People will be able to see it in action" in these projects, said Bonnie Richardson, a Tempe planner.
Some of the expo is geared to professional builders and developers, but there’s a particular emphasis on educating the average consumer about green building.
"Ultimately, it takes citizens knowing about it and demanding that it happen" to fully convert the commercial development industry to the cause, Richardson said.
Beyond a big-picture view of green issues, the expo will offer instruction in "a very hands-on environmentalism," said Joan Baron, a Scottsdale artist and member of the event’s planning committee.
"Homeowners will find that with all the new technologies, it’s not that difficult" to recycle water, reduce energy consumption or improve indoor air quality by using nontoxic paints and other materials, Baron said.
"You can make a big difference by starting with the smallest steps and simplest tasks," she said.
The event will be the seventh local Green Building Expo in the past eight years. Organizers said they expect it to outdraw last year’s record attendance of about 2,500.
Green Building Expo
When: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 E. Second St.
Information: (480) 312-3111 or www.greenbuildingexpo.com