High Performance Buildings
A chat with John Picard - Part 1
on June 9, 2011
Habitually late, I missed 80% of John Picard's keynote at the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco. When I arrived, he had supposedly stumbled in his speech and yet the audience still seemed engrossed. That made me more intrigued. He had been through playing excerpts of "Ashes and Snow", leaving only a mesmerizing still image displaying on the projector screen, tantalizing me for more.
Habitually I berated myself for being late, especially since I had really wanted to hear what he had to say and show. But after a private interview I requested and he accepted, I was convinced that it more than made up for what I had missed.
We happened to stand across the street from One Market, a historic building he had just been contracted to retrofit. Describing his bold visions for future buildings he told me he wants to change the "load shape of the city"; and he wants to get people to move from the Wall Street model of CAPEX, to longer-term view of operational efficiency (not just energy efficiency). His conviction and his openness, though, were even more inspiring to me than the "iBuilding" idea. After pushing for green buildings for 20 years, most of which "running against the wind", John is finally now enjoying a shift in the air current - the tailwind. Our long conversation went way beyond buildings. Although I remain a little skeptical of John's optimism that "doing good" eventually gets recognized and rewarded, his reflections nonetheless touched a deep cord - I know someone else who has decided to just do good no matter what, even though she is yet to figure out how to profit from it! And in his response to my reservation about technology, I saw a man who loves nature as much as I do. I am not sure that my conflict was fully resolved, but his point about "7 billion people" is certainly a hard reality. Perhaps my reservation would be better directed at the world's overemphasis on economic growth. Perhaps the reality that several of that 7 billion are "moving up" towards the lifestyle of the "top of the pyramid" is an even harder one.
Perhaps I think too much.
I hope the tailwind will last long and stay strong for John.
- BeiBei Song
(About my guest: John Picard, Founder and CEO of John Picard & Associates, is one of the leading thinkers and builders of sustainable societies. He has conceptualized and built hundreds of the smartest homes, workplaces and communities in America and his vision guides the future planning of dozens of Fortune 500 companies.)
Tags: John Picard, Cleantech Forum, sustainable buildings, balance with nature