A Great Start to the Green Build Road Show!November 3, 2009
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Daniel Harris has been a Foreign Service Officer for over 25 years serving at posts in Europe, South America, Africa, and Washington, DC, most recently as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Operations, U.S. Commercial Service. He currently serves as the chief of the Commercial Section and the senior representative of the U.S. Department of Commerce in the U.S. Mission to France.
What a great start to a two-week Road Show! The U.S. Commercial Service has kicked off its “Green Build Road Show” on the 31st Floor of a Pittsburgh skyscraper. Thanks to the beautiful fall weather my colleagues and I have been treated to an expansive view over a city that has become famous for re-inventing itself from a gritty rust-belt town to a leader in green technology. We’re here because the Commercial Service office in Pittsburgh has recruited an audience of 40 people from 35 companies plus four Pittsburgh associations to hear about the European sustainable construction sector.
Senior Commercial Officers from Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the Nordics presented market research that outlined market drivers, best prospects and key issues in each of these five big markets. Recognizing that regulatory requirements can scare off American companies, a Commercial Specialist from the U.S. Mission to the European Union outlined the EU system and explained how the Commercial Service can help companies navigate their products through the regulatory process.
Why bring such a high powered team across the Atlantic for two weeks to talk about green building? Because sustainable construction in Europe is one of the best growth markets to come along for years! With strong public support, EU governments have committed to ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions – even putting money behind this campaign in the form of tax credits, subsidies and other incentives. Changes in building codes, taxes on carbon and other measures will change behavior and building practices. American companies with competitive services, technologies and products are well-positioned to successfully export to this sophisticated market.
What I liked best about the day: Most of the companies we met were new to the Commercial Service, which is just what I’d hoped – we want to reach beyond our existing clients and describe the huge opportunities in Europe to green companies who have not yet tried exporting. I loved watching my CS colleagues bound up to the podium like race horses from the starting gate, happy to offer new opportunities and fresh perspectives on their markets. An added bonus for our audience was the presentation by Professor Volker Hartkopf, who wowed us with his hard-hitting analysis of energy use in the United States. The bad news is that we waste a huge amount of energy; the good news is that we can dramatically reduce energy consumption and expand renewables through technologies that already exist. We’ll learn more about that on Tuesday when we visit his institute at Carnegie Mellon University.
It was a great start to a two-week trip that will take us to five cities and introduce us to dozens, maybe hundreds, of new clients in the green space. Stay tuned as we share insights along the way – or join us if we’ll stop at a city near you, or perhaps at our final stop at the Green Build Conference and Expo in Phoenix. We hope we’ll meet you along the way!