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Thinking About Europe From San Francisco on the Green Build Road Show

November 10, 2009

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Dorothy Lutter is a Senior Foreign Service Officer currently serving as the Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in London.  She has previously been posted in over half a dozen other countries and has served as the U.S. Commercial Service‘s Regional Director for the Western Hemisphere.

Green Build Roadshow Stop Four – Today’s event was held in beautiful San Francisco, appropriately enough in the LEED-certified green offices of local sponsoring partner, Nixon Peabody.  Completed in 2007, the office cost 1.75% more to create a green space, but according to one of the senior partners already created energy savings and savings in terms of increased efficiency, effectiveness, and worker productivity.  David Gensler, Executive Director of the architectural firm that designed the space, noted that sustainability now permeates 100% of their business in the U.S. and around the globe.

One of the common themes along the way has been that the green building market is here to stay in Europe and will only continue to grow with increased EU initiatives and regulation.  Barry Lynham of Knauf Insulations reinforced this message today.   He noted that the EU’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) is under review with stronger measures expected to be adopted by December.  Key drivers are governmental concerns over climate security, energy security and fuel poverty.  Key features will be more ambitious standards, renovation standards for all buildings, a low energy strategy, increased certification and increased inspection and enforcement.

Our “quotable quote” of the day came from my colleague Dan Harris, SCO Paris, who noted that with this momentum in Europe, not only are European companies leading the way there, but are also increasingly looking at the growing green building market in America.  U.S. companies need to think offensively, positioning themselves not only in the U.S., but in Europe as well.  “A U.S. company that operates only in the U.S. is like a football team that is playing the game with only defense.”

As we now head to the GreenBuild Show in Phoenix, our hopes are high that we will be able to encourage and assist more U.S. companies to strategically position themselves in the dynamic and growing European green building space.

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