Greenbuild, an annual trade show and conference that champions progress in construction design and development that are mindful of the finite and shrinking supply of essential natural resources, typically casts its strongest spell of appeal among commercial developers, architects, engineers, and manufacturers.
This year may be different. Here's why.
For one, the agenda, getting underway today, Nov. 18, at the Washington D.C. Convention Center, will likely reflect a shift toward positions that send a message that can more powerfully reshape resolve and behavior, especially in the wake of a series of headline-grabbing climate-related events with disastrous consequences. To that end, more discussion will focus on resilience as a core goal of the Greenbuild movement, rather than the more vague and, somewhat stigmatized, sustainability.
"There's more work to do" appears to be a central theme of a conference and industry movement that stakes its reputation and mission around more responsible, higher performing, more renewable materials, practices, and processes in construction and development. While the term "sustainable" seems to stall as a call to action among both consumers and policymakers, "resilience"--which places human viability and comfort in spite of natural and human shocks to the system as the highest priority--seems to mean more to everyday people, and to lawmakers and regulators alike. In other words, resilience may both "cross the aisle" as a galvanizing policy agenda, and may strike a chord with consumers anxious to protect their families' safety and well-being despite disturbances to normal activity.
Related to that, homes and residential resilience--with an emphasis on assuring people access to safe, healthy, comfortable, affordable, water-supplied, and power-supplied homes through thick and thin amidst both natural and human-caused disturbances and events--are getting more of a spotlight at this year's Greenbuild expo.
One sure sign that home building and development have gained greater purchase in the Greenbuild and sustainable construction and community development agenda can be seen at the show at booth area 2741, where Unity Homes' Zum model is on display.
What we haven't covered, though, is the fact that during the next couple of days, Unity Homes founder and principal Tedd Benson and his team will be meeting with as many as 10 local home builders from regions including the Seattle market, Northern California, Colorado, Kansas City, Houston, Virginia, and the Carolinas to talk through a program that would enable them to begin to build and deliver Unity Homes' six model platforms--ranging from traditional cape to Nano (tiny home) to an attached multifamily options--in their own markets.
Deals with the builders in those markets would begin to expand Unity Homes' footprint, as planned, to begin making the Unity brand a montage (or factory-assembled) built, affordable, for-sale name on a national scale.
What Walpole, N.H.-based Bensonwood has done with Unity is to integrate four-plus decades of blending master craftsmanship with technology-enabled building tools and facilities into a process-driven template that can iterate its design and construction operation in multiple regions.
Benson's career-long ambition has been to "build a better way," which means not just higher quality, but using processes, capital, talent, and technology to make good houses available to more people and communities.
"We're going to find a way to grow this, whether it's fast with a big infusion of investors' resources, or slowly, home by home, client by client, market by market," Benson tells us.
We think the Unity Home is a game changer and a must-see at Greenbuild, starting today.