There’s something about the “I voted” sticker. Last Tuesday, I made sure to get mine, and I saw lots of people proudly wearing theirs well after the polls closed. I have a friend who was devastated when her polling place ran out of them. What is it about the stickers that makes mature adults go gaga? The best I can think of is that, for one day—regardless of who won—we were part of something, a club of Americans exercising a right hard-earned by our forefathers and fiercely protected by our armed services today. The stickers don’t say Republican or Democrat. They just say, “I did my civic duty, and I took part in something big and important.”
Lately, I’ve been feeling the same way about the green building movement. At West Coast Green a few weeks ago, during every keynote address and seminar I attended, there was a palpable vibe of coming together for a shared mission. The feeling that everyone there—veteran or newbie, manufacturer or builder (or reporter)—was taking part in a movement that is so vital to the future of our industry, our country, and our world. It was like rushing a giant fraternity, minus the hazing and toga parties.
It’s a feeling not limited to building pros. I felt it again this past weekend at the Green Festival in Washington, D.C., a show aimed at consumers. I saw all walks of life—from stereotypical “hippies” to moms pushing strollers—eagerly exploring the many ways they could lead a more sustainable life. I left there with a bunch of new ideas, a couple of eco-friendly products, and the unshakable sense of being a part of a trend whose core mission is almost solely about doing the right thing, whether for the planet, for its people, or for our own energy bills.
I know that green building isn’t—and can’t be—just about “doing the right thing.” And I know that, for many pros, green building is simply another way of meeting consumer demand and opening new profit windows. But whatever your motivation, it’s hard to deny that we are all part of, for now, an exclusive group that will change the way our country shapes its landscape. Whether you’ve made the full transition or you’re taking it one step at a time, each small change adds up to a greater good. At the end of the day, green building must make money and make business sense. But as an added bonus, we can feel proud to be a part of it, too.
Katy Tomasulo is Deputy Editor for EcoHome.