Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Vampire Pad in Frankfurt and the Youngest LEED AP in Germany

Jennivine Kwan
Vice President, International Operations
U.S. Green Building Council

My time in Frankfurt had a rather interesting start.

For those of you who haven't been there, at first glance, Frankfurt is a very conservative, very straight-laced, finance-focused town. So, it came as quite a pleasant juxtaposition that my home base in Frankfurt was a cool boutique hotel that I can only describe as a trendy vampire pad…with a bird fetish.

Imagine walking in from a bright, cold day to a hotel lobby - in fact, an entire hotel - that is black and shiny. Black floors, black mirrored walls, black gauze curtains. The only spots of color in the hotel were the dark purple touches, and, oh - the headless swan chairs in the lobby. My perception of Frankfurt was changed within 30 minutes of my arrival, and the hotel paved the way for even more unexpected surprises.

Old town Frankfurt: Who would guess it's hiding my all-black hotel?

The next day, I left my vampire pad to meet with a group of LEED Professionals in what I thought was a pre-determined and confirmed location. As with all of the best laid plans, I did not count on the room reservation being lost and having to resort to using my non-existent German to explain to the confused receptionist why I suddenly had a group of 15 German LEED professionals crowding up her reception area. As one of the LEED APs kindly took pity on me and stepped in to translate, I was pleased to find that the German LEED professionals I was meeting with were all good sports, not to mention huge LEED advocates. So much so, in fact, that one of them, so as not to miss the opportunity to finally get to meet other LEED professionals, brought her baby son with her to the meeting.

That baby is now, in my mind, the youngest LEED AP in Germany, and meeting him was one of the most pleasant experiences of my time there. Not only because babies are cute and he was cute, but because I so appreciated the determination of his mother to learn more and get involved that she took her baby along in order to do so. I imagine that bringing children of under a year old to business meetings is not the norm in Germany. By doing so, she demonstrated the kind of flexible, innovative, focused determination that I find so often (and appealing) in those passionate about green buildings. What I found even more refreshing was the reaction of the other LEED professionals at the meeting. Although our youngest future LEED AP got a little cranky near the end - who can blame him - no one displayed the least amount of censure or displeasure that he was in the room, but rather were glad that his mom took the initiative to join us.

I have very pleasant memories of Frankfurt and can only hope that our youngest LEED AP will grow up in a world significantly different (in a positive way) than ours today, because of the legacy that we will leave him. And if any of you are interested in finding out more about my vamp hotel, you can drop me a line.

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