Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Road to #Greenbuild is Paved in Social Media

Mara Baum
Senior Associate, HOK
Greenbuild Host Committee

Greenbuild is finally making its way to San Francisco this November – and us Bay Area locals are really excited. The conference theme is aptly “@ Greenbuild,” referencing the mindboggling array of Internet and technology companies headquartered here in the Bay Area. The big names include Google, Yahoo, Twitter (who’s co-founder, Biz Stone, will join us at the Greenbuild opening plenary), LinkedIn, Yelp, and YouTube. Smaller social media outlets are also ubiquitous, including the likes of StumbleUpon, Reddit, Delicious, Yammer, Pinterest, and many more. Of the 17 companies mentioned in a recent survey on social media for designers, all but one are headquartered here. (Tumblr hails from New York. Rebels!) We also have our host of gaming companies, many of whom tap into social networks; gamejobhunter lists over 120 companies nearby, from tiny start-ups to titans like EA and Zynga.

The “classic” Silicon Valley stretches from Palo Alto to south of San Jose, CA.
Image source: Wikipedia

Our social media bonanza has roots in the original tech boom in Silicon Valley – named after silicon chip innovators – back in the 1970s. What is Silicon Valley exactly? Although the name originally referred to a specific region emanating out from Stanford University and San Jose, its tech prowess has now spread throughout the region; San Jose Mercury News recently asserted that “Silicon Valley” now includes five Bay Area counties. For many of us, though, Silicon Valley is more about a mindset and an approach to business that’s become synonymous with high tech innovation. It has remained in this area because, as I once learned in a city planning class, companies that demand a stream of employees with the tech sector’s specialized mindset and skillset tend to thrive when they flock together. (San Francisco’s tax break for tech companies probably doesn’t hurt.)

901 Cherry, home of YouTube: Photo copyright
Mark Luthringer, courtesy of William McDonough + Partners.
This brings us to where we are today – a vibrant and slightly avant-garde-geeky community about to host the biggest Greenbuild ever. I’m excited to be at the nexus of this tech + sustainability crowd as part of the Greenbuild 2012 Host Committee, made up of volunteers from USGBC’s Northern California Chapter. As the co-chair of the Host Committee’s Social Networking Sub-Committee, we’ll work with USGBC’s Greenbuild team to create the most networked show ever – with your help, of course (get those #Greenbuild tweeting thumbs ready!). This emphasis on the collision between technology and sustainability is especially appropriate because many of our local tech companies are also leaders in green building. Google, Adobe, SAP and Zynga were four of the first six to sign on to the California Best Buildings Challenge, a program by USGBC and its Northern California Chapter, and many others have substantial sustainability programs. Many of the Bay Area’s tech companies reside in LEED buildings or spaces, and YouTube now occupies 901 Cherry, an early green building landmark designed by William McDonough + Partners.

I’ll elaborate on some of these initiatives in future blog posts, along with other San Francisco highlights from the Host Committee’s Road to Greenbuild, a series of events leading up to the show. I look forward to “seeing” you in San Francisco this November – if not in person then via social media. In the meantime, you can follow @Greenbuild on Twitter, join the LinkedIn group, like the page on Facebook, and peruse Greenbuild pins on Pinterest. See you there!


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