The last half day of the conference was more design focused, offering an opening breakfast panel on a bold (or not so bold) new idea: zero net-energy buildings. After the breakfast session, Inhabitat favorite William McDonough, principal of William McDonough + Partners and co-author of Cradle to Cradle, shared his insights into whole systems design and thinking products through from beginning to end.
In a bit of an odd twist, Jennifer Fonstad, Managing Director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, was given 20 minutes on the stage (just as long as McDonough) to talk about her LEED Platinum Home in Silicon Valley, while debunking some of the relative myths surrounding green building. Her ultimate findings were that you can build a comfortable sustainable home on the same construction schedule and for around the same budget as a regular old home.
The closing keynote by Bill Ford, the Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company was optimistic of Earth’s Future. He left conference goers with the possibility of Jetson-like transportation that just so happens to be carbon free.
Ultimately the conference was a success – the networking opportunities alone encouraged the swapping of sustainable ideas and the building of business connections unmatched by other conferences. On the other hand, I would task conference planners with encouraging panelist to get a bit dirty by suggesting that they implement changes resulting in marketable differences over the course of one fiscal year. I would also like to see an opportunity for more for young entrepreneurs with sustainable business ideas to attend the conference (perhaps a competition with a scholarship?), so that more individuals from this incoming generation have the opportunity to join in on the conversation and offer their perspective and insights to this impressive group.