Expo promotes eco-friendly lifestyle | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Expo promotes eco-friendly lifestyle

Jeff Munson

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Mark Shehadi will have two Toyota hybrid vehicles, the Highlander and Prius, on display at the Tahoe Green Building Expo next week.

With gasoline and home heating prices continuing to rise with no end in sight, energy efficiency has taken on a new sense of urgency.

Things like solar heating or hybrid cars, once considered on the fringes among the elite, are not only more affordable but are inching toward mainstream acceptance.

So it is only logical that arguably the most environmentally conscious region of California and Nevada will host an entire trade and exposition show devoted to new technologies in the alternative energy revolution.

“When an idea like this becomes mainstream, the power of the market is enormous,” said Cheryl Murakami of ReMax Tahoe Realty Today, and co-organizer of the Thursday’s second annual Tahoe Green Building Expo. “It’s not there yet but it is getting closer. We’ll know we’ve reached a turning point when we hear more discussion of the financial benefits and less discussion of the philosophical or political aspects.”

The green building construction market has grown from zero in 2000 to $33 billion at the end of 2004, according to Rick Fedrizzi, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Green Building Council.

The council, which promotes renewable energy and environmentally sound construction, reported that U.S. spending on green goods and services reached $7 billion in 2004, up 37 percent over 2003, according to a story in the Boston Globe.

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“If you start the process early, with an educated team, you can do it for not a penny more than conventional construction,” Fedrizzi told the paper.

Reducing the average house’s energy use by 30 percent will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 34,000 pounds over its 30-year lifetime, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

“With numbers like these, we can’t ignore the importance of green buildings,” Murakami said.

The Tahoe Green Building Expo is a combination Trade Show and Conference sponsored by Tahoe Regional Environmental Education, a non-profit organization dedicated to environmental education, community outreach and green business promotion in the Lake Tahoe region.

The Tahoe Green Building Expo will be held Thursday at Lake Tahoe Community College. Trade Show hours are 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., with a conference and guests speakers from 5:15 p.m. to 9 p.m.

It is the goal of the Tahoe Green Building Expo to encourage the preservation of this natural environment which is our area’s most valuable asset, Murakami said.

“The Green Building Expo was created to advocate, cultivate and support sustainable building by encouraging … the development and redevelopment of residential and commercial properties that are environmentally responsible, energy efficient and cost-effective,” she said. “By making sound economic and environmentally friendly choices in the products and materials we use, we can save on energy costs, create more profitable businesses, enjoy healthier working environments and increase personal comfort.”

TREE is the brainchild of Nicoletta Florio, a 16-year resident of South Lake Tahoe. Florio attended Lake Tahoe Community College and graduated from the teaching program at Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village. TREE’s mission is to promote environmental and social responsibility through conscious consumerism.