Green Building Expo crowded with curious minds and unique products | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Green Building Expo crowded with curious minds and unique products

Amanda Fehd

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / A variety of booths were set up for the Tahoe Green Building Expo last week at Lake Tahoe Community College.

What do soybeans, corn and wool have to do with building houses?

As it turns out, a lot nowadays.

Lake Tahoe Community College theater was crowded Thursday for the first Lake Tahoe Green Building Expo and Conference, with vendors sporting the latest of an industry that exploded from zero revenue to $33 billion from 2000 to 2004.

The products included soybean-based insulation, carpets made from corn fibers or wool, non-toxic cleaning products and sustainably harvested wood and bamboo flooring.

Why not keep using petroleum products and clear-cut wood to build homes? Because they don’t grow back as fast as soybeans.

Taylor Financial was there promoting energy efficient mortgages, based on the idea that if you aren’t spending as much on utilities, you can afford a higher mortgage payment. BMP Construction touted its pervious concrete product, which allows rain and snowmelt to seep directly into the ground, preventing erosion. And Overland Meats and Costco were there to remind everyone of the organic food products they provide.

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Meanwhile, the room was packed with people who were looking for ideas.

Torril Purvis and Stacy Smith just completed a new house but were impressed by the options for how to finished it off with carpets, paints and stains that are less toxic.

“I love it,” Purvis said. “I wish we had known about all of this before the house was done.”

Even Heavenly Mountain Resort’s COO Blaise Carrig was spotted wandering through. He was there both for personal interest and for Heavenly. The resort is interested in using sustainable products in future building projects, he said.

“Tahoe is a great place to showcase this stuff,” Carrig said. “It’s the way building should go.”

Charlie Miller, a carpenter, traveled from the North Shore to meet contractors interested in green building after seeing the industry blossom over the last several years.

“Even economically, the products and methods are good opportunities,” he said.

The expo was organized by Tahoe Regional Environmental Education, which promotes green business in Tahoe.