VG Founder Drew Shula Interviewed on “Build for Impact” Podcast
Verdical Group’s Founder & Principal Drew Shula joined the Build for Impact podcast, hosted by LEED Fellow Daniel A. Huard, for “Structuring the Future of Green Building,” a conversation about net zero and living buildings.
Shula and Huard discussed Verdical Group’s Net Zero Conference and how the event is helping to scale net zero carbon, energy, water, waste, and transit.
They also touched on the living building movement — “living buildings” harvest the energy they consume from renewable resources like the sun and the wind, are constructed from sustainable materials, and serve occupants by providing a healthier environment.
So we touched on resiliency as one of the pillars of this podcast, and the work that you’re doing is so supportive of resiliency even though you don’t take a strong stand on it, waving a flag saying “look I’m a resiliency leader,” yet you are. So let’s talk about the impacts that your work around net zero buildings and the Net Zero Conference have had on reducing carbon emissions and how that in turn helps the planet.
We’re still in the throws of how to respond to this pandemic right now, but resiliency planning for buildings also relates to natural disasters like earthquakes or wildfires, and it’s very important that we think about these extreme possibilities before they happen to create resiliency plans for buildings that can withstand these types of things happening.
Declare labels from International Living Future Institute being one of those certifications out there for building products to really avoid those most toxic chemicals, but there are all ideas — resiliency, sustainability, materials transparency, and wellness — are all ideas that we promote and focus on at our Net Zero Conference. There we’re bringing together the top names in the industry to share their cutting edge ideas, so if you want to check it out, it’s www.netzeroconference.com. You can see some of the keynotes and talks and topics that are most relevant as we really push the green building movement forward from 2020 into the future.
I’m going to flip topics just a little bit…. So my background is mechanical engineering, I’ve also got degrees in architecture and in urban planning, and Drew and I share an architecture background. But what I do in my engineering work specific focus on buildings related to energy, water efficiency, and resources, Drew’s team has continued to drive this to make it recognized in the state of California and prove that it’s possible. I’m also going to touch on materials transparency a little bit, because I actually serve with an organization named, which is actually one of the premier certification bodies for products internationally.
I’m really happy that you touched on Declare, because we’ve started to see Global Green Tag clients asking how difficult is it for us to assist them with their Declare lables. You and I both know it’s difficult in the sense of transparency to share down to 100 PPM [parts per million] level, what ingredients go into the product and after that, what have you done to mitigate any potential damage that’s being done. At the end of it all, Green Tag has what it calls a “Health Rate” which is a healthiness metric for the product. Drew, related to these items, can you talk about the synergistic and the holistic effects of the green building projects you’ve done?
It really impacts how designers and architects work. Typically architects are looking at cost for building products that they specify, and aesthetics, what the things look like, when they’re choosing any type of building product. Now there really needs to be a third consideration, for all designers, around sustainability, and that includes the healthiness of the materials that they’re specifying in their designs. This is something that we’re huge proponents of at Verdical Group, we talk about it a lot, and we advise our teams on.
We’ve worked with very large national and international furniture companies, to get Declare label certifications for chairs, tables, workstations, and partitions, that will fill up this million square foot office space. Beyond this one very large project that Google is really helping shape the market with, the exciting thing is that it will then cascade out into the rest of the market in California, across the country, and eventually globally. I definitely think this will continue to scale and grow in the years to come.
A lot of these ideas are common sense, they have been forgotten about and need to be resurfaced, and that’s our role sitting around the table with architects and builders, is to raise our hand for sustainability issues to share the options and alternatives that are out there that often times are forgotten about in the sort of run of the mill, almost factory-like process that a lot of architects and builders take.