Destination NeoCon 2012 – Engagement, Education and Inspiration. PART 1

Destination NeoCon 2012 – Engagement, Education and Inspiration. PART 1

By Jill Mendoza: Once again, IDO associates packed their bags and headed north to Chicago.  Our destination, NeoCon 2012.  This is where the industry kicks off its year and where many design professionals “recharge their batteries” or “drain them” depending upon who you roll with! NeoCon 2012, one of the Chicago’s longest-running trade shows, is a show that introduces the latest wares of the office furniture and building products industry.  Saying NeoCon is a three-day trade show is like saying the Super Bowl is just  another football game. While its former dominance in the industry now is challenged by competing shows in Europe and Asia, NeoCon still is the party where you need to make an appearance if you are a player in the game. In previous years, we have prepared blogs showcasing the “Best of Show” but this year we wanted to focus not so much on furniture and product but on ideas and resources in our market place. We wanted to explore ideas that might best reflect  our clients interest and business needs.  With that said, in preparing my research, three common themes emerged; Sustainability as a Given, Evidence-Based Design , and the idea Space = Asset.  I have dedicated this PART ONE of the NeoCon blog series with the theme, Sustainability is a Given. Sustainablilty is becoming expected, but what does that really mean?:  IDO’s awareness about the benefits of sustainable design are well known, to the point that in most of our work it has gone beyond being a requirement. To many clients, it’s expected.  There is a general expectation that not only will spaces be designed to be sustainable, but they will be maintained and operated in that manner as well, and that companies will have policies and procedures to enlist green practices throughout their operations, from mission statements to travel policies.  The biggest difference between this NeoCon 2012 and previous shows, was that sustainability chatter from product and furniture manufactuerer’s was down considerably. I have a theory why the buzz about sustainability was absent from this year’s show and I don’t think it is because sustainability has gone beyond being a requirement in the industry.  I suspect that it may have something to do with the popular green building “voluntary” rating system LEED 2012 launch delay. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced on June 4 that it is delaying the ballot on LEED 2012 until June 1, 2013.  The reason for the dely was noted by, Rick Fedrizzi (President, CEO, and Founding Chairman of the USGBC) when he communicated to its members, “we have heard repeatedly that while our [LEED] community continues to fully embrace our mission, they need more time to absorb the changes we’re proposing and to get their businesses ready to take the step with us.” Having said that, you may want to check out a recent blog posted by local Attorney, William Kelley, with the local Law Firm of Drewry Simmons and Vornehm; Three Green Building Developments to Watch in 2012: The 6 Month Check Up.  Will explains concerns raised from the chemical industry about LEED 2012’s proposed credit for avoiding “chemicals of concern” (including PVC), may have played a role in the LEED 2012 delay. I believe if you connect the dots you will also find the proposed LEED 2012 may have also damped the entire furniture and building product industries zeel for marketing the sustainable qualities of their products.  LEED 2012 was certainly going to be a game changer for the industry.  If you take a cue from the “sustainable silence” at NeoCon, the chemical industry may not be the only industry voicing concerns on Capitol Hill.   

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