Stand Up and Cheer, the EBies are Here!

By Cecil Scheib
Note: this blog is cross-posted from the Urban Green Council blog

On Thursday, June 28, the first annual EBie Awards were held at the Hard Rock Café in Times Square. The EBies are a nationwide, juried competition that celebrates increased sustainability in existing buildings (thus, EBies) and the people behind these improvements. Close to 70 competitors submitted entries, from every region of the country, and the finalists gathered in New York City to down “EBie Elixirs” and wait breathlessly to hear the winners announced (between banter among local and national green building luminaries).

The stated point of the competition is to recognize unsung heroes – but let me tell you, after last night, those heroes have been sung! As a building geek (and speaking for all the other building geeks in the room), it was heartwarming to hear the applause and cheers for all the people working their chillers off to reduce energy and water use in existing buildings. While the “sexy” focus is often on the construction of fancy new structures, in order to reduce the overall impact of our built environment we must also greatly improve our existing buildings.

And while all the hardworking people doing this will tell you they don’t care, I think the truth is that people are motivated by the recognition of their peers (and let’s face it – the chance to have a Broadway star sing to you, as Emily Padgett did). It also helps the recognition of the profession overall to have an Oscar-like production celebrating existing building efforts.

Finalists were from all walks of building management life, including owners, engineers (yes, there were many engineer jokes at the EBies), and in one case, the principal of Rosa Parks Elementary School (Lexington, KY), Leslie Thomas. Leslie stole the show when she described how her team involved the kids in her school in the process of creating energy retrofits – and the kids came up with great ideas, helping the team walk away with a Reformed Gas Guzzler EBie.

In the end, we’re all winners, since reducing energy and water use helps all of us. Ultimately, victory will be defined by all buildings performing like EBie winners. But for now, the green carpet, the Times Square marquee, the fancy drinks, the wild applause, and all the glitz surrounding the EBies should encourage folks to dream how they might be up on stage themselves next year.

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