By Andrew Tolve
For a politician who often projects himself as environmentally conscious, Mayor Gavin Newsom dealt his reputation a blow Thursday when he missed his keynote address at West Coast Green, the largest residential green building conference in the country. Mayoral spokesperson Peter Ragone told us Newsom had planned to speak Saturday and did. But the fact that he missed the slot printed in the schedule chafed more than a few in the audience.
Nearly 7,000 architects, contractors, developers, and policy makers have arrived in San Francisco for the weekend conference (Sept. 28-30), many of whom were left searching for answers on Thursday when the event’s inaugural speech at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium was left unspoken.
It turned out Mayor Newsom was just a few blocks away, celebrating the opening of San Francisco’s new Bloomingdale’s instead.
“I have to say that we are all full of contradictions, and we would not be here today unless we were,” said Jim Chace, director of PG&E’s Pacific Energy Center. Despite Chace’s commendable record with environmental issues, the fact that a PG&E representative was making the announcement only heightened the irony of the moment. “I promised I wouldn’t take any shots (at the Mayor), but this should not be so easy,” Chace continued. “The fact is that there’s a contradiction here, and contradictions are just a sign in our lives that it is time to look at change.”
The Mayor’s absence aside, embracing change is the fixture of this year’s West Coast Green Conference. Presentations about the feasibility and the implementation of green building techniques will continue Friday and Saturday at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Saturday the event is open to the public.
“Clearly there’s nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come,” said Christi Graham, the event’s founder and executive producer. “I do think that we might look back one day and recognize the impact of our gathering here.”