Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jen’s Trade Show Tips: Exhibiting for the First Time

Part 2 of my trade show tips series covers what you should know when exhibiting for the first time. My first experience exhibiting was at Greenbuild 2009, held in Phoenix, Arizona. My primary purpose there was to man the BuildSite booth and showcase our software to lucky passers by.

Exhibiting is very different from walking around a trade show. People come to meet you and not the other way around. While exhibiting, here is what I learned:

Trade Show Tip #5 – When registering, make sure you know where to go and have all pertinent information with you.

What an ordeal this was! My co-workers and I waited in the wrong line to get our badges. We were pre-registered, but we didn’t know we had to wait in Line 1 to “register” there again. Make sure you have all of your registration and login/password information with you. One person did all of the registering for our company and none of us could figure out what to do since we didn’t have that info on hand. Being pre-registered is no excuse as we learned. We ended up calling registration support and they authorized our registration for what seemed like hours later.

Trade Show Tip #6 – Pick up your Badge

While someone “registers” you in Line 1, have another person in Line 2 pick up your badge. This is operating under the assumption that there are two or more of you trying to get your vendor badges. If you’re alone, it takes, well, twice as long.

Trade Show Tip #7 – Timely Set-up for Electronics

Make sure that whatever you bring works both before and after you arrive. Also make sure there are clear instructions from your IT person if you are the one setting up the equipment.

We had to bring laptops and monitors and I had to be walked through the process of setting up by cell phone. I felt a lot of anxiety at the time because I could not get the connections to the monitor or internet to work. I learned my lesson; we should have been better prepared. Keep in mind, every minute you don’t have your booth set up is a minute gone from talking to potential customers.

Trade Show Tip #8 – Make your booth attractive to passers-by

I will be writing another blog post on choosing trade show promo items that don't suck, but until then, my advice is to make sure your booth looks tidy. Reduce clutter! Presentation and a first impression is everything. Good promotional items, when given room to stand out, will always attract attention.

Trade Show Tip #9 – Follow tips #2 and #3 from my previous blog post

If you thought this didn’t apply to you if you’re exhibiting, you’re wrong. Water and comfortable shoes are VERY important. You may not be walking around as much, but you’re still on your feet and you still need water.

Trade Show Tip #10 – Make nice with your booth neighbors

They will help you pass the time and hey, who knows, they might cover for you while you go on a bathroom break.

Trade Show Tip #11 - Take notes and follow-up on inquiries

After speaking with someone, take down key notes on the business card or if they didn't leave one, in your notepad. If you don't know the answer to someone's question, don't worry. Let them know that you'll follow-up with them if they leave their contact info with you.

Have any other good trade show exhibiting tips? Please include them in the comments section!

Photo credit: Melanie, Mimi, Ned, Jen, and Fran man the BuildSite booth at Greenbuild 2009.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

LEED Best Practices for Subcontractors

As a followup on my blog post How to Bid a LEED Project (and Win), here is some advice on LEED best practices for contractors. Once you win your first LEED project, how do you take the next step? How should you manage the LEED submittal process? The following list was compiled from advice given by general contractors at the San Francisco Bay Area GreenerBuilder conference, including Swinerton Builders. Here is what we learned:
  1. Submit your LEED documentation early. Putting off LEED submittals until after you have completed construction can make them more difficult and time-consuming. Make sure you have all the information you need for your submittals before you start the project. This way you can avoid scrambling to gather data sheets and LEED letters after construction.
  2. Meticulously track and document compliance. With LEED, you can never be too careful. General contractors and subs are responsible for up to 21 LEED points, so it is important that contractors pay attention to the details to maximize those points. The products that go into a LEED project are crucial to earning many of the Materials & Resources points. Therefore, check and recheck the materials you choose. You will want to make sure that the key LEED attributes of each product meet USGBC requirements before construction.
  3. Separate LEED submittals from regular submittals. There are two submittal processes for materials in a LEED project: regular submittals and LEED submittals. The two are parallel, but they each travel through different channels of review. Track all your materials through standard submittals and all LEED materials with your LEED submittals.
  4. Develop in-house resources to manage LEED projects. To avoid duplicating your work on the next project, keep a record of LEED data on the materials you use. Each time you work on a LEED project, submittals will get easier if you keep records from the projects you completed in the past. These records will also help you when bidding your next LEED project. General contractors like to work with subs who have experience working with green materials.
Do you have other ideas for subs? Please contribute to this list with your LEED best practices in the comments section below.

Need help with LEED submittals? Check out BuildSite’s demo on submittals for LEED:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Jen’s Trade Show Tips: Attending Your First Show

Are you heading out to your first trade show? Need some trade show tips? In my 2-part series, I will be outlining what I have learned from attending and exhibiting at my first trade shows. Some of this is common sense, but it is definitely worth knowing before you leave for your first show.

My first trade show was World of Concrete in February 2009. As you can guess from the name, it's the biggest event of it's kind. Spanning the entire Las Vegas Convention Center, it was overwhelming to say the least. There were so many different vendors to see and products to check out. My goal was to familiarize myself with the construction industry and network with industry people. It involved a LOT of walking. This is what I learned:

Trade Show Tip #1 – Before you arrive, do some research.

Get a list of vendors and decide who you will be visiting during the show. It is a good idea to then identify where each booth is located on a map of the show floor. I made sure I had the booth numbers circled on my map.

Grab the map and do all of your homework before the actual event. That way, you won’t waste as much time trying to find vendors when you arrive.

Trade Show Tip #2 – Stay hydrated.

It may seem obvious, but if you’re walking and talking to people for hours, make sure you bring water with you. Seriously, you don’t realize how tired you will be. Especially if you are a coffee drinker, you'll run out of gas very fast if you do not remember to drink water throughout the day.

Trade Show Tip #3 – Wear comfortable walking shoes.

What defines a comfortable shoe? Not necessarily what you think. This is something you have to learn through practice. After being on my feet for 8 hours, I realized that what I thought would be comfortable (a pair of lace-up casual shoes with very little support), was not. On day 2, it only got worse. When I got back to my hotel, I wanted to massage my feet and change into flip flops.

Different people like different brands of shoe, so again, you will have to find out what works. I have a coworker that swears by MBT's. I recommend an athletic shoe for your first show. You can experiment from there with different brands and different levels of support.

Trade Show Tip #4 – Take notes on the people you meet.

Each time you get a business card, write notes on the back of it to remind you about the conversation you had. This was an excellent tip from my co-worker, Melanie. You will remember things about the person and the context of your meeting that will help you initiate contact once the trade show is over. Notes can be business-related--"requested info about product x"--or they can be entirely personal--"has a child in x college." It is a good way to remember people in general, but it is especially important when you're meeting several dozen new people each day.

It's your first time at a trade show and maybe you're in Vegas, so have FUN!!!

Photo Credit: Melanie Loftus and Jenifer Chan pose with Elvis at the White Cap booth during World of Concrete in 2009.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

An Interview with GreenerBuilder Leilanie Bruce

Back in June, BuildSite offered a raffle for a $150 gift card at USGBC-NCC's first annual Greener Builder conference for subcontractors. At our drawing in late June, we pulled the name of  Leilanie Bruce from WRNS Studio in San Francisco. Having enjoyed meeting Leilanie so much at the event, we decided to interview her for our blog to find out more about all the exciting plans she has up her sleeves.

Below is an excerpt of the conversation. Thanks for the interview, Leilanie!

Q: Where are you from?

A: I was born in the Philippines but have also lived in Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, and Germany. I'm a citizen of the world.

Q: Where did you go to school?

A: I attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where I received my Bachelor's in Political Science and a Master's in Public Policy.

Q: How long have you worked at WRNS Studio, and what brought you there?

A: I was brought to WRNS on a magical fairy ship known as putting some adventure in my humdrum existence. I had always wanted to go back to San Francisco; so I packed my bags, couch surfed for a little bit, and eventually landed a position at an A&D firm, WRNS Studio. I have been there for the past 3+ years.

Q: What got you interested in green building?

A: I think it all started when I returned to the town where I was born in the Phillippines. I was struck by the dire state of the buildings--the lack of green principles in the architecture was apparent to me. Before working in the industry, I never would have given a second thought to the built environment. At the time I thought about how much better it could be.

I was motivated to focus on the green built sector, and I read all I could on the emerging green movement. Coupled with my past experience in community building and environmental law, this research provided me with a different type of insight. I found that I focused more on cohesiveness; that is to say, the interrelation of various sectors in creating a whole systems approach to green building.

Q: What is keeping you busy at work these days? Any exciting green projects?

A: I am keeping busy with the usual work load: LEED Materials documentation, Resource Librarian, Reception Backup, Project and Construction Coordination, and whatever else lands on my plate. Outside of work, I am excited for my latest venture--learning more about GSA & VA Schedule Contracting.

Q: Are you a LEED AP?

A: I am not a LEED AP but do plan on getting accredited in at least 1 or 2 of the tracks within the year.

Q: At GreenerBuilder, you mentioned that you are known for volunteering for lots of projects. Can you name a project or two you have coming up?

A: I am excited for next year's events for the Metro Programs Committee of which I am an active member. The mission of the committee is to organize educational networking events for all professions related to green building. By highlighting successful local projects and assembling panels on a broad range of sustainability topics, the Metro Programs Committee works hard to ensure that the public stays informed on successful innovations and progress within the green building sector.

I have a few other marketing and communication projects for my father's websites. The first website, Alliance.com, is in the business of providing insurance and related services to clients. The second project for the website QuranPhil.com showcases a transliteration of The Holy Quran to the Philippine national language (Tagalog). We hope to reach out to as many readers as possible, particularly to make the transliteration available to remote places.

Q: Well, you certainly keep yourself busy. Can you name one thing you think you'd like to be when you grow up?

A: Retired.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dealing with Surplus Building Materials in Construction

The other day I visited the site of a couple of our customers, building materials distributors in Northern California. I started thinking about the sheer volume of  surplus building materials I saw around the warehouse. Here is a selection of some of the pictures I took, as well as a few questions that came to mind.

Does your company have surplus building materials that have been lying around far too long but which are actually still useful? Do you wish you knew where to donate the excess from your recently completed project? Has your local city, county or state recently outlawed the use of a product that is perfectly legal somewhere else in the country? Is the excess in the way of the new products or—worse yet—a hazard to your customers or employees?

What gripes do you have about surplus or reusable building materials? What would help you unload the excess? Please leave a comment and let me know. We’re thinking about it and would like to help.

We know there are some excesses out there… How about at your location?