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CHICAGO-The German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest (Gaccom), along with the German Consulate General and the International Green Coalition, are wrapping up a week of activities meant to jumpstart a trans-Atlantic discussion on the green building movement. Eight companies have come over from Germany to attend the conference as part of a delegation. The week of events has included a roundtable discussion and networking reception Tuesday and a Green Building Innovation Conference Wednesday at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza.

“We wanted to generate a trans-Atlantic dialogue on building efficiency,” Mark Tomkins, Gaccom’s director of consulting services. “We’ve been setting up discussions between partners, architects, eight companies and experts in the field to bring all the people together in one place. Our challenge is just getting attention for this now in the US, adapting the technology and adapting what’s been done in Germany here.”

Mike Kernagis is attending the conference representing Passive House Institute US. The consulting and research firm works to further the domestic implementation of Passive House techniques, which involves application of the highest energy standard in hopes of decreasing heating energy consumption. Kernagis says the German’s are far ahead of the US in terms of the amount of passive house and energy-efficient buildings.

“This is a great opportunity to connect with German manufacturers that have brought their products over,” Kernagis says. “There’s a lot of talk of green businesses and this is where it can happen. You look at where Germany was 10 years ago, and now they have over 10,000 passive houses. The US only has a fraction of that, and we’re looking to inform and improve building efficiency beyond what is available right now in the marketplace.”

Manfred Brausem came over from Germany this week as part of the delegation, representing MB Planungs GmbH, a company which works on passive house elements. “The point of the meetings is to show architects and builders how they could start with energy efficient building planning,” Brausem says. “Most houses here are not very energy efficient, and we can show them how to start and change that. It’s exciting to see people here are interested in the new technology.”

Tomkins says Gaccom plans next year to send an American delegation over to Germany in late summer or early fall. “This is one piece of many things we’ve been doing,” Tomkins says. “The benefit is having more energy-efficiency buildings that cost less to operate and are more comfortable for the people living and working in them. These buildings make sense, and dollars and cents, but also are for the well-being of the people.”

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