Taylor Schmidt is one of several Greensburg High students quickly becoming somewhat of an adolescent “green authority,” the senior recently having attended his second Green Build Conference and Expo in as many years the week before Thanksgiving in Boston.


   Taylor Schmidt is one of several Greensburg High students quickly becoming somewhat of an adolescent “green authority,” the senior recently having attended his second Green Build Conference and Expo in as many years the week before Thanksgiving in Boston.
   Sponsored each year by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the annual affair brings together thousands of individuals interested in the further development of sustainable construction and practices, last year’s event having been held in Chicago.
   Overseen by Greensburg City Administrator Steve Hewitt, his assistant Kim Alderfer, USD 422 Superintendent Darin Headrick, USD 422 High School Principal Randy Fulton, and Susan Staats, Schmidt was joined by fellow students Levi Smith, Alexis Fleener and Charlotte Coggins in flying out of Wichita the morning of Tuesday, November 18 for a three-day event that closed the following Friday.
   One of Schmidt’s more memorable experiences at this year’s event was hearing “powerful, inspiring speakers” like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who helped give a face to the successful effort to dismantle apartheid in South Africa late in the previous century.
   “He spoke of the need for change and how the U.S. can better function in terms of managing waste and conservation,” Schmidt said.  “But he was positive in how he said it.”
   Schmidt also recalls USGBC head Rick Fedrizzi having conference participants from both New Orleans and Greensburg stand up for recognition when he spoke at the opening plenary session, to focus attention on those attempting to recover from natural disaster through rebuilding in a sustainable manner.
   Rising early his second day at this year’s event, Schmidt said he’d strolled down to the exhibition area before many were stirring to better examine the hundreds of exhibits showing how to build in more environmentally responsible methods, not expecting to see anyone he knew.  That was before he bumped into Fedrizzi, who’d attended a town hall meeting in Greensburg last winter, after Schmidt had met the enthusiastic green promoter months earlier at the Chicago-centered conference of 2007.
       “We talked a while and he was very interested in how Greensburg is doing,” Schmidt said.  “I really enjoyed talking with him.  He’s just a very powerful man that has a keen interest in our town.  He said he’d like to come out to Greensburg again some time soon to see how we’re progressing.”
   As for the exhibits themselves, Schmidt said he was especially taken with the DuPont display, which included a video featuring the green rebuilding effort of Greensburg.
   “There were hundreds of exhibits to see,” he said, “and they featured all sorts of products from green roofing to LED lighting to responsible plumbing.”
   While at least 20,000 were registered to attend this year’s conference, Schmidt said it was his understanding even more were in Boston for the affair, making this year’s better attended than his inaugural conference last year in Chicago.
    “Last year none of us really knew the different faces that sustainability takes on,” Schmidt said.  “But by this year we’ve learned the impact of taking just a few simple steps toward conservation.  Last year was more of an exposure for me and the others, an exposure to the whole green movement.  It gave us a passion for it.  This year we went knowing more about sustainability and able to appreciate the others there as people who share our passion for this concern.  Even though there were thousands there again this year, it seemed this time like we were more of a large group sharing a common cause.”
   The “others” to whom Schmidt refers include not just those who’ve attended Green Build Conferences, but the other handful of GHS students who’ve been a part of the local Green Club that was started at school shortly after last year’s return from Chicago.
   “There’s maybe 10 of us in Green Club and we have regular meetings,” Schmidt explained.  “We’re interested in becoming more educated in green and helping others get more knowledgeable about it.  And we take trips, other than to Chicago and Boston.  Last summer we visited the NREL (National Renewable Energy Lab) facility in Golden Colorado.  We also visited a smaller green conference in Wichita.”
   Though some may still view the green movement as a passing fad, Schmidt is one who knows better.
   “This is something I’ve learned to have a passion for,” he said.  “And I think it’s going to become a passion for more and more in coming years.  It benefits too many not to.”