Beyond platinum, fireworks

Adam Werbach, Jim Hartzfeld, and Dayna Baumeister

From left: Adam Werbach, Jim Hartzfeld, and Dayna Baumeister, in happier times — before the session got under way.

The hottest ticket I observed at GreenBuild was for a panel titled, "Beyond Platinum, Revolutionary Green," which featured Adam Werbach, Dayna Baumeister, and some other guy.

OK, that's not accurate at all. The "some other guy" was Jim Hartzfeld, a very accomplished figure in sustainability circles, a vice president the impeccably green Interface flooring company, and past or present USGBC board member (Google was not definitive on his current status). I say it that way a) because I knew about them and not him before the session, and b) because of some discord that arose during it between Werbach, whose company Act Now is now a part of Saatchi and Saatchi Worldwide, and Baumeister, a cofounder of the Biomimicry Guild whom I've written of before.

The room was not small, and it was packed. Everyone was asked to squeeze together into all the scattered empty chairs typical of almost any gathering of seated Americans, and still it wasn't enough to keep dozens from having to sit on the floor. The session was fairly loose, a discussion more than a presentation, and I expect I'll have more on the substance of it tomorrow.

But what sticks out from the event, seven hours later, was Werbach's overly rough, semi-snide reactions to Baumeister a couple of times; in one of them, he accused her of being a heartless bitch about poor people. OK, he didn't use those words, but that's a fairer description of that than "some other guy" is of Jim Hartzfeld. I wasn't alone in thinking it, either. An old colleague with whom I was sitting also reacted, and afterward, a colleague of Baumeister's was headed to confront Werbach as I headed toward the door.

I spoke to both of them before leaving the room. To Werbach, who is palpably intense and is regarded by many as either inspirational or a contemptible sellout — he was the president of the Sierra Club at 23, but now promotes sustainability from inside consumer giants such as Wal Mart — I said thanks, told him he has my attention, and observed that he is one complicated dude, which he readily accepted.

To Baumeister, I complimented her on her grace. I dunno if I could have reacted as well as she appeared to, were I in the same situation. I regret to say my notes don't have the exchanges verbatim, but it's because I was pausing to wince over Werbach's implications, which hardly seemed warranted.

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