Six people who know quite a lot about sustainability came to the stage Sept. 29 in Los Angeles to pass along their thoughts to HIVE Conference attendees. Here are some of the most notable things they said:

Lee Clark-Sellers, innovation officer, Ply Gem
Innovation is a journey that has to have quantitative value to the user. For instance, at Ply Gem, CEO Gary Robinette asked how we could get on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. We decided to look at the key indicators, pick 30 of the 70-odd ones, and focused on the stuff that's logical, like using less water and less waste. By having key indicators, we're trying to convert that to metrics and a scorecard so you can seek to improve upon that. "We've started to quantify that journal to sustainability."

Lee Clark-Sellers.
Lee Clark-Sellers.

Bill Hayward, CEO and chief sustainability officer for Hayward Lumber and the Hayward Health Homes Initiative
Promoting healthy homes can be the fulcrum that enables us to bring innovation to housing. "How many of you have ever considered how your home might be impacting your health?" (Lots of people raised their hands) "So I don't have to prove to you how big the market is." The Environmental Protection Agency believes 50% of illness comes from the house. "That means our industry is a problem. It also means our industry is a solution." Building healthy homes can cut the nation's health care spending bill by as much as 25%, and research shows customers are willing to support it. "Consumers ... aren't so willing to pay for sustainability, but they are willing to pay for health."

Dan Bridleman, SVP for sustainability, technology and strategic sourcing, KB Home
Sustainability strategy can involve many pieces. One of our ideas was to use paint with no VOCs. But it would cost us an extra $120 per house to do that. So I asked our partner, Sherwin Williams, how we could use zero-VOC paint in every home, and we got our painters into the conversation too, and our senior people. It turns out we were using 20 different variations of white paint. If we could bulk produce just one version of white and put it in larger cans, we not only could have that be zero-VOC paint, we could do it for less.

Blaine Brownell, associate professor and director of graduate studies, University of Minnesota School of Architecture
Designers often focus on the first use of a product, not material flows. Designers are more like online shoppers these days. We don't create products, we select products. "As we see more salvaged materials be used, how can we be responsible not only to code compliance questions but also human health questions."

Dan Fulton, retired CEO, Weyerhaeuser Corp.
Housing really starts with land planning, community planning. It's more than the structure on a lot. Look at shopping centers with vast parking lots that are on major arterials. Lots of those are being converted to multifamily. That's nice, but thinking about that in advance would be good.

Bill McDonough, architect and promoter of cradle-to-cradle design
Language matters. I'd never use "end of life" to describe something that's not a living thing. We say "end of use." When you do that, watch what happens to design. "In a certain sense, a house is a tool we use to manifest our physical life. And the value of the tool is put there by the user. ... if you give a hammer to a child it becomes a toy. If you give it to a carpenter, it becomes a house. If you give it to a maniac, it becomes a weapon. But the hammer doesn't know."