“There is no doubt the world is warming,” says Mar Ricketts, principal and founder of GuildWorks in Portland, Ore., which specializes in permanent tension fabric structures. Ricketts considers climate change a market opportunity for people in the shade and comfort industry. In the Expo 2022 session “Warming Earth: The Need for Sustainably Designed and Built Shade and Weather Protection,” Ricketts projects 20% growth in the shade and weather protection industry in the next decade, and he invited attendees to consider becoming more intentional in their own businesses when it comes to sustainability.
“Summers are getting hotter and it’s driving consumer interest,” says Ricketts. He points to new markets opening up such as wineries in the Northwest. “They want shade desperately,” he says. “They depend on visitors, and nobody wants to sip wine with the sun beating down on their heads.”
Ricketts says the shade industry is delivering both comfort and protection, and he encourages businesses to be more intentional when it comes to growing sustainably, which he defines as “meeting current needs without compromising the ability of future populations to meet their needs.” He believes companies should develop their own sustainability programs in three interrelated areas: economic, ecological and social sustainability.
Given that sustainability metrics are difficult to define, Ricketts says each business needs to create its own. The good news, he says, is that compared to traditional construction, lightweight fabric and membrane structures are already far more sustainable because they produce less waste, reduce transportation costs, have shorter construction time frames and produce less pollution.