Why Poplar?

Green Building OpportunityBuildings consume 72% of all U.S. electricity and represent 38.9% of U.S. primary energy use. A byproduct of this is that buildings account for 38% of all U.S. CO2 greenhouse gas emissions. Buildings consume 14% of all drinking water and also use 40% of all raw materials globally. As a result, efficient building design and construction represents one of the largest opportunities for environmental improvement on our planet.

So, while the opportunity to change buildings is potentially unparalleled, positive impact starts by connecting with people everywhere who are interested in making a change, actively seeking ways to do so and committed to learning more.

Poplar is committed to serving people, and providing the highest quality sustainability education, programs, courses and information to meet the evolving building design and construction industry. With each member or program participant we are growing the green building industry and making incremental improvements toward a more sustainable planet 

Where did the name "Poplar" come from?

Search for "poplar" on Google, and often the first thing that pops up is a reference to the word "populus". The etymology of the word Poplar is derived from populus, which itself perhaps originates from the Etruscan, the eponymous language of an ancient civilization in Italy, in a region known today as Tuscany. While Etruscan civilization influenced Latin culture and language, the term populus now considered of Latin descent.

The Latin word "populus" holds dual meaning as both "of the people" and "that of a poplar tree", the latter being the most common reference today.

Its first origin, the singular meaning "people", evolved from Medieval Latin to the Old English term "lēode", coincidentally pronounced "leed". The term gradually evolved to the Middle English "lede" plural meaning of "people" or "nation".

We thought of Poplar as a singular term, or of a nation, which may be a cohesive unit comprised of many diverse cultural, economic and ethnic groups. As such, the term Poplar, worked for us in representing an idea for a collective, or community of people formed on the basis of a common objective or goal. In our case, the green building industry.

Populus - Our Identification with a Tree

The other meaning of "populus" is that of a genus of approximately 35 deciduous flowering trees found throughout North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. The trees are most commonly referred to as Aspens, however also as Poplars or Cottonwoods.

Consistent with our idea that Poplar be a platform on which something great could be built, the poplar tree has been a source of inspiration and a source of practical tools for purposes, both common and noble, for thousands of years.

Poplar wood has had many applications throughout history. In addition to its use as lumber for log cabins, and for making strong, lightweight shields, Poplar wood has been used in panel painting, a prestigious medium for painters including Albrecht Durer and Leonardo Da Vinci, as far back as the 6th century BC. Indeed, it turns out that the Mona Lisa was painted on a single panel of poplar.

With their stately height, beautiful, ornamental qualities and heart-shaped leaves, it's not surprising that Poplars have also been a source of inspiration. In his encyclopedia "Naturalis Historia", Pliny the Elder, the Roman author and natural philosopher, noted that the finest trees formed the first temples of the gods and he consecrated the Poplar to Hercules. Poems have also been written about the Poplar tree. A beautiful poem titled "The Poplar Field" by William Cowper, a pioneer of romantic poetry, is particularly appropriate to the green building industry in conveying the "perishing pleasures of man":

The Poplar Field

William Cowper (1731–1800)

THE POPLARS are fell’d, farewell to the shade
And the whispering sound of the cool colonnade;
The winds play no longer and sing in the leaves,
Nor Ouse on his bosom their image receives.

Twelve years have elapsed since I first took a view
Of my favourite field, and the bank where they grew:
And now in the grass behold they are laid,
And the tree is my seat that once lent me a shade.

The blackbird has fled to another retreat
Where the hazels afford him a screen from the heat;
And the scene where his melody charm’d me before
Resounds with his sweet-flowing ditty no more.

My fugitive years are all hasting away,
And I must ere long lie as lowly as they,
With a turf on my breast and a stone at my head,
Ere another such grove shall arise in its stead.

‘Tis a sight to engage me, if anything can,
To muse on the perishing pleasures of man;
Short-lived as we are, our enjoyments, I see,
Have a still shorter date; and die sooner than we.

: 650-746-4261