Greetings from Palm Desert, Calif., and the Mechanical Contractors Association of America's 2008 convention. This is a new show for the Snips staff and we'll be bringing you full coverage online and in Snips' print version.

My early impressions are that this is a group that enjoys hearing about more than just plumbing, piping and HVAC issues. On Monday, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who served in the Clinton administration, explained why she has hope for the Middle East peace process and still supports free-trade agreements that are not popular with the leading Democratic presidential candidates.

The MCAA has also made a major commitment to green building, hosting several sessions on the topic and even printing the convention brochure on recycled paper with soy ink. The opening reception was given an Earth-oriented theme. While other industry groups are still debating how "green" they want to be, the MCAA's commitment impressed me.