Greenbuild 2013, held in Philadelphia, PA from November 20-22, celebrated the 20th anniversary of the U.S. Green Building Council. Focusing on green buildings and sustainability, this international conference and expo brought in over 28,000 green building professionals, each with fresh ideas and a passion of environmental stewardship. This year, SIG sent four team members to the Greenbuild conference. Important topics of interest included the release of LEED v4, as well as additional guidance on LEED recertification for EB: O&M projects. Here are some of our team members’ highlights:
Asa Posner, LEED AP BD+C, Senior Sustainability Consultant – “This was my second Greenbuild conference I’ve attended. I had a clear plan this year of specific educational sessions I wanted to attend – some with LEED-specific topics, some for more personal interest. I thought the conference overall was organized very well, and the trade show offered many different products and companies displaying their state-of-the-art green technologies. A couple of main highlights stand out for me, though. At first, I was concerned about how LEED v4 would be accepted among the community, but I began to understand some of the nuances of the new rating system after several education sessions, and I’m more much more in-tune with what the USGBC is trying to accomplish with this updated version. One quote that was really staggering stuck in my mind also – In the last 7 years, commercial green building in North America went from 1.4% of all construction projects to 44% of all construction projects. That’s a 3200% increase! It’s great to have those kinds of numbers to reinforce the fact that sustainability and green buildings aren’t just part of some greenwashing fad. It’s here to stay, and I get to spend my career making sure of it. That’s a nice feeling.”
Ashish Bagle, LEED AP O+M, ND, BPI Building Analyst, Sustainability Consultant – “2013 was the second Greenbuild I’ve been to. I remember feeling like a kid at Space Camp in San Francisco last year – the most forward-thinking minds in our industry coming together to share what they’d learned over the past year, hearing the stories from peers and icons in the field, and to plan for the future. I couldn’t get enough and returned home with way too much schwag from the exhibit floors and a head full of ideas.
This year, I hit Philadelphia with a little more focus and sort of a mission. Beginning with a full-day LEED EBO&M Version 4 workshop prior to the official start of the main conference, followed by a handful of compelling seminars, I was able to identify a few themes that week. Green design, construction and operation has proven to evolve beyond securing buy-in from early adopters; the focus has now been placed on delving further into the root causes and drivers for owners and developers making sustainability-driven decisions. Greenbuild clearly continues to revolve around the design and construction of new buildings, however we did see that this year there were more technical offerings about existing commercial facilities. The DOE’s developing Building Asset Rating system promises to complement and in some cases open up the option for several different property types to gauge their energy performance. It goes to show that more and better data will ultimately provide the framework for more compelling and more credible business cases.
This year’s Greenbuild was most exciting for me during those times when presenters rallied around the idea of infusing sustainability into all levels and phases of their companies’ business models. In commercial real estate particularly it is becoming more apparent that while the owners and managers pull the trigger on LEED and investment in sustainable measures, it is their tenants as well as the market that drives long-term decisions. I learned about how some prominent private firms continue to use LEED as more and more of a baseline rather than an end-goal (and how they tell their tenants that); I learned about new comprehensive financial models showing up in the market to help people make that case for sustainability by determining the SROI (sustainable return on investment); I learned about how the Appraisal Institute is working to evolve valuation to incorporate some of the less tangible aspects of sustainability into determining the worth of an asset. These are the kinds of shifts that are taking the built environment to new heights. These are the kinds of innovations that will keep our industry from becoming complacent. This is why, for the second year in a row, Greenbuild has helped me fall even more in love with what we are doing.”
Monica Gonzalez, LEED AP BD+C, O+M, Senior Sustainability Consultant – “Greenbuild 2013 marked my third experience at a Greenbuild conference. The USGBC does a phenomenal job of planning and organizing both the educational components of Greenbuild and the large, international crowd it draws. This year, given the changes among the LEED rating systems, I attended courses focusing on recertification and LEED v4 as well as courses that sparked my personal interest. As many LEED EB projects are approaching their recertification sunset dates, it was great to hear how the USGBC acknowledges the significant amount of work it takes for a building team to maintain green best practices and tracking and how they are encouraging these teams to continue their efforts to achieve recertification. Additionally, the USGBC held several sessions to break down piece-by-piece what will change with LEED v4 and how – from the credit content and standards to the logistics of documenting a project LEED Online. (I also learned it’s extremely cold in Philadelphia.) At the end of the day, I believe each of our team members was able to take with him/her information that can be applied to our everyday tasks to grow and foster the green building industry as time moves forward.”
Scott Baker, PE, CxA, LEED AP BD+C, O+M, Director of Technical Services – “This was my second Greenbuild conference. From an Engineering standpoint, this year’s Greenbuild seemed to focus on mandatory ENERGY STAR reporting requirements in cities throughout the country. This ranged from cities with current policies that have already been established to emerging policies. I am excited to see how this mandatory reporting affects the energy consumption in the building stock in those cities. Early this year,ENERGY STAR reported a sample of 30,000 buildings reduced consumption by 7% on average in a 3-year period when maintaining their data for the entire three years. I hope that a trend of energy reduction in these cities meets or exceeds that data and paves the way for all other major cities throughout the country to follow their lead.”