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Some Notes on This Year’s Greenbuild Conference

Fellow attendees were the highlight of this annual gathering

The annual Greenbuild International Conference brings together thousands of people who all interested in the same thing: sustainable building.
Image Credit: Jimmy Baikovicius / Flickr

The U.S. Green Building Council’s annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo wrapped up November 20 in in Washington, D.C. The question I have been asked most about Greenbuild is, “What was the highlight?”

My response: Greenbuild is the target-rich environment for green building people. The thousands of attendees represent more sustainability and green building business opportunities in a single place than will exist anywhere else on the planet this year. So, the highlight is the people.

Retiring USGBC CEO Rick Fedrizzi did not disappoint in the opening session when he returned to his political rant of years past by attacking Republicans in Congress. It sounded to many like a job interview for an ambassadorship in a Hilary Clinton administration. But his data-heavy diatribe also found support among real estate industry professionals, especially when he said, “The green building industry has shown the world that sustainability is profitable and that profitability is sustainable.”

Many of the businesses profiting from green had their products on display on the Expo Floor. Arguably, that is where the action was. The Unity Home display featured a 1,650-square-foot demonstration show house claiming to achieve LEED for Homes v4 Platinum. The very impressive house aims to hit net-zero energy when it is relocated to its permanent location in New Hampshire.

Future growth for USGBC

Much of what was new was the rollout of Green Business Certification’s “partner” relationships with GRESB, PEER, SITES, and WELL. It is clear that these models for providing certification services represent a significant future growth path for USGBC.

Educational activities abounded. Hot topics included Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and the potential liability arising from EPDs. In the session called EPDs: State of the Art and Advancement by Industry, one of the presenters, Heather Dylla, Director of Sustainable Engineering for the National Asphalt Pavement Association, drilled down into the risks associated with disclosure.

Among the more important substantive discussions of the conference occurred when USGBC’s chief product officer, Scot Horst, and current COO (soon to be CEO) Mahesh Ramanujam, took the stage on Thursday morning and discussed the future of USGBC and GBCI.

I expect to write future blog posts about the announced expansive use (yes, even beyond LEED) of the LEED Dynamic Plaque.

The results of the World Green Building Trends 2016 survey by Dodge Data & Analytics, with funding from United Technologies, was released at the conference. The report concluded that “green building continues to double every three years.” The study also found that “across all regions studied, respondents increasingly projected that more than 60 percent of their projects would be green projects by 2018.” Building occupant demand was the biggest driver for green building (according to 40% of survey respondents), followed by environmental regulations (35%).

Looking ahead to Los Angeles

Market transformation and sector growth continue. At the USGBC annual meeting we were told that in 2015, for the second year, projections indicate that more than 1.85 million square feet per day will be LEED-certified — creating business opportunities for you.

And for those who will complain that this blog post is shameless pandering to USGBC, that may be true. But it is also correct that each year, Greenbuild has been the number one source of new clients for my sustainability and green building law practice.

Greenbuild 2016 in Los Angeles will be the target-rich environment for green building people next year. I will see you in LA.

Stuart Kaplow is an environmental attorney. This column was originally posted at Green Building Law Update. Kaplow is legal counsel and past chair of the U.S. Green Building Council Maryland.

One Comment

  1. user-349933 | | #1

    "Retiring USGBC CEO Rick
    "Retiring USGBC CEO Rick Fedrizzi did not disappoint in the opening session when he returned to his political rant of years past by attacking Republicans in Congress."

    I went to a Green Build Conference, once. Despite the interesting vendors the tone was set by the lead speakers like what apparently took place with Rick Fedrizzi with his "political rant of years past by attacking Republicans in Congress." Once was enough for me. Sad how divisive these people in leadership roles have become. Sure most people in green building might be Democrats but when you are keynoting a conference do you go out of your way to offend a portion of your audience that paid to go to your event? If you believe your positions are correct do you win others over by mocking them? Too bad everything including building is so political these days.

    Isn't CEO Rick Fedrizzi the one who paid himself something like $25,000 a week out of that so called "non for profit"? It is interesting that the highest concentration of LEED buildings are in Washington D.C. LEED has nearly created a monopoly on the green certification market allowing them to pay themselves these salaries that only the one percent ever see. It is amazing the level of money that is made in green building when the elites like Mr. Fedrizzi can take it from taxpayer funded government buildings. Yeah if your tied into the government there sure does seem to be a lot of money to be made these days.

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