Greenbuild, the US Green Building Council’s annual conference took place in Chicago in November. Attended by 28,000 people from 114 countries, the conference is the largest tradeshow dedicated to green building, with over 1,800 active exhibit booths. Three days, six sessions and 16 concurrent tracks (you do the math) provided an array of content encompassing all aspects of green building, materials, energy, sustainability and, of course, LEED. The largest change in content I noticed was the long overdue and necessary emphasis on building metering and performance. I taught a seminar about LEED for Existing Buildings, whose growth in popularity certainly reflects this.
This was the 9th Greenbuild I’ve attended, going back to the first one in Austin, TX. That show exceeded everyone’s expectations by attracting 3,600 attendees. Yet attendance has increased every year since that first one in 2002: 5,100 in Pittsburgh the following year, then Portland, then Atlanta. Chicago then broke 20,000, then Denver, then Boston, then Phoenix, and now Chicago again. This is especially impressive when considering the major recession and belt tightening we are all currently enduring.
Why does this happen? How does this growth continue? It’s because being bitten by the green bug changes one’s thinking, perspective and, eventually, one’s life. Walking the halls and being in the enormous plenary sessions reminds an attendee that this is a serious movement. This thinking has become so much more mainstream in the last 10 years. Just think: How many companies dared announce their green initiatives just 10 years ago? And did you know what a carbon offset was just five years ago? Much has been done, but, fortunately for those of us working in the movement, there is even more to be done.