Preview of Greenbuild 2018: Human x Nature

Posted On: 
Nov 9, 2018
Preview of Greenbuild 2018: Human x Nature

Not that I want to continually offer reminders of how new I am to the AEC and sustainable industry—but I am new to the industry. Therefore, every blog post written is approached like a research paper and is always shared with a twinge of fear that the experts are going to find a plethora of inaccuracies and mistakes and call the sustainable blogger police on me. So, it’s silly to think I can make recommendations for Greenbuild 2018, when I haven’t ever been to a conference, and am not attending any this year. It’s taking place November 14-16 in Chicago, but has events running all week. If you don’t know what Greenbuild is, its website describes it as, “Greenbuild is the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. The ideals and passion of the green building community come alive at Greenbuild. The buzz is contagious. Greenbuild brings together industry leaders, experts and frontline professionals dedicated to sustainable building in their everyday work, and a unique energy is sparked. Participants are invigorated. Inspired. They find themselves equipped to return to their jobs with a renewed passion and purpose.”

But I got excited looking at the Greenbuild 2018 website and now wish I’d planned to go. Maybe a newbie eye on the offerings can invigorate seasoned attendees, or make new attendees feel a camaraderie with stranger on the internet, or maybe you’ve not heard of Greenbuild and as a result of my interest, will sign up!

Why attend a conference at all?

There’s so many benefits to attending conferences, whether you are an architect, designer, or a manufacturer. Even if you’re attending to “just” be part of the expo hall, it’s not a bad idea to try to take full advantage of everything the conference has to offer. Understanding what the non-manufacturer attendees are learning helps expand business and knowledge! Some reasons for attending a conference like Greenbuild include:

  1. Education—Most conferences are set-up for the attendees to learn, whether through workshops, breakout sessions, classes, or even through the tradeshow side.
  2. Networking—As discussed in a previous blog, networking is the most obvious benefit for attending conferences, because it can be done even if you don’t attend any educational offerings. Meeting other industry professionals, learning from world experts, observing other like-minded manufacturers or architects both for checking out the competition but also in the mindset of “iron sharpens iron”—all of this only expands your knowledge and your network net. Besides, all marketing and sales is about relationship and this is the perfect opportunity to build those. Being at an event with a bunch of like-minded people is an energy boost that you don’t get from online networking.
  3. Expo Halls and Specification Opportunities—As a vendor, this is your chance to lay the building blocks towards a specification. As an architect or designer, this is your chance to see what new products are available, what old products have been reinvigorated, and what the current trends are. Plus…all the swag! We discussed in a previous blog ways to get specified on LEED projects, and all our research shows a clear relationship between higher rates of specification and attending conferences such as Greenbuild.
  4. New Tools, Tips, and Tactics—Even if you’ve seen something on the internet or in a book, seeing it in person is different. Or you may be considered an expert in your field, but I guarantee there’s someone at a conference who you can learn something new from. Just being in a different environment can rejuvenate a person. And if you’re breaking out of your comfort zone, then even better! Conferences require active and engaged listening, and small talk, and lots of people time. Whether you thrive on that or not, it can still be a challenge in a new place with new people, which is exactly what most people need to break out of old thinking habits and ruts.

What excites me about Greenbuild 2018

There’s so much to do and see at this conference (not to mention the city of Chicago, if you can stay a few extra days). If I were going, these would be the things I’d have on my to do list:

  1. Journey Maps—These are designed to guide the attendee journey throughout the three days based on six different topics: Materials, Resilience, Health and Well-Being, Building Performance, Smart Energy, and Residential. Journey maps include education sessions, specific products, solutions and technology, and experiential learning opportunities.
  2. Amal Clooney—The opening plenary features Amal Clooney, a British human rights lawyer specializing in international law and human rights. While I’m most interested in her career, I am also intrigued to see how her professional career qualifies her to speak at a conference on sustainability. Her client list is impressive, she’s obviously highly educated, and she has experienced a vast number of different cultures and nations throughout her career; therefore, I’m sure whatever she says will be valuable and tie into sustainability somehow. Even if it doesn’t, she’ll still be interesting and maybe she’ll bring along her husband. I’ve heard he’s quite interesting as well.
  3. Carmen Yulin Cruz—The closing plenary features the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Since Hurricane Maria in September 2017, she has become a voice for Puerto Rican citizens and has been integral in lobbying for aid to restore the power grid and enhance infrastructure. It could almost be said that Cruz represents the people and situations that Clooney would fight for, so it’s an interesting juxtaposition of these two greatly accomplished women bookending Greenbuild 2018. Also, as with Clooney, I’m interested to hear what she has to say in relation to sustainability (seems like she would have a lot to say about the importance resiliency in the built environment, for sure!)
  4. mindful MATERIALS Pavilion—New this year, this pavilion on the show floor offers the chance for attendees and exhibitors to converse about product certifications and material transparency documents. This is a great opportunity to educate a massive amount of people about the importance of HPDs, EPDs, LCAs, and Declare Labels.
  5. Women in Green Power Luncheon—The theme of this special event is Leading with Purpose and overall, the luncheon looks like a valuable event to tack onto registration. But what excited me most was the keynote speaker, Jessica N. Grounds and her work in creating and sustaining gender-inclusive work environments. Reading through her bio leads me to believe it will be a very interesting presentation.
  6. Education beyond the norm—Greenbuild 2018 offers over 200 education sessions on various topics that will meet CEU or learning needs. But it offers so much more—Workshops, Master Series, Special Sets, Summits, and Tours. Greenbuild also offers the option to purchase Conference Proceedings, which is a compilation of the conference event resources, meaning if there were events that ran concurrently and you were interested in both, you can have access to that info. I love school, so there are too many learning options at Greenbuild 2018 for me to attend all the ones I’m interested in. But if I were going, I’d use the Journey Maps to search the education options within Materials, Resilience, and Health and Well-Being. Here is my huge list of sessions, workshops, and tours I’d love to take:
    • Social Equity, Human Rights, and Changing Nature of Social Responsibility
    • Immersive Biophilic Interventions
    • Social Equity, Human Rights, and Changing Nature of Social Responsibility
    • Footprints and Handprints on the Journey to Social Equity
    • Genius of Biome: Biomimicry Workshop
    • The Missing Piece to Your Next Wellness Design
    • Invisible Buildings: Why Are We Still Talking to Ourselves?
    • Toward a New Consilience: Art + Science = Sustainable Design
    • LEED Green Associate Bootcamp
    • Steelcase Presents Lunch & Learn: Workplace Wellbeing
    • LEED, Wellness, and Arc in Retail: A Starbucks Perspective
    • Passive Design Reimagined: 20 Ideas to Build Resilience
    • Designing with Nature: A Biomimicry Genius of Place Workshop
    • LEED and Human Health
  7. Tour Chicago—Okay, so this one doesn’t have much to do with the purpose of Greenbuild, but I have never been to Chicago and am dying to visit. Tourist activities can be loosely justified by the history of Chicago during the industrial revolution and its relationship to modern day manufacturing, or by the architectural rebirth after the Great Fire of 1871, or it’s marvelous art community that applies to design in almost every profession attending Greenbuild. So, touring Chicago can most definitely be considered applicable to work while attending Greenbuild.
  8. Conclusion

    That’s a ton of options and it’s only half my list! There is no way I’d be able to attend all of those, plus the special events mentioned above, and try to network and see the expo hall. So even though it can be a large expense to attend conferences like Greenbuild, it seems that the gains from going are worth it. If you go, make sure to come find GreenCE at booth 521 in the expo hall.

    However, if you are like me and not attending Greenbuild 2018, then that opens up time to work on CE credits by taking any of our free or premium courses, sign up for a free webinar, or decide to finally bite the bullet and start studying to become a LEED Green Associate with our free LEED Exam Prep course. We can all pretend together that it’s a fair tradeoff for not being at Greenbuild.

    I’d love to hear from you—Are you going to Greenbuild 2018? What are you most looking forward to at Greenbuild?

For more information or to discuss the topic of this blog, please contact Brad Blank