November 15, 2005
Nearly 600 exhibitors touted
their products on the show floor at Greenbuild.
Harvey Bernstein of MHC presents
the results of the Green Smart Market report, a survey
done for USGBC by Architectural Record publisher McGraw-Hill.
Andres Duany speaks to an enthusiastic
crowd at Greenbuild.
After the awards ceremony at
the Tabernacle on Thursday, a crowd gathered onstage to
dance and sing with southern songstress Leela James.
The New York chapter of USGBC
hosted a reception at Interfaces new showroom in
Images Courtesy Deborah Snoonian
Last week Greenbuild, the annual conference
of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), drew nearly 10,000
people and 600 exhibitors to the Georgia World Congress Center
in Atlanta for three days of speeches, technical sessions,
tours, and workshops. The event has grown in size nearly tenfold
since 2002, quickly becoming the largest green building conference
in the country. At the same time, the council's five-year
old LEED rating system has become the most widely-used voluntary
sustainability standard by government agencies and other owners.
The event began with a welcome and announcements from Rick
Fedrizzi, USGBC's president and CEO. Following his talk, the
plenary session featured keynote addresses by Interface CEO
Ray Anderson, a leader in reducing waste and petroleum use
in the carpet industry; Janine Benyus, a natural-systems consultant
and author of Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature; and
environmentalist Paul Hawken, author of the influential texts
Natural Capitalism and The Ecology of Commerce. Each drew
One major announcement by USGBC was an overhaul of the submittal
process for LEED certification. It is now a paperless process,
with data submittal conducted entirely online. Additionally,
project teams have the option to submit LEED data in two stages,
during design and after construction, instead of just at the
end of a project. The overhaul was intended to streamline
LEED submissions and make the process less expensive to complete,
says the council. Owners must still pay a fee to get projects
certified, and LEED data will continue to be reviewed by independent
third-party organizations to determine the final number of
points given to each project.
This year has been marked by growth and many milestones for
the council, said Fedrizzi during his plenary address. Technical
guides for the two newest LEED rating systems, for commercial
interiors and existing buildings, were released in 2005. The
original LEED system for new construction was also updated,
with changes to several credits. New rating systems for homes,
core and shell buildings, and neighborhood developments are
underway. Fedrizzi also stressed the importance of the 60-plus
local chapters of USGBC, calling them "the front doors"
for green design professionals. In addition, the council extended
membership privileges to trade organizations for the first
time this year. "Opening our doors to new members creates
opportunities greatly increases our ability to effect market
transformation," he said.
Throughout the event USGBC's leadership emphasized the business
benefits of green building, summed up by a new slogan: "Build
Green. Everyone profits." This may be a reaction to a
recent trend in which owners and project teams use the LEED
rating system as a design guide, but in the end do not spend
the extra money to get a building certified. David Gottfried,
co-founder of USGBC, said the organization's top challenge
now is making the business case for LEED certification. "We've
been reaching out to banks, lenders, and the owner community,
because without them, we can't make progress," he said
in an interview with Architectural Record. The council is
convening its first day-long workshop for the financial community
on December 5 in New York City.
During the conference, the council also hosted four design
charrettes to set forth guidelines and principles for rebuilding
the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The discussion was inspired in part by a widely circulated,
ten-point action plan written by Alex Wilson, founder of BuildingGreen
and executive editor of Environmental Building News. Over
120 design professionals participated in the process. Bob
Berkebile, FAIA, principal of BNIM architects of Kansas City,
flew to New Orleans early Friday morning to present the planning
charrettes' results at a rebuilding conference sponsored by
the AIA and others.
Many applauded the council's intention to implement LEED
for Neighborhood Developments (LEED-ND), which goes beyond
the scale of individual buildings to address the environmental
performance of communities. The standard will be released
in draft form in 2007. The Congress for New Urbanism is participating
in its development, among other groups. Andres Duany, who
is considered by many to be the founder of the New Urbanism,
heralded the achievements of LEED and the environmental movement,
but added that its rhetoric needs to evolve. "The American
model of environmentalism uses only the tools of nature to
make its case for environmental protection," he said.
"It also needs to embrace culture-the realities of human
activity and interaction with nature-to be successful."
His remarks drew laughs and applause. Duany is among those
working on LEED-ND, which he says, "must intercept and
understand" patterns of human habitation that lead to
sprawl before they spread to cultures outside the U.S.
Attendees for Greenbuild ran the spectrum from architects
and engineers to owners, contractors, building product manufacturers,
and specialized consultants. In addition to technical sessions
and speeches, the crowd enjoyed a welcome party hosted by
the USGBC's Atlanta Chapter at the Georgia Rail Depot, as
well as an awards ceremony and live music on Thursday evening
at The Tabernacle.