As Co-Director of Perkins+Will’s Sustainable Design Initiative, I was energized by this year’s Greenbuild Conference in Philadelphia. With more stakeholders at the table than ever – I talked to as many building owners and accountants as I did architects and engineers – the green building movement is poised to take another evolutionary leap forward and the next year will include many pivotal developments in green building and design. Here are a few of my favorite moments from Greenbuild 2013:
1. Robin Guenther’s Talk about the Future of Healthcare Architecture
Robin Guenther discussed healthcare architecture and the link between green buildings and our health. It sounds simple, right? Clean air, sunlight and the absence of toxins make people healthier – but this isn’t the status quo. And changing business as usual is harder than it sounds. Robin has been a long-standing advocate for incorporating transparency, resiliency and sustainability in her work. She offered an inspirational perspective on the connections between green building and human health, proposing that built environments should enhance our health and comfort instead of compromising them.
2. Peter Busby and Doug Pierce named to the USGBC 2013 Class of LEED Fellows
Two of my sustainability colleagues (and friends), Peter Busby and Doug Pierce have been named to the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) 2013 Class of LEED Fellows. Peter and Doug have both made outstanding contributions to the green building community through their research and built projects. I count myself blessed to have had the opportunity to collaborate with them over the last 13 years. Perkins+Will now has four LEED Fellows within the firm, including Ken Wilson and Paula McEvoy.
3. Breeze Glazer’s Discussion on Lessons Learned in LEED Healthcare
Breeze participated in an interesting panel titled, “LEED for Healthcare: Lessons Learned from the First Three Years” and discussed his experiences advocating for sustainability, resiliency and healthy building materials while working on healthcare projects. He also referenced a recent study he collaborated on with Robin Guenther and Gail Vittori which contradicts the long-standing belief that sustainable hospital design is too costly, making a strong argument for healthier, more sustainable healthcare environments. Breeze is a passionate straight-shooter and I always appreciate his candid, but data driven point of view.
4. Former Senator from New York, Secretary of State, and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton
During the Keynote Thursday night Secretary Clinton did a good job of summing up the successes and current state of the green building movement. While her speech was more congratulatory than content-filled, the question and answer session afterward was refreshing, genuine and inspiring. She touched on energy efficiency, carbon cap and trade, and called out climate change deniers as “the Flat Earth Society” operating in “an evidence-free zone.” Maybe 2016 is the year we finally have a national conversation about Climate Change!
5. Bon Jovi’s Performs at the Greenbuild Celebration on Thursday Night
Having spent a good deal of my formative years in the 1980’s, I don’t know how I could make a list of my favorite moments from this year’s Greenbuild Conference and not include Bon Jovi. While the combination of the performance’s timing, crowd size, and venue’s “no re-entry” policy made getting food and drink difficult that evening – (making for a lot of hungry, sober people. I’m not sure what is worse, hungry sober people or hungry drunk people) – the show itself was great. It was a lot of fun to enjoy the songs from my youth with my good Perkins+Will friends from around the country.
This is a really exciting moment in sustainability. One of the big themes of the conference this year (and of the movement generally) is “Net Positive” – not just in the ways you would expect, like net positive energy or water or carbon, but net positive attitude. The conversation has moved beyond the doom and gloom of the past and sustainability is being discussed in terms of opportunity and prosperity. I can’t wait to see what is next!