Welcome to the Big Easy! I was super excited when I learned that Greenbuild 2014 was slated for New Orleans. I visited in the spring of 2005, months before Hurricane Katrina, and was interested to see how the city has come back to life. With a theme of ‘Leadership Jazz,’ Greenbuild New Orleans was a week of education, inspiration, motivation, and of course great food and amazing music! Weren’t able to attend this year (or want to relive the magic)? Here are five highlights:
1. A Model Home for High-Performance, Healthy Living
On a previous trip to New Orleans I got to tour the Lower 9th Ward and see the amazing work of the Make it Right Foundation. This year at Greenbuild, Make it Right partnered with Living Homes, Hanley Wood, and Cradle to Cradle to build the Greenbuild LivingHome, a modular demonstration home showcasing the latest sustainable, high performance, and healthy living practices. After Greenbuild the home will be transported to a site in the Lower 9th ward and sold through the Make it Right recovery program to a family impacted by Hurricane Katrina. I took a tour of the home staged in the Expo Hall. Not only was the house beautiful (much nicer and larger than my small NYC apartment!) but its thoughtful design seamlessly incorporated resiliency and its selection of materials showcased a clear commitment to sustainability.
2. WELL2014: A Can’t-Miss Greenbuild Preamble
If you didn’t arrive in New Orleans early in the week, you may have missed the WELL2014 Symposium. The movement of wellness as an intrinsic element of our built environment combines building design and construction with the latest information in preventative and holistic medicine to promote personal health and well-being. The 1.0 WELL Building Standard was unveiled and Perkins+Will’s Robin Guenther spoke on “The Impact of Wellness on Design” at the Keynote Panel.
3. Insider Tips on Pitching an Education Session
I’ve had the pleasure of serving on the USGBC’s Greenbuild Program Working Group (PWG) for the past four years and was the Chair of the PWG for 2014. The PWG reviews and selects the educational session proposals for Greenbuild. In 2014 only 18% of education sessions submitted through the Greenbuild Education Session Call for Proposals made it into the final program. Consequently, the PWG wanted to present some ideas on how people can make their proposal stand out. We also wanted to provide insider tips on what the reviewers are looking for and we outlined how the selection process works. In case you were unable to attend, but still want to get a leg up on the competition for the 2015 Call for Proposals the USGBC will be hosting a webinar of our presentation in the beginning of November. (Email us if you are interested in signing up).
4. Project Drawdown: A Platform for Improving the Planet
The closing plenary at the Superdome was filled with amazing entertainment, including local talent Trombone Shorty and the band Alabama Shakes. However, my favorite part was learning about Project Drawdown, a platform for presenting ideas and learning about how to reduce the carbon in our atmosphere over the next thirty years. Who knew that rotational grazing can store 15x more carbon than industrially farmed soil! The coalition of partners, including Perkins+Will’s very own Peter Busby, who is on the Board of Advisors, will work to present the best climate solutions by highlighting their financial, social and environmental impacts.
5. Mardi Gras Comes but Twice a Year during Greenbuild
Of course what’s New Orleans without Mardi-Gras! Yes, it was October (Mardi Gras is traditionally a Spring occasion), but luckily I was still able to find some Mardi Gras spirit during my Friday afternoon tour “The Port of New Orleans Plans for a Green Future.” This tour included a stop at Mardi Gras World where we got to see how the floats are designed, constructed, and best of all recycled, as well as sample some delicious King cake (no baby in my slice)!
Greenbuild always offers an incredibly inspiring array of events, seminars, and activities to keep the sustainable spirit alive until its next iteration in 2015. Can’t wait to see what DC has in store for next year!