Atlanta has been called “a dark horse of sustainability.” A mere three years ago it was selected from among 1,000 submissions to be part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative. In 2018 alone, more than 11 million gross square feet of space achieved LEED certification in the state of Georgia. Now, Atlanta not only has its own strategy for sustainability but has been chosen as the 2019 site for Greenbuild International Conference & Expo 2019.

Atlanta’s  goal of powering the city with 100 percent clean energy by 2035 is ambitious, and the businesses and developers in the city (which is expected to grow from 6M to 8M people by 2040) are up for the challenge. To help that effort along, more than 10K sustainability professionals will be converging in the city this fall at Greenbuild 2019 to share ideas, inspiration, and new solutions.

Here’s what you can expect to find in Atlanta in November:

It Begins at the Airport

More than 103 million people pass through the airport each year. From its own solar production facility to LED runway lights to its Sustainable Food Court Initiative, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport(R) is soaring in its efforts to maintain a more sustainable environment. Among the first international airports to engage in an initiative like this, it uses specialized software to manage utility performance for all its assets.

It was, in fact, the first airport in the world to earn pre-certification under the LEED for Communities program, which tracks energy, water, waste, transportation, and the human experience, including education, prosperity, equability, and health and safety. As we noted in the first part of the series, health (both individual and community) is playing a bigger role in the definition of sustainability — this year and beyond.

Welcome to One of the Greenest Cities in America

Atlanta is now in its fifth year of the Better Buildings Challenge, and is reporting impressive results — both in terms of progress in energy-efficiency and the economic health of its population.

Fast Green Fact: Atlanta is in the top 20 in the Locavore Index for its commitment to healthy food.

The Atlanta Mayor’s office has outlined nine key projects as part of the city’s ongoing sustainability commitment. The Office of Resilience commits that “through action-oriented policies, Atlanta continues to update its city infrastructure to align with these values and become a region that works for its residents, as well as a model for cities globally.”

Atlanta is home to many corporate headquarters. Home Depot, one of Greenbuild’s sponsors, has made a company-wide commitment to sustainability. Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, Invesco, and Newell Rubbermaid have all also been heralded for their commitment to a better planet.

Part of the national Target Cities program, Atlanta’s Eco-District has made a commitment to educating its midtown community about sustainable living practices. These new models of urban development and certification process are intended to “spark a movement of urbanists committed to using a governance and performance framework for district and neighborhood-scale redevelopment.”

Fast Green Fact: Georgia Tech offers a fully-integrated Serve-Learn-Sustain (SLS)  curriculum and the state’s first Master’s program in Sustainability

Touchdown! Football season has begun, which reminds us of “the most sustainable Super Bowl ever.” Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium was the first professional sports stadium in the world to earn LEED Platinum Certification, scoring an impressive 88 points. The Green Sports Alliance declared that this Atlanta-based icon and its practices “brings sustainability to the forefront of sports.“  

Fast Green Fact: Serenbe, an experimental green community outside of Atlanta, has been thriving for more than 15 years and is home to 600 residents

The Event

The organizers of Greenbuild made a firm commitment to “walking the talk” when bringing a conference of this magnitude to a new city. The Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) earned its LEED Gold Certification. This 4 million square foot facility tackled a variety of challenges and has become a model for convention centers nationally. We work closely with the U.S. Green Building Council and its Georgia chapter to engage the local business community in the event, along with national game-changers and leaders.  Last year, 66 percent of event attendees made at least one pledge about their own role in making the Expo itself more sustainable. An impressive 28,000 pledges were made.

Greenbuild organizers set goals for various aspects of conference production — from transportation to and from the convention center, to display production, to the handling of waste and food. Following last year’s event in Chicago, the organizers issued a comprehensive Sustainability Report, measuring every aspect of Greenbuild. Because this annual event is, in effect, its own community, Informa (the organizers) hold themselves to high standards, as if they were a city-within-a-city. The 2018 KPIs will be the stats to beat as we head into 2019.

Atlanta Welcomes You

From a global perspective to local community game-changers, Greenbuild 2019 will give sustainability professionals insights into our industry from a variety of perspectives. You’ll discover why Atlanta is rapidly becoming the epicenter of sustainable innovation in the South.

Greenbuild continues to prioritize sustainability and demonstrate leadership when it comes to greening the conference and events industry. This year’s conference will take place November 20-22 in Atlanta, GA. Registration is now open. Get your tickets here.

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