sustainable cityAs a teaser to our comprehensive Greenbuild Sustainability Report coming out this March, here are our Top 5 sustainability stories from Greenbuild 2015 in Washington, DC.

#1. 84% Waste Diversion at Convention Center 

  • Early in 2015, the Greenbuild Waste Team set a goal diversion rate of 80% for the Greenbuild conference based on the Walter E. Washington Convention Center’s baseline diversion rate of 32%. This dedicated group worked for 6 months to improve front of house bin signage, find haulers for additional waste streams and fine-tune the back dock sorting process for all waste generated by the Greenbuild show. This group, Greenbuild volunteers and a team of 15 people that spent 80 hours manually separating waste, made it possible to exceed our goal and achieve an 84% waste diversion rate.

#2. Over 7,000lbs of Show Donations

  • Each year, our Exhibitor Donation Program collects leftover booth materials from Greenbuild Exhibitors. This year, our exhibitors donated over 7,000 pounds of materials including cement blocks, carpet, insulation, floor tiles and cleaning supplies. These items were donated to local non-profits including Habitat for Humanity of Metropolitan Maryland – RESTORE. Donations also included an attendee clothing drive to support the Safeway Feast of Sharing event which was hosted by the convention center.

#3. Greenbuild Hospitality Tour

  • This year, Greenbuild hosted a “Greenbuild Behind the Scenes: Sustainable Event Tour” to showcase the show’s sustainability efforts to hospitality professionals. The 34 attendees included representatives from hotels, national associations, and international conference organizers. Attendees toured a variety of show areas including the back dock sorting area and convention center control rooms.

#4. 70% Regional Food Sourcing

  • Thanks to the great efforts of the Centerplate Team at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, led by Chef Jon Dornbusch, 33% of the food served at the convention center was sourced locally (within 100 miles) and 70% of the food was sourced regionally (within 500 miles).

#5. 100% Green-e Carbon Offsets

  • In 2014, Greenbuild became the largest US conference ever to become Green-e certified for its carbon offsets. In 2015, the Greenbuild Team remains committed to this standard. In partnership with Terrapass, the following projects will be supported by Greenbuild’s carbon offset purchase: New Beulah Landfill (Dorchester County, MD) and The Big Smile Wind Farm at Dempsey Ridge (Roger Mills and Beckham Counties, OK).

Keep your eye out for our comprehensive report of Greenbuild’s greening initiatives, coming March 2016!

2015 VolsUSGBC is so thankful for our Greenbuild volunteers! As we launch 2016 and prepare for Greenbuild: Iconic Green in Los Angeles, we’d like to highlight a few volunteers from Greenbuild 2015 in Washington, DC.

Taylor Ghost and Emily-Kate Hannapel are students at University of North Carolina at Greensboro, studying interior architecture. They both are interested in the impact of buildings on our environment, and were excited for the opportunity to attend Greenbuild and learn more. In addition to their duties assisting with the conference’s commitment to waste diversion, Taylor and Emily-Kate authored a terrific rap video, linked below.

Tell us a little about yourselves!

TG: I am a senior at UNC-G and will soon graduate with a BFA in Interior Architecture. The program teaches a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach to design. During my junior year in school, I was asked to propose a design concept for a hotel that is moving to an existing building in downtown Greensboro. While I worked on the concept something clicked in me that has since narrowed the focus for my career; I am truly inspired by the impact that commercial interior environments can have on their occupants.

EKH: I’m working on an MFA in Interior Architecture at UNC-G. I’m interested in community-engaged design and the overlap between affordable housing, sustainable design and preservation. After receiving my undergraduate degree from NYU I started an urban farm in Durham, NC and helped to manage my local farmers’ market. I now live in a 12×12′ tiny house on a farm in rural North Carolina with my two dogs.

How would you describe your Greenbuild volunteer experience?

TG: I thoroughly enjoyed my experience! I think I loved meeting people the most and being able to help them in some way.

EKH: I loved my volunteer experience. It was great opportunity to meet presenters and other conference attendees, and just generally make connections. I really believe in the idea of reducing waste and was impressed by Greenbuild’s commitment to reduce their footprint. Being able to help with this, in a very concrete way, felt important.

What was your biggest impression of Greenbuild overall?

TG: Greenbuild had a lot to offer, and I appreciated the balance of the expo, learning sessions, and events throughout the week. The most impactful thing I learned was that one of the easiest ways to promote the wellness and cognitive health of employees in an office environment is to increase air quality. This was the result of an intriguing research study by a group from Harvard that they are calling #theCogfxStudy. I attended their session right before I left and have been chewing on my notes from it since then.

EKH: Attending Greenbuild helped remind me of all the different career options that I have. Most importantly, it connected me to a community of people doing the type of work that I’d like to be doing in the future. After a challenging semester, attending Greenbuild reminded me why I’m studying what I’m studying.

If you were telling a friend to volunteer for Greenbuild in Los Angeles, what advice would you give them?

TG: Invest yourself in the tasks you are asked to do, be present, and be proud to do your part!

EKH: Volunteer! You’ll meet great folks and make a lot of great connections!

GB Vol Rap







By volunteering for eight hours to support the conference, Taylor and Emily Kate received free admission to Greenbuild. By volunteering at Greenbuild in Los Angeles, you can attend for free as well! Check out the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo volunteer page for more information.

1445864860_2015-10-26_greenbuilding_297x150Are you looking to make a lasting impact on the green building industry in South America and across the globe? The Greenbuilding Brasil International Conference & Expo is now accepting education session proposals for the conference taking place August 9-11, 2016 in São Paulo, Brazil.

For the third year, USGBC is partnering with GBC Brasil and Informa Exhibitions to produce the 2016 Greenbuilding Brasil International Conference & Expo, offering the same level of education and community engagement that Greenbuild has brought to North America for more than a decade. This conference will feature education sessions covering all aspects of sustainable design, construction, deconstruction, and operations practices for buildings and communities, including their impact on people, the environment, and the economy.

Top reasons to submit a Greenbuilding Brasil session proposal:

  1. Share innovative ideas. Greenbuilding Brasil is seeking fresh, relevant content presented by subject matter experts and visionaries. Topic priorities for the 2016 program include: Materials, Net Zero, Resilience, Social Responsibility, Community Action & Engagement and Water. For a full list of preferred topics, review the Greenbuilding Brasil Call for Proposals.
  2. Connect with diverse audiences. Presenters will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience reaching diverse audiences at Greenbuilding Brasil. Audiences include: Architects, Engineers, Builders/Contractors, Service Providers, Green Building Leaders, Government Entities, Interior Designers, Real-estate Companies, Urban Planning & Housing Professionals and more.
  3. Reach a rapidly growing market. Brazil is among the top five countries for LEED projects and certifications. With an expanding construction market, Brazil has a significant volume of new developments, generating jobs and wealth to the country. Analysts of this sector forecast significant growth by 2016.

Check out these key resources for detailed instructions on submitting a Greenbuilding Brasil session proposal.

Find out more and submit a session proposal.

Greenbuilding Brasil is also seeking volunteer peer reviewers to evaluate session proposals. Reviewers are eligible to present at Greenbuilding Brasil and receive a registration discount. Learn more and apply to be a reviewer.

Greenbuilding Brasil International Conference & Expo


DSC_6181Thanksgiving is over, you’ve just caught your breath from Greenbuild 2015, and the new year is around the corner… which means the 2016 Greenbuild Call for Proposals and Reviewers are open and ready for you! We want to see you in Los Angeles. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare your education session proposal:

  1. For the first time ever, we have prioritized certain presentation topics, which are: Materials, Net Zero, Resilience, Social Responsibility, Community Action & Engagement and Water. All requested topics are still welcome and important – see more details and the full list in the Call for Proposals.
  2. Sessions that strike the balance between delivering expert content and engaging attendees in the learning process typically attract the most attendees and receive the highest ratings. Check out an informative recorded webinar featuring the Chairs of our Greenbuild working groups and Education Events Committee to hear more about how to successfully craft and submit an education session. Hear recorded webinar and download slides here
  3. Do you work internationally or focus on sustainable communities and/or homes? This year we’re soliciting education session proposals for two of the summits that happen on Tuesday, October 4th. You can find the submittal guides for each summit here and check out the 2015 summit programming here.


Find out more and submit a session proposal.

Greenbuild is also seeking volunteer peer reviewers to evaluate session proposals. Reviewers are eligible to present at Greenbuild and receive a registration discount. Learn more and apply to be a reviewer.

Owners Michael Haft (left) and Harrison Suarez (right) show off Compass’s refillable coffee canisters.

Owners Michael Haft (left) and Harrison Suarez (right) show off Compass’s refillable coffee canisters.

The Greenbuild Greening Committee is working with restaurants near the DC Convention Center to help them green their operations, with support from the DC Sustainable Energy Utility and the National Restaurant Association. This blog series highlights sustainable businesses that are participating in the program.

Compass Coffee offers DC coffee drinkers a sip of sustainability with their morning java. Owned and operated by a pair of former Marines, Compass Coffee has taken steps to make their operations efficient from beginning to end.

Compass Coffee proudly proclaims its “Made in DC” philosophy

Compass Coffee proudly proclaims its “Made in DC” philosophy

In the Beginning: Sourcing Sustainably

Compass Coffee follows a “Made in DC” philosophy that emphasizes locally produced – and delicious – food and drinks. Among the local offerings are salads from Glen’s Garden Market, sandwiches from Broodjes and Bier, and Thunderbeast root beer. For their coffee, which sadly doesn’t grow in DC, they work with small and medium-size farms in Central and South America and Africa.

From Bean to Brew: Efficient Operations

Compass Coffee prioritized water and energy efficiency in its operations. From its plentiful daylight to its LED-lit sign, Compass uses efficient lighting strategies. It also invested in an energy-efficient Loring coffee roaster that reduces emissions by 80%. A Nest thermostat cuts energy use by 15%, and water-saving fixtures in restrooms maximize water efficiency.

End of the Road: Taking Out the Trash

Compass Coffee’s LED-lit sign

Compass Coffee’s LED-lit sign

Compass Coffee employs several strategies to minimize the amount of waste its operations, and its customers, create. Many of its packaging

materials, including hot beverage cups with a minimum of 30% recycled fiber and cold cups that are compostable. Its signature coffee canisters, are recyclable. However, Compass hopes its canisters never reach the recycling bin, and offers customers a discount for refills with a reused canister. In-store, Compass composts its used coffee grounds.

Compass Coffee is located at 1535 7th St NW, approximately an 8-minute walk from the DC Convention Center. You can connect with Compass Coffee on social media at @compasscoffeedc.

 Learn more about green venues and services in D.C., as well as other restaurants taking part in the Greenbuild Greening Committee’s sustainability program.

Greenbuild Greening Sub-Committee Co-Chairs

Allison Porter, LEED AP, Vice President, Sustainability Services, Cushman & Wakefield

Takehiro Nakamura, LEED AP BD+C, Associate, Perkins Eastman


Lois Arena
Senior Mechanical Engineer at Steven Winter Associates, Inc

In 2011, Cornell University had ambitious plans for sustainability including a net-zero academic building and a campus microgrid. Developers came up with a plan to build a high rise residential tower designed to Passive House standards, which will house students and faculty members. With 26 stories and over 350 apartments it will be the largest and tallest Passive House building in the world. We asked Greenbuild session presenter, Lois Arena, to tell us about session C07: The World’s Tallest Passive House: Lessons Learned.

GB: What makes you an expert in this area?

LA: I possess over 5 years experience as a PH consultant, and have certified 7 projects to date.  I am currently working on more than 1/2 dozen large scale PH projects in the Northeast.

GB: Why is the topic of your session important?

LA: This project is the first of its kind.  It is a 26 story, high rise apartment building with over 352 apartments.  When completed and verified, it will be the tallest and largest PH building in the world.  Because of this, the project team has learned valuable information of implementing PH on a large scale.  Sharing this information will be beneficial to the entire building community.

GB: Why should Greenbuild attendees attend YOUR session specifically?

LA: This session will provide perspectives from the developers, architect and consultant, creating a very rounded view of what it takes to apply the PH standard on a large scale.

GB: What’s the most interesting experience you’ve had in the green building/sustainability world?

LA: Entering the PH realm has really been the most interesting experience.  Being so new to the US, the standard is actually ahead of available technology, creating the need for some very creative thinking.  In the five years I’ve been consulting on this standard, I have seen the influx of new, high efficiency products soar, as well as the number of building professionals who are embracing this level of efficiency.  It’s a very exciting time for the energy efficient building sector.

Chris Garvin Partner, Terrapin Bright Green

Chris Garvin
Partner, Terrapin Bright Green

Greenbuild Program Working Group member, Chris Garvin, Partner, Terrapin Bright Green says that this session is interesting because “As we work on strategies to achieve 80% GHG reduction by 2050, projects like this dormitory on Roosevelt Island are critical examples of where the industry needs to quickly move. I also love the integration of building science with construction, something we see too little in our industry.”


Luke Falk

Assistant Vice President at Related Companies

New York, New York

Arianna Sacks Rosenberg

Senior Project Manager at The Hudson Companies Inc.

New York, New York

Deborah Moelis

Senior Associate at Handel Architects

New York, New York



JoAnn Trach Tongson
Associate Principal at Mahan Rykiel Associates

When in an area that is known for crime, drugs and depopulation, how do you stress the importance of ecological efforts to improve that area?

In Baltimore’s highly impervious, economically depressed areas stormwater retrofit was used as a means of ecological enhancement and community building.  A collaborative effort focused on stormwater improvements shows results beyond the federal mandates for pollutant removal indicating increased community satisfaction, public education, and community engagement.

According to Tongson, session presenter for D08: ‘The Wire’ to Watershed: Sparking Change in Baltimore says “Working as a Landscape Architect for over 25 years in designing spaces for people and for environmental enhancements has been tremendous education to then design space for environmental enhancement that serves as spaces for people.  The urban environment is fertile ground for challenging one to do the highest good for the largest audience.”

She says that this session is of great importance to draw attention to the need for community engagement and the need to meet and exceed environmental regulations.  “In an urban area it is critical that the two coexist and support one another.  Providing the voice for communities that are recipients and caretakers of the improvements is critical for both to thrive.”

Tongson says you should attend this session because “It will leave you with the desire to B’More than you are told you can be, to B’Mo

Kim Ilardi Senior Industry Specialist, The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company

Kim Ilardi
Senior Industry Specialist, The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company

re focused on communities, to educate you about the great things happening in Baltimore (B’More). Plus, the attendees will get to laugh a little, cry a little.  It will be better than Cats.”

Kim Ilardi, Program Working Group member, says she’s looking forward to the program because “I think Baltimore often gets a bad wrap, I’m really looking forward to hearing some of the positive things going on in this amazing city.  Being part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the city has a huge responsibility to make sure they are protecting it.”

Session Presenters

Steven Preston

Green Infrastructure Project Manager at Parks & People Foundation

Baltimore, MD

Morgan Grove

Research Scientist / Team Leader at USDA Forest Service

Baltimore, MD

By Timothy P. Runde


Timothy P. Runde Real Estate Appraiser and Consultant/Partner at Carneghi and Partners, Inc.

Timothy P. Runde
Real Estate Appraiser and Consultant/ Partner at Carneghi and Partners, Inc.

NZE buildings present a compelling value premise but obtaining financing isn’t always easy.  In Greenbuild session D01: An Insider’s Guide to Optimizing the Value of NZE Buildings, we will help you learn what financing teams look at when evaluating NZE projects and gain insider tips about what you can do to maximize your project’s chances for success from a valuation expert.

Why am I an expert on this subject? I have 25+ years of hands-on valuation experience with an emphasis on incorporating green building and sustainability into the financing process.  I have valued numerous NZE buildings and can help designers and architects understand what they need to communicate to the financing team so that the value of the project is realized.

Very little gets built without financing or the buy-in of the financing team of a project.  Bridging the gap between those in design and those in finance is essential to making sure worthy projects get financed and built.

A lot of sessions teach us how to design and build better buildings, but few sessions like this one teach us how to navigate the so-called sustainability “Valley of Death”.  No matter how great your project is, if the financing falls through, it won’t be built.  Get insider tips to move your project from concept to completion to successful lease up.


Bill Worthen Founding Principal, Urban Fabrick, Inc.

Bill Worthen
Founding Principal, Urban Fabrick, Inc.

According to Program Working Group member, Bill Worthen, Founding Principal, Urban Fabrick, Inc., “This session is a sleeper. – Timothy Runde is one of the few commercial real estate appraisers have met that can explain, in a fun and interesting way, what the asset value of sustainable design really means. Not all green features and certainly not all LEED credit requirements add to the asset value of the buildings we design. This session connects the dots between design value and asset value.”

GB15_Wisdom2SurviveThe Ninth Annual Greenbuild International Film Festival will be held Wednesday, Nov. 18 – Thursday, Nov. 19 10:00am – 5:00pm. This festival features documentaries, films, and informational videos that promotes innovative green building practices and address social, environmental, and health topics related to the built environment. Below, we hear the backstory of one of this year’s featured films The Wisdom to Survive. Filmmaker Anne Macksoud describes why the subject of climate change is so compelling to her and her partner John Ankele as artists and their desire to engage and educate the world on this issue.

The mission of Old Dog Documentaries (as stated in a tag-line on our website) is: “Educating for Social Justice”.  Of course this could mean any number of things, but for me it has meant co-producing films (with my partner John Ankele) that show the negative impact of US policy on the people of the Global South.  We have made films about Industrial Farming and the Politics of Food, about the Arms Industry selling weapons all over the world, about impoverished coffee farmers in Costa Rica, and about Poverty and AIDS in Africa.  In 2010, after reading Bill McKibben’s book, Eaarth,  Making a Life on a Tough New Planet,     we realized that the issue of Climate Change (an issue we had not focused on) includes all of the social justice issues we had been making films about for almost 30 years. We also realized those issues can no longer be addressed without addressing Climate Change.  For the next 2 years, we turned our full attention to this subject.  We wanted to make a film that would call people to action, as McKibben’s book had called us.  We wanted a film that would tell the dire truth about climate science and at the same time inspire people with hope – not a hope that everything will be OK, but that they will be OK if they get involved in local action and become part of the growing citizen’s climate movement, which is reminiscent of the civil rights movement.

In Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, the main character and narrator, Celie, says this:
“…But one day when I was sitting quiet and feeling like a motherless child, which I was, it come to me: that feeling of being part of everything, not separate at all.  I knew that if I cut a tree, my arm would bleed. And I laughed and cried and I run all around the house…”

Alice Walker says it perfectly for me; what is happening to the natural world is actually happening to me – to all of us.  Our film, The Wisdom to Survive, attempts to help viewers be more aware of this connection, so that they set about finding solutions that will skillfully (and quickly) address what is happening to our world.

John and I have been to dozens of screenings of this film and it seems, in the Q&A sessions that follow the screening, different people are taking away different things.  For me, the takeaway is a heightened realization of how beautiful this world is and how much I love it.  Buddhist Eco-Feminist Joanna Macy says it best at the end of the film, “…you are born into this world, and you’re here to LOVE it and to see that it goes on.”

Author: Chi Chi TruongTalentFX

TalentFX is returning to Greenbuild 2015 taking place in Washington, DC. This cutting edge program features a direct line to master speakers in an intimate setting, offers amazing opportunities to connect with your peers and leaders in the green building industry, and access to invaluable career advice! We could brag about how awesome TalentFX 2015 is going to be all day long, but why take our word for it? Below, Chi Chi Truong, a past TalentFX presenter, shares his story on how his experience lead to deeper collaboration for community impact.

“You are the future leaders of [insert issue or cause]!” said every speaker that has stood before you.

“Change the world! Make a difference!” These were your calls to action when growing up. But how does one go about effecting change?

For as long as I can remember, I was always involved in the community or in after-school activities – sports, academic clubs, performance groups – you name it, I was probably in it! #overachiever

I looked to continue that trajectory post-college graduation by joining the U.S. Green Building Council in 2010. I wanted to apply my growing leadership skills to my new responsibilities as the local Emerging Professionals chair and a National Chair for the University Students program. We partnered with Paradise Key, FIU School of Architecture, Love the Everglades, Waste Management, and many others to organize eco-fashion shows that got people to re-purpose waste into something creative and interesting. We won grants with Net Impact, AIA Young Architects Forum, Catalyst Miami, ULI Young Leaders, and over 30 other organizations to host a public space festival to encourage local residents to activate and revitalize our downtown corridor.

I had a talent of bringing groups of people together and uniting them under a common cause.  I also had an amazing team around me without whom none of this would be possible. But in a community with so many issues, so many organizations, and so many events, it was a challenge to get people to care. As successful as we were, it was not without its share of tumultuous frustrations to get there and to get people engaged.

Jump forward to Greenbuild New Orleans 2014. I was invited to present at TalentFX to share my experiences on community collaboration and how to build support for a project through key and strategic partnerships. Afterwards, I stuck around to answer some questions and speak with people in the audience as well as my fellow presenters. We discovered that many of us have had similar experiences in the community projects where our biggest challenge was getting people to join the effort.

In the following months, I was elected as the president for the USGBC Miami branch where I now had to host and organize these community programs and projects on a monthly basis. Amazingly, a few people approached me with a few ideas and programs that they were working on that they wanted to partner with USGBC on. When I had asked them how they found out about me, they mentioned that a friend of theirs saw my presentation at TalentFX; what a small world. As we began to curate programs together and engage other community stakeholders, more and more organizations began approaching us to partner and collaborate.

It’s one thing to be successful at creating successful projects, but it’s another to make people aware of what you’ve done. Often times we’re afraid of coming off as arrogant if we talk about our accomplishments. But TalentFX is a platform to do just that – to share your achievements and experiences, to celebrate your successes, and to connect with other like-minded community changemakers.


Get on the list for TalentFX announcements and updates here.