GreenerBuilder 2013: A Day of Inspiration, Innovation, and Information

On June 12, a diverse crowd of 500 individuals gathered for a phenomenal GreenerBuilder 2013, the preeminent conference of its kind in Northern California, featuring Jason McLennan, Founder and CEO of Living Building Challenge and Living Futures Institute, and other prominent leaders of the green building industry.

The event was produced by the Northern California Chapter of the US Green Building Council, in partnership with GCI General Contractors, Integral Group, Rudolph and Sletten, Swinerton, Turner Construction, and XL Construction. The third annual GreenerBuilder brought together architects, subcontractors, general contractors, engineers, LEED project managers, builders, and students at the South San Francisco Conference Center for a day imbued with inspiration, information, and innovation. The conference featured a dynamic opening plenary, practical educational sessions, and a moving closing ceremony. The attendees learned what’s on the cutting edge of green building, how to transform how they work in a collaborative framework, and practical information they can take to the job site.

greenerbuilder2013_openingplenaryThe conference got off to a lively start with a roundtable discussion on how to inculcate the new norm of collaboration in green building. Four perspectives from leaders in architecture, engineering, construction, and real estate development engaged and challenged the audience to question how they currently work, and highlight key success factors of emerging best practices. This panel included Jeffrey Birdwell, President of Commercial Development for Sares Regis Group of Northern California , Kirsten Ritchie, Principal and Director of Sustainable Design at Gensler, Kevin Hydes, CEO and Founder of Integral Group, and Michael Deane, VP of Sustainable Construction at Turner Construction Company.

Cliff Brewis, Senior Director of Editorial Operations at McGraw-Hill Construction moderated the opening plenary and urged a free-flowing discussion amongst the panelists. Some takeaway lessons: Kevin Hydes suggested that respecting everyone’s voice and treating them as equals is the most important component of a successful project. Garnering a roomful of applause, Michael Deane shared a similar stance, declaring that the crux behind collaboration is that “everyone has an idea to bring to the table.” Jeffrey Birdwell noted the importance of hiring the best people, after which everything will take care of itself, “because the team will be internally motivated to do the right thing.” Kirsten Ritchie added that different leaders must be integrated at different design phases of the project.

This panel expressed why it’s important to collaborate and what challenges leaders still need to overcome, while the sessions later in the day equipped attendees with practical knowledge to help rise to meet these challenges.

Following the opening plenary, some attendees began to network over coffee while others filed into the Expo Hall to preview the latest green technologies and services. Attendees who collected stamps from Premium Passport Booths were eligible to enter into a drawing for prizes including an iPad mini, hotel stays, Giants baseball tickets, and USGBC-NCC membership.

greenerbuilder2013_audienceThroughout the day, industry leaders convened in nine GBCI-approved sessions for education on topics ranging from the business impacts of green building to the future of Zero Net Energy in California. These sessions were expertly organized by our five conference partners. A session sponsored by BASF and Central Concrete, including Tom Lent of Healthy Building Network, Chris Erickson of Climate Earth, Inc., and Jeff Davis of Central Concrete, a U.S. Concrete Company, focused on an important new topic: materials transparency and product specifications systems such as Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs), Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), and Health Product Declarations (HPDs). These emerging standards are gaining significant attention, particularly with the new Materials Credits being introduced in LEED V4.

greenerbuilder_jason_mclennanThe closing ceremony was a moving and powerful end to the conference. Jason McLennan, CEO of the Living Building Challenge and the Cascadia Green Building Council kicked it off with an inspiring presentation, which invited the audience to expand how they think about green building. Presenting several case studies of Living Building certified projects, he demonstrated that that there is no excuse to not build “regenerative buildings”. Jason’s words were genuine, and he passionately urged the crowd to “fall in love again with the planet.”

greenerbuilder2013_closingplenaryDavid Gottfried, founder of the USGBC, then moderated a discussion with Jason McLennan and George Salah, Director of Real Estate for Google. Asked why Google embraces sustainability, George Salah said for them, it all starts with human health and expands outward from there. The company is a leader in its health initiatives such as demanding transparency of what goes into their building materials and avoiding products with noxious chemicals on the Red List. Since Google adds nearly 50,000 square feet of office space weekly, they exert significant purchasing power by following these standards.

David Gottfried, founder of USGBC and the World Green Building Council, shared that "the conference left him inspired and reinvigorated to continue to innovate and work to push the boundaries of our movement."

We thank our generous Signature Sponsors, BASF and Central Concrete, for their continued support of GreenerBuilder and the Northern California Chapter of USGBC. Their dedication to sustainability and the organization helped make this event possible. We also thank our Platinum Sponsor, NECA/IBEW, our Gold Sponsors, International Living Future Institute and Sloan, and our Silver Sponsors, Northern California Mechanical Contractors’ Assocation and View Inc. We are also incredibly grateful for the volunteers, speakers, exhibitors, partners and attendees who made this event a huge success. To view photos of the event, visit our album here. We invite you to our upcoming local events, and look forward to seeing you next year at GreenerBuilder 2014!


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Annual Sponsors


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Rudolph and Sletten

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U.S. Green Building Council -
North California Chapter

560 Mission St. Suite 900
San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone: (415) 659-9404