2014-11-greenbuild-cities-thumbDenis Du Bois tore open the Greenbuild 2014 agenda like a kid in a candy store. Here are his suggested education sessions and events. What’s on your schedule?

Greenbuild New Orleans 2014These are the 19 sessions (out of 120!) that grabbed my attention. I have particular interests in energy efficiency and sustainable cities, which guide my selections of just how I’ll spend my precious time during Greenbuild 2014. BTW, If you’ve attended Greenbuild you know by now that you should sign up early for education sessions. The best ones fill up quickly, signed-up attendees enter first, and you’ll stand in enough lines in New Orleans!


A03 – Leading Southern Cities Ramp Up on Building Efficiency. This should be an interesting case study session. Government leaders from Houston, Atlanta, and Orlando will share the stories of how they are working to scale up energy efficiency in the largest public and private sector buildings that constitute roughly half of the built square footage of their cities. If your interest is residential, then consider A12 as an alternative.

A12 – Powering Community: Engagement for High Performance Neighborhoods. Of the three speakers, two are from the same architecture firm (the reason this is my second choice for this hour) and all are from Pittsburgh. They propose that high performance neighborhoods are best built by empowered communities, and promise to identify opportunities to build community capacity through the planning and design processes.

B12 – Big Easy Steps to Energy Efficiency for City Owned Buildings. New Orleans, this year’s conference location, invites us to examine the positive outcomes of Hurricane Katrina. Several sessions at Greenbuild will focus on this. My interest in energy efficiency makes this one stand out for me.

C07 – Hot, Humid & Cool: Passive House in the Deep South. Passivhaus in a tropical climate zone? Katrin Klingenberg, Executive Director at Passive House Institute US, and one other presenter will look at some of the underlying issues through built work as well as through collected energy and comfort data from an example project in LaFayette, Louisiana.

Opening Keynote and Celebration. Of course. The opening party at Greenbuild is not to be missed. Paul Hawken will once again take the stage at Greenbuild. The author and environmentalist will conduct a conversation about “The Dollars and Sense of Climate Change” with Tom Steyer, President of NextGen Climate, and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. Then get ready to party to music by Alabama Shakes and New Orleans natives Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. Take the shuttle between the Morial Convention Center and the New Orleans Superdome. The opening keynote and celebration is included in the full conference pass; if you don’t have one, you’ll need to plunk down an extra $150 to attend.

Net Zero Energy Zone – Eleven exhibitors will run their booths on solar power, forming a Net Zero Pavilion. Upstairs will be a Net Zero Networking Lounge with a dashboard where visitors can watch the pavilion’s energy performance in real time.


D08 – Challenges & Opportunities: Demand Response & Peak Load Reduction. These presenters appear to have amassed quite a bit of data about commercial building occupant energy use behavior and barriers to participation. LEED v4’s Demand Response credit is intended to reduce the load on the electric grid through peak load reduction. This session addresses the LEED DR credit requirements, the building operators’ interest in and ability to participate in DR programs, and strategies to facilitate cost-effective, large-scale deployments of DR.

E13 – High performance through Post Occupancy Engagement: 4 firms go deep. The panelists argue not for Post Occupancy Evaluation, but Post Occupancy Engagement, where the design team maintains a connection with the buildings and their occupants long term. With case studies they show it is possible to achieve performance exceeding predictions, but that it requires designers to work in new ways, staying engaged with buildings long after they’re ‘done.’

F01 – Persistence is a Virtue: Energy Efficiency M&V. Even the best efficiency providers see little upside in checking up on building performance after project completion. Utility incentive programs have perpetuated this problem by using “deemed savings” instead of measurement and verification. From the description it sounds as though the panelists don’t really have the solution. If you find that depressing, you can go to session F15 and hear Master Speaker Deepak Chopra, MD, instead.


G01 – The New Orleans Principles – 3 Trajectories 9 Years Later. This is a locally and historically relevant subject. The panel is made up of good speakers, most of home have spoken at Greenbuild before. Overall good topic and it should be an interesting session, with case studies. The New Orleans Principles were the result of a fast-track effort led by several USGBC Chapters in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to guide the reconstruction of New Orleans towards a more sustainable future.

H01 – Getting Credit for Doing Good – Social Equity Pilot Library Credit. This is a good mix of speakers, all of whom have spoken a Greenbuild before. Locally relevant and overall good topic. The LEED Social Equity Pilot Credit will reward strategies that improve the lives of all people, especially the most vulnerable, incorporating social equity into the way we design, build, and operate all aspects of our projects.

Closing Plenary. Keynote speaker David Brooks is an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, as well as a frequent analyst on NPR’s All Things Considered and PBS NewsHour. He looks inside our heads to see how humans make decisions.

To see the Greenbuild 2014 agenda go here. To register for Greenbuild 2014 go here.

Denis Du Bois is one of the many Greenbuild session reviewers who evaluate education session proposals for inclusion in the conference.