First, don’t miss the star keynote. Ex-presidents have been big hits as Greenbuild keynote speakers. My only disappointment in seeing Bill Clinton at Greenbuild in Chicago was being seated in a press corral about a mile back from the stage. Get in line early for Barack Obama’s keynote on Wednesday at 8:30 am.

Greenbuild 2019 will have a keynote speaker each day. Unless you really need the time to work or network, consider taking in what they have to say. On Tuesday you can hear Bernice King, CEO of The King Center, which educates youth and adults about the nonviolent principles modeled by her parents. Thursday’s keynote will be Jeanne Gang, Int. FAIA and the founding principal and partner of Studio Gang. Friday’s noon panel will be a climate discussion with youth activist Jamie Margolin and “Weather Geeks” host Dr. Marshall Shepherd.

How do I pick education sessions to see at Greenbuild?

With 96 sessions and only 8 opportunities, I try to sample as many Greenbuild education sessions as I can manage, given the logistics and my mental stamina. Greenbuild is inundated with top-notch speaker proposals yearly and the selection process is quite rigorous. (I’ve seen it first hand from both sides.) The planners this year have selected about half and half repeat speakers and new-to-Greenbuild speakers. Most of the content has not been presented elsewhere.

My interest is in how the built environment evolves to maximize energy efficiency and utilize renewable energy resources, whether through the architecture itself, the technology within it, or the behavior of its occupants. “Hardware, software and wetware,” as I like to say. That means intelligent buildings, smart cities, PassivHaus, Zero Net Energy designs, behavioral economics, software and artificial intelligence.

What sessions should you attend at Greenbuild 2019?

Here are my picks for #Greenbuild19 education sessions in Atlanta:


A05 – Urban Eco-Networks: Resilience Planning for our Cities

Wednesday, November 20 from 11:15 AM to 12:15 PM | B302

Biohabitats founder Kieth Bowers will describe how comprehensive ecological assessment and planning can help cities to better address community well-being in the face of a rapidly changing climate and other challenges.

B09 – Choose Your Own Adventure: Green Building in the Age of A.I.

Wednesday, November 20 from 2:30 PM to 3:30 PM | B314

Architect and former journalist Colley Hodges, and real estate investor Julie Hendricks, will identify new and emerging technologies that will impact the future of green building, and the likely timelines within which decision points will emerge related to new and potentially disruptive technologies to the green building movement. (I don’t know what is meant by “Choose your own adventure,” which has been randomly tagged onto two unrelated session titles.)


D09 – Smart Technologies Influence on CRE Strategy and Investment

Thursday, November 21 from 11:15 AM to 12:15 PM | B302

A panel of commercial real estate investment managers will share how they value building technology investments such as connected building systems, data governance models, analytics, network design, and integration with workplace technologies and cloud applications. They promise to address how to prioritize technology throughout the project life-cycle and how to avoid siloed or proprietary solutions.

Occupants are responsible for around three fourths of a multi-tenant building’s energy consumption. These next two sessions focus on the efficiency of the space and the occupants:

E07 – Super-Efficient Spaces, ROI, and the Proven TEOP Model

Thursday, November 21 from 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM | B308

An update of the Tenant Energy Optimization Program (TEOP) from Emily McLaughlin of ULI; what it takes to see sustainable tenant buildouts through from Dana Schneider of JLL; and a firsthand account from a tenant who has successfully built out a sustainable space from Dana Jennings of LinkedIn.

F07 – How to Engage Tenants and Save Energy: Research/Case Studies

Thursday, November 21 from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM | B308

Panelists will discuss recent research and efforts to determine the true impact of tenant engagement activities on the energy efficiency of commercial office properties and which efficiency measures generate the most impact. Cedar Blazek, DOE, will moderate the session and explain DOE’s recent role in facilitating research and developing tools and programs to reduce the split incentive and inspire collaboration between landlords and tenants to reduce energy consumption in commercial buildings.

Sessions on the last day (Friday) tend to be more special-interest or deeper dives compared to earlier sessions. As such they’re often more relaxed and certainly easier to find good seats.


H05 – Strategic Synergy: Resilient, Passive and SmartGrid-Friendly

Friday, November 22 from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM | B302

Not all EUIs are created equal. Three panelists from Portland, Oregon will talk about the time-of-use implications of energy, new trends in energy storage and how this can be integrated into renewable energy systems for better payback and resiliency, and how passive design strategies relate to a building’s load profile and therefore its impact on both global warming and resilience. Grab a latte and a seat and learn about strategies to address resilience for critical facilities and general office buildings, including continuity of operations during extreme circumstances.

H09 – Step Into the Data. Envisioning New Visualization Tools

Friday, November 22 from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM | B305

In the same time slot as the previous topic and just down the hall, another PDX local, Brian Stevens, Visualization Specialist at SERA Architects, and two other panelists will share how visualization platforms and interactive virtual environments – aka gamification— can be conceived and engineered to support early assurance of efficacy of high-performance strategies. By rapidly and virtually visualizing positive outcomes that are possible and negative outcomes to be avoided you can embed the sustainability principles of LEED. You can use VR and AR design environments to visualize sustainability. Now could be the time to “gamify sustainability” to create more good and encourage certification.

What else is going on at Greenbuild in Atlanta?

The Greenbuild International Conference and Expo is the largest annual event for green building professionals worldwide to learn the latest solutions to improve resilience, sustainability, and quality of life in our buildings, cities, and communities.

Despite the massive crowds there are opportunities to network and connect with colleagues at the many special events, including summits, luncheons, happy hours and a big Celebration with rock band Collective Soul. Thousands of products and companies await you in the massive expo hall, which is open Thursday and Friday.

To meet up with members of the press, don’t count on finding them at social gatherings, and they’ve historically not been allowed into the Celebration. Instead, touch base ahead of the conference and be flexible about meeting on the spur of the moment at your booth or at the press rooms provided. Or you might find them heads-down anywhere there’s coffee and wi-fi.

Register for Greenbuild 2019 in Atlanta by 18 November and a 3-day non-member pass will set you back $1149, which is about the same as buying single-day passes for Wednesday and Thursday. Late and on-site registration will be $1,349 for a 3-day pass.

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