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Best of Greenbuild 2011 Education Sessions - Editor's Picks

There are 15 tracks of breakout sessions at Greenbuild 2011, each with 7 sessions. That's over 100 choices, not counting workshops, master speakers, plenary sessions and film festivals. One person can attend a mere 7 sessions in 2 days. Denis Du Bois lists the options that appeal to him this year.

Most of the education sessions at Greenbuild 2011 are incredibly information rich and well presented by panels that include real experts on the subject. Here are my selections:

Wednesday 8:30
Master Speaker Series: Amory Lovins, Chairman and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute. Another session that jumps out at me this morning is "Passivhaus: Bringing German energy design home to LEED" (track 15), even though I'm more of a commercial-buildings guy, I'm designing my own passive solar home and Passivhaus is inspiring.

Wednesday 10:00
If you're bored with Greenbuild 2011 already, or just need to rest your brain, the Greenbuild Film Festival runs from 10:00 to 5:30 today. Or you could kick back with your iPad and read the latest news about Greenbuild. As for me, I never tire of pushing through crowds and descending endless escalators to get to my next education session. I'd like to be able to relax and learn at the same time, but what's the old saying about having your cake?

Wednesday 10:30
"Can we have our cake and eat it too? Balancing efficiency and occupant comfort" (track 11) seems to target the spot where commercial efficiency measures fall flat.

Expo Hall
The massive trade show, with 1,000 companies exhibiting, is open from 9:00 to 5:30 Wednesday and Thursday. The most crowded hours are from noon to 4:00.

Wednesday 4:00
"Do green buildings still make dollars and sense - the next expectations" (track 12) is a must-attend session each year at Greenbuild. CBRE's David Pogue, together with his fellow researchers and other organizations, compile their findings into one session and present it very clearly. If that session is full or doesn't appeal to you, try "The next frontier in energy efficiency - plug load management saves energy and engages tenants" (track 11).

Wednesday 6:30
Opening keynote and celebration -- I find it interesting that USGBC years ago moved their opening keynote sessions from the first morning to the evening. The festival atmosphere of the morning kick-off (remember Denver?) seems to have dissipated with that move, and now it's a cocktail reception with speakers and a band. Tonight's entertainment will include NY Times foreign affairs columnist Tom Friedman, NPR political commentator Cokie Roberts, and the band Maroon5. Get in line early at the Air Canada Centre.

Thursday 8:30
"New life for existing energy models: opportunities, barriers, legal tips and case studies" (track 5) sounds like a lot to cover in 90 minutes, especially for Harvard profs, but I've long been interested in energy modeling. "GreenTech @ Greenbuild" is unfortunately scheduled at the same time.

Thursday 10:30
"Learning from buildings: technologies for measuring, benchmarking and improving performance" (track 5) is a panel of speakers from the Center for the Built Environment at UC Berkeley.

Thursday 4:00
"The retrofit triangle - monetizing green building efficiency gains by linking technology, operations and finance" (track 12).

Friday 8:30
"Building performance assessment for 50 green buildings" (track 5) and "Benchmarking high performance: creating better measures for better buildings" (track 3) both look interesting.