I took a hiatus from posting to this blog while attending the U.S. Green Building Council’s Greenbuild Conference and Expo so that my situational awareness of Greenbuild would not be clouded by the fog of war. Now with the passage of a few days, let me respond to all who have asked, “How was Greenbuild this year?”

First and foremost I can report that after 12 annual conferences, Greenbuild is thriving.  

Greenbuild 2013 in Philadelphia was a far cry from the first USGBC “Green Building Conference” (yes, pre Greenbuild) held in conjunction with the National Institute of Standards in Gaithersburg, Maryland in 1994 which had 450 people in attendance. This year dwarfed the first Greenbuild in 2002 when 4,189 people gathered in Austin. While I have not seen actual attendance numbers, this year did not eclipse Boston in 2008 when more than 28,224 attended, but remains the largest green building gathering each year.

This year was a birthday party celebrating the 20th anniversary of the USGBC. And the atmosphere was incredibly upbeat and party-like.

Reflecting the internationalization of LEED, there were an impressive number of countries represented. I registered in line behind a woman in a full burqa. And I had a great conversation with a government official from Israel.

There were a very high percentage of “first time” Greenbuild attendees, many who flocked to more than 100 educational session opportunities.

The more than 800 exhibitors were almost more than one could visit, but admittedly there was little innovative new product. What may have been the most interesting on the expo floor was not only the usual FSC versus SFI wood wars, but that this year there was an asphalt pavement booth with scientific studies challenging the concrete vendors.

As LEED v4 launched at Greenbuild, the talk of the conference was the materials credits. Bar none, building materials disclosures was the single most discussed subject among attendees. 122 beta projects are already using LEED v4 and 2 projects have been certified, including an EB project, 1800 K Street in Washington DC.

However, the biggest take away was that after 15 years of LEED, the green building rating system is still flourishing. And after 12 years of Greenbuilds, the conference is thriving.  2013 was simply more of the same and that made attendees very happy!      

The one thing that was missing was a Legal Forum. I appreciate that I have a bias in this area, but the involvement of attorneys needs to be encouraged for the green building industrial complex to continue to grow and mature.

It is clear Greenbuild 2014 in New Orleans, including a Legal Forum will be “the” target rich environment for green building people next year. And there will also be international Greenbuild shows in Italy in October 2014 and in Brazil in August 2014.