The USGBC’s annual Greenbuild Conference and Expo in New Orleans wrapped up last Friday and the question I am most asked is, “what was the highlight?”

My response is that the highlight at Greenbuild was the 17,507 ‘green’ building people in attendance. 

I was in an education session watching presenter on the LEED materials credits talk about ‘cradle to cradle’ while Bill McDonough (the author of one of the most important environmental manifestos of our time, “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things”) was leaning against the wall in the back of the room.

Bob Berkebile, principal of BNIM Architects and winner of this year’s Hanley Award for Vision and Leadership In Sustainability (a founder of AIA’s Committee on the Environment and founding member of USGBC) was in the halls and on stage admonishing us that “we are on the brink of screwing up 3.5 billion years of evolution.”

I listened to Jerry Yudelson (President of Green Building Initiative, the organization behind the Green Globes rating system) joined Tristan Roberts (LEEDuser editorial director), in a public conversation about Green Globes in the LEEDuser booth on the Expo floor among 552 exhibitors spread over 142,000 square feet.

I was pleased that so many clients and friends took me up on my offer and joined me early each morning for a cup of coffee, beignets and good conversation at Café Du Monde.

And thousands of other green people earned a total of 37,250 hours in continuing education credits attending more than 240 sessions about how the build, grow and monetize green building. It is clear that green building is thriving.

Arguably among the more important substantive discussions was at the session lead by Brendan Owens about the ICC, ASHRAE, AIA, IES and USGBC agreement to collaborate on the development of future versions of 189.1, the IgCC and LEED.

A lot of attention was garnered by the announcement of a new USGBC Supply Chain Optimization Working Group that will work to perfect the LEED v4 Materials and Resources credits as part of the USGBC and American Chemistry Council joint initiative.

And many attendees were interested in the several presentations on retail market penetration and the report LEED In Motion: Retail.

Scot Horst generated a lot of excitement throughout the conference talking about the LEED Dynamic Plaque.

And while we all know the use of LEED outside the U.S. continues to grow rapidly, we were told at the closing plenary session that an international project in being LEED certified every 8 hours. That is market transformation and business opportunity.

New Orleans was a great place for a fun conference. And it is clear Greenbuild 2015 in Washington DC will be the target rich environment for green people next year. I will see you there ..