The just completed 2019 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Atlanta is absolute proof that the LEED green building rating system, with more than 100,000 projects registered and certified, is thriving.

The theme of this year’s Greenbuild was “A New Living Standard,” that everyone, regardless of background or circumstance, deserves a safe and healthy place to call home.

And much of the underlying messaging was about how to talk about green building to those outside of the green tent, shifting from a narrative focused on statistics to a foundation in storytelling. This is a huge positive including not using ‘less inclusive words’ like “global warming” that are politically divisive, in favor of ‘words that work’ like “climate related risks” that describe real world conditions.

As it is each year, the very best thing about this 18th Greenbuild is the people.

The thousands of like minded people gathering in one place is more than just an opportunity to see old friends, it is one huge coterie of green building thought leaders. And that cerebral synchronicity leads to the single best marketing opportunity each year across the green building industrial complex.

Greenbuild is “the” target rich environment for green people. The photo above is some of those green people, friends from Lorax Partnerships, one of the very best green building consulting firms.

The print media, including the New York Times, wrote about the progressive keynote by President Barack Obama, where he described the most compelling issues of the day as “climate change” and “global economic inequality,” however, many viewed giving the stage to a political leader, an alienating figure, had the effect of unnecessarily creating tribes, flying in the face of USGBC’s new stated messaging about avoiding the less inclusive?

However the most talked about topic by those in attendance may have been before the conference formally began, the summit on Tuesday about the RELi rating system addressing resilience (.. yes, one of the words that work) at the building scale.

There are hundreds of education sessions, but the Expo floor is always the most dynamic place at the convention and among the most enlightened of the vendors and trade groups was the National Asphalt Paving Association booth not only providing a practical guide on how asphalt pavements can help owners earn LEED credits, but also information on successes the industry is having with urban heat island effect.

The Green Codes Breakfast was a terrific fast paced 30,000 feet view of the statutes, regulations and codes that have driven the success of LEED through mandates and incentives. I will pen a blog post about the failings of 2018 IgCC and green codes next week.

There was a lot announced for Arc including the free to use “Arc For All” data base.

While there was no announcement, the worst kept secret at Greenbuild is that USGBC is that the work on LEED v 5 (.. in lieu of v 4.2) will soon commence in earnest. Diametrically opposed views of the environment have shaped different visions for the future of LEED. With v 4 and v 4.1, USGBC moved toward a belief that we are using more than our planet has to give and we must drastically cut back and use less energy, water, and …, but some are concerned that there are vestiges of that neo-Luddite view in the new announced LEED Positive, USGBC’s vision statement for regenerative building. That opposition to new technology overtook the longstanding precept by the founders of USGBC that LEED was a science based engineered solution to the environmental problems of the day. A new version not later than 2021, not an update of what exists today, correcting that imbalance, is essential not only for the domestic market acceptance of LEED, but also for mankind to fare well on our increasingly crowded Earth.

To those who find fault with Greenbuild, including that it is not the huge convention it was in years past, and I have been attending USGBC green building conventions since 1994 (.., yes, pre Greenbuild), I suggest the Churchill quote, “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others” is analogous.

If you want timely updates on the most widely used green building program in the world or if you want to market among the once a year business opportunity with a green building industry that is LEED certifying 2.6 million square feet daily, attend Greenbuild in 2020. There will be a Greenbuild in Bengaluru, India, one in Dublin, another in Mexico City; and, I will see you at Greenbuild in San Diego on November 3 – 6, 2020.