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BDS at Green Building conference in Chicago

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Chicago Green Building Conference!Last week Debbie Cleek - BDS’s Green Building Specialist - attended GreenBuild in Chicago.  The annual conference, organized by the US Green Building Council, attracted attendees from around the world, representing every part of the development process (real estate agents, financiers, developers, builders, architects, engineers, product manufactures, building owners and government officials).  

The overwhelming size and energy of the event was hard to ignore.  The conference was attended by nearly 22,000 people and took place in one of the largest buildings in the country, McCormick Place. In the Exhibit Hall more then 750 exhibitors had booths displaying their green building related products and services.  To put the size of the event in perspective - the first GreenBuild conference held 15 years ago attracted 85 attendees.   Every educational session was filled past capacity and the overwhelming feel of the event was that attendees were clamoring to learn as much as they could to keep up, or stay ahead of the “huge green wave” washing over our country.

Chicago Convention Center - Green Roof Former President Bill Clinton gave the opening speech, saying that green technology represents the greatest economic opportunity for the US since World War II.  The Clinton Climate Initiative has made the greening of existing buildings in the US one of it’s major focuses - since existing buildings represent about 40% of all green house gas emissions (compared to 16% from transportation uses).   In a separate educational session about energy efficiency for existing buildings the speaker noted that only about 80% of building owners have ever done an energy audit.  However, in most buildings the occupancy load and plug load (how much equipment is used in the building) has greatly increased beyond what the building was originally designed for.  With the cost of energy rising every year, evaluating the efficiency of existing buildings also represents expediential cost savings for building owners.

Chicago at night! In addition to the Conference, Debbie attended an all day class on “Understanding LEED Project Cost and Returns”. The class showed how to evaluate the cost of adding green features to buildings by looking at financial cost compared to life cycle benefits.  Benefits were looked at from both a profit side (energy savings, longer operational life, marketing advantage, etc) and a planet side (lower CO2 emissions, pollution control, etc.). The class also covered a number of research studies done on the up-front costs of building green. These studies found that there is no significant difference between the cost of building a green building and non-green building.

If you are interested in learning more about BDS’s role in green building or about any of the information presented at the GreenBuild Conference, please contact Debbie Cleek at 502-823-9651 or dcleek@ci.portland.or.us.

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