My GreenBuild Experience

GreenBuild is a yearly event that offers three days of speakers, workshops, tours to visit green buildings, and networking opportunities, and provides an exhibition hall experience where vendors can promote their latest and greatest. As one of the most notable opportunities in the world for people interested in sustainable design, the event attracts people from diverse backgrounds including architects, engineers, builders, researchers, and more. As my first GreenBuild experience, I learned more about the sustainable built environment, industry trends and best practices than anticipated, but more importantly I also learned how to be a better leader in my industry.

First Impressions

This year GreenBuild was held at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. Upon walking into the convention center I was blown away by the sheer volume of people in attendance. It was exhilarating to know that everybody was there with a single goal and purpose: to spread the awareness of sustainable design and to empower those around them to engage in problem solving and knowledge sharing. It’s refreshing to see people from all over the country and even the world coming together for one great purpose.


The GreenBuild message is not only applicable to the tangible elements of incorporating sustainability into design by targeting the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit but it also applies to the concept of social sustainability. For example, leading organizations like the United Nations define social sustainability as four circles, namely politics, economics, ecology, and culture. Issues surrounding these social were emphasized in the presentations and discussions.

Event Highlights

Speakers and educators from many different backgrounds such as Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Elizabeth Kolbert; the director of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Dr. Donald Schwarz; our national sustainability director, Lidia Berger; and many others came together to make a lasting impact through various presentations. At the Autodesk booth inside GreenBuild, Lidia gave an insightful presentation on the National Mall Underground project, which would not only provide the National Mall with a visitor center, but also would enable the District of Columbia to mitigate against flooding through a stormwater management system, contributing to a lasting sustainable impact in the region.

Lidia Berger

I was also able to listen to Jake Wood, a former U.S. Marine who founded the non-profit organization, Team Rubicon. Jake discussed what it takes to become a leader and how to successfully motivate and manage a sustainable organization to positive outcomes. It was one of those speeches that will stay with me for a long time because of how relatable and applicable his ideas were to my day-to-day work. Jake's presentation not only had many parallels to different business scenarios I encounter, but as a LEED Green Associate, I found his message of leadership even more meaningful.

Elements of Design

My colleagues on the interior and architecture design team and I were fortunate enough to see and learn more about building materials and uses for. Some of the materials we saw and learned more about conserve energy either through the way they block or absorb heat or allow for greater use of sunlight and natural light in building designs. Being able to ask questions directly of the vendors, sometimes the original creator of new material or product, was especially beneficial to our team's learning and will improve our future design capabilities when we apply the technology and materials we learned about to our work.

Building on My Experience

Not only do I feel like I have come away from the GreenBuild experience with more knowledge of my field, but I also feel empowered to apply what I have learned to current and future projects. I now have an improved perspective on what industry leaders can and have done and hope to bring their inspiration into what I do every day—help our clients receive the most cutting-edge product we can deliver. As a LEED Green Associate, I look forward to promoting sustainable design concepts and trends in my cross-departmental discussions and instill my colleagues with an improved sense of what’s possible. I am also encouraged to continue learning more about our industry developments and keep up with the improvements and changes within the sustainable built community.

Next Year’s GreenBuild

For those who have thought about going to the GreenBuild conference but haven't, I encourage you to do so. Next year's conference will be held in Los Angeles, California from October 5-7. Like this year's GreenBuild, next year's event will continue to provide a plethora of specialization niches for a diverse range of sustainable design attendees. I expect that this event will also help change your perception of the industry and reignite your passion to make a lasting contribution to the built world as it did mine. And, most importantly, GreenBuild will provide you with the perfect opportunity to engage with other like-minded individuals in the industry during workshops, expand your knowledge, share yours ideas, and meet many intelligent and impressive leaders in the sustainable design community.

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