Aaand… Action! 5 Takes on Greenbuild L.A.

Lights! Camera! Hooray for Sustainable Hollywood!

This week, as 20,000 enviro-friendly AEC professionals merge into Los Angeles — the city that used to define both urban sprawl and commuter gridlock — the daily smog appears to have lifted. Just weeks after the L.A. City Council publicly proclaimed its intent to replace fossil fuel use with 100% clean energy (some day), the glitzy home of Hollywood now is proudly showing off its award-winning green makeover to an engaged crowd, including 600+ exhibitors.

  • Nearly 100 firms are exhibiting for the first time this year, including Perkins+Will and Trimble

The U.S. Green Building Council‘s (USGBC) annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo officially starts Oct. 5 at the L.A. Convention Center, but additional programming already is under way and will continue all week for the thousands of architects, engineers, planners, contractors, consultants, owners, exhibitors, public officials, and media on hand. Here is our unscientific quick take on five good reasons why they should all be glad to be in La-la-land this week…

  • Not in L.A. this week? Follow the events via Twitter at @Greenbuild#Greenbuild16.

1. WaterBuild Summit – Already ongoing, this first-ever, day-long, preamble to Greenbuild 2016 is new this year, but it is no coincidence that it is taking place in Los Angeles, which has been dealing with a prolonged water crisis. Stressed supply has forced state and municipal restrictions on water use, which has prompted considerable innovation in water conservation, reuse, and other sustainable solutions for both buildings and infrastructure. Speakers today include: Dr. Michael Webber, deputy director of the Energy Institute at The University of Texas at Austin; Fiona Cousins, a principal at Arup, where she is a resiliency expert focused on MEP solutions; Zenia Tata, executive director of global development at the XPRIZE Foundation; and Shaun Donovan, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB); and Ras Baraka, Mayor of Newark NJ;

Just last week, UCLA became the first public university in California to use only electric buses, when two zero-emissions electric vehicles replaced the University’s last diesel buses in the BruinBus transit fleet. (Photo: UCLA Newsroom)

2. Led by UCLA, higher ed is kicking it green. UCLA’s ongoing Sustainable LA Grand Challenge, a university-wide research initiative to transition the L.A. region to 100% renewable energy, 100% local water, and enhanced ecosystem health by 2050. “In California, transportation is estimated to create almost 40% of our greenhouse gases, so a huge part of reducing emissions and improving public health comes down to clean fuel,” said Nurit Katz, UCLA’s chief sustainability officer. She spoke last week after the school announced that it had completed the conversion of its bus fleet to electric vehicles. Among its current building stock, UCLA boasts 27 LEED-certified projects, including six Platinum honorees.

Green efforts at other universities such as Caltech, Stanford, Virginia Tech, UC Berkeley, and UC San Diego, also will be among those highlighted.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti (left) chats with AECOM Chair Michael Burke this summer at the ceremony that saw AECOM’s corporate logo join the city’s iconic downtown skyline. In August, the multinational made an even bolder green statement.

3. AECOM joins skyline, takes lead in reducing carbon footprint. As BuiltWorlds reported in August, the LA-based global AEC giants announced a commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% across global operations by 2020. To achieve this goal, the 100,000-person company says it will focus on its own largest sources of emissions: fleet vehicle fuelpurchased electricity, and heating/cooling for its hundreds of offices worldwide. At this week’s conference, AECOM’s Mark Gander, director of urban mobility and development in its NYC office, will present on both sustainable solutions and “Tomorrow’s Multimodal Transportation Hub.”

  • Industry exhibitors also include: AIA; AISC; Andersen Windows; Arup; Autodesk; Bluebeam; Carrier; Dow Corning; GAF; Georgia Pacific; Graphisoft; Home Depot; Kohler; Kone; Nucor; Otis Elevator; Owens Corning; PlanGrid; Procore; Skanska; Sloan; SMACNA; United Technologies; and View Glass.

4. FareWELL to Founder Rick Fedrizzi. The man who has been the face of a movement since he helped to co-found USGBC in 1993, Fedrizzi announced in July that he had become chairman of the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) and, after Greenbuild, would also become its CEO, effective Nov. 4. His successor atop USGBC is Mahesh Ramanujan, who joined the organization in 2009 and has since served as its CIO and most recently COO. For its part, IWBI also is making news at Greenbuild this year, where it is unveiling the new WELL Building Standard, an evidence-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring the performance of building features that impact health and well-being. It is designed to work in concert with the LEED Green Building Rating System, and the Living Building Challenge.

5. Closing with a BIG star. Arguably architecture’s “man of the moment”, the celebrated Bjarke Ingels, founder of the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), is currently leading design efforts for both Google’s massive corporate headquarters in Mountain View CA, and 2 World Trade Center, the next iconic, 81-story tower rising at the Ground Zero site in Lower Manhattan. But those are just two of his U.S. projects, sampled from an extraordinary international portfolio, past and present, that has seen him hailed as a uniquely innovative “cultural icon,” USGBC says. For Greenbuild’s closing plenary session, Ingels will be interviewed onstage by incoming USGBC chair Ramanujan. They will discuss how new ways of sharing data can increase transparency in cities, and help teams of designers, builders and thinkers to deliver stunning projects that are as technically innovative as they are both cost- and resource-conscious.

For much more, including a list of speakers, exhibitors, and 2016 award-winners, click here. 

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