News & Insights

Greenbuild 2023 Accelerates Momentum for Building Transformation

Greenbuild 2023 Accelerates Momentum for Building Transformation

Insights & Perspectives
Introba founder Kevin Hydes standing by the Greenbuild conference sign

By Mat Loup

Washington, DC, was the place to be in late September for thousands of green building industry leaders for the 2023 Greenbuild International Conference + Expo. This year’s theme was “Building Transformation”, a perfect fit for the rapid pace of change in the built environment. With the WELL Summit taking place just a couple of days earlier, it was a packed week.  

In the Headlines

  1. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released a draft of LEED v5 for Operations and Maintenance: Existing Buildings. This new version reinforces the overarching aim of swift decarbonization in the built environment via a focus on ecosystems, equity, health, and resilience. The LEED v5 for Building Design & Construction (BD&C) is slated to come out in Q1 2024.

  2. The White House moved a step closer to publishing a clear definition of zero emissions buildings in the USA. According to White House National Climate Adviser Ali Zaidi, the proposed definition will focus on three areas to deliver building decarbonization: tough energy-efficiency guidelines, the use of 100% clean energy, and buildings having to stop generating emissions on-site.

  3. RMI and the US Green Building Council (USGBC) released a new report that examines the opportunities and challenges of embodied carbon in the built environment. Driving Action on Embodied Carbon in Buildings poses 11 critical questions that continue to hold back progress on this vital topic.

  4. Members of the Embodied Carbon Harmonization and Optimization (ECHO) Project, the brainchild of five leading non-profit organizations, shared its first draft of basic minimum requirements of a common framework for embodied carbon reporting. The ECHO project founders are Architecture 2030, Building Transparency, The Carbon Leadership Forum, The International Living Future Institute, and USGBC. As a member of the MEP 2040 Challenge, Introba is very excited about the ECHO project and the positive impact it will have on harmonizing the measurement of embodied carbon in MEP systems.

Greenbuild Takeaways

Megan White, our Vice President, ESG, gave an extremely well-received presentation alongside Lauren SparandaraErica Spotswood, and Dan Ackerstein on biodiversity and ecology at the Google Bay View campus in California. This project has achieved #LEED Platinum certification and is now aiming for the Living Building Challenge Water Petal certification.

Megan, who was the project's sustainability consultant, is a member of the Bay View Ecology Steering Committee, which was created to make space for conversation, transparency, conflict resolution, and alignment. This group brings key stakeholders to the table: operations, design, sustainability, and ecology, and at the head of the table, the Google facility manager. 

Megan White presenting at Greenbuild

Here are some of the other highlights from a fascinating four days:

  • According to Davina Rooney from the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), we are now moving into a "disorderly decade", as shown by widespread building code chaos as new requirements rapidly leapfrog old ones. The money is real, and properties should be valued for climate risk, referred to as Green Premiums, which are not being recognized in all markets currently.  In terms of climate action, circularity, health, and well-being, there is pressure for everything all at once, but instead, we are behind schedule and should have addressed some of these issues decades ago.

  • As a movement, we need to collate our issues to work out what the global and local priorities are. For example, in global terms, we need to work on creating a better green sustainable supply chain (materials), while the local focus should be on climate resilience and Indigenous partnerships.

  • Decarbonization plans need to be simple to understand. If you cannot explain the plan to your kid, then do not put it into your sustainability report.

  • The next wave of ESG reporting will be integrating factors of modern-day slavery and nature-positive outcomes into company disclosures. 

  • The question used to be “How much will this asset cost the climate?” But the question now is “How much is our climate going to cost this asset?”


    A packed audience listens to Megan White present at Greenbuild

Well Summit Essentials

  • The International Well Building Institute (IWBI) announced the rollout of the WELL Forum, a collaborative space for WELL project teams to discuss their questions and experiences. 

  • Industry leaders in the design and construction industry discussed the barriers and challenges for successfully implementing healthy building materials choices into design projects. The biggest barriers to making healthy materials more mainstream include supply chain transparency, the safety of tradespeople, data quality and availability, misinformation, and lack of a central collective resource for materials information. Communication and risk-taking were noted as important requirements to move the industry forward. 

  • WELL at Scale is a cost-efficient approach to portfolio projects – and can be framed around the idea of portfolio-scale equity.

“This week was historic in green building terms: it was the 30th anniversary of the world’s first green building council — USGBC — which went on to create a global movement that created a nexus between industry, government, and academia,” said Kevin Hydes, Introba Founder. “Every year when I come to this event, the enthusiasm, passion, and commitment of individuals, companies, governments, and NGOs never cease to amaze me.”

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