The USGBC’s Greenbuild Conference kicked off bright and early Wednesday morning as several speakers took the stage for the opening plenary. Some were expected, like the USGBC President Rick Fedrizzi. Others, like Ira Magaziner of the Clinton Climate Initiative were a pleasant surprise. But we all know who we were really waiting for: the current sage of global sustainability, Bill McDonough – and he didn’t disappoint.

For a few of the highlights of the opening session, read on…

-The CEO of USGBC, Rick Fedrizzi, made several announcements about the current and future status of the USGBC and its LEED program, including several new partnerships with IESNA, ASHRAE, ASID, and others. Climate change is an omnipresent topic, and possibly the most significant announcement surrounded carbon emissions. Following work done by Architecture 2030, AIA, and EPA, the USGBC intends to integrate 50 percent fossil fuel reductions in all LEED projects. Also, all future LEED platinum projects will have their USGBC fees completely refunded. Fedrizzi also announced a report entitled “Greening America’s Schools: Costs and Benefits,” proving a 20-1 return on these projects.

-Bart Harvey of the Enterprise Community Partners announced a new initiative for green buildings within the affordable housing market. The USGBC also announced a partnership with ECP, which has raised $500,000 and hopes to build 8,500 green homes.

-Phil Bernstein of Autodesk announced new features within the Revit Modeling Program to help implement sustainable design through digital tools.

-Ira Magaziner of the Clinton Climate Initiative spoke on their work to create a sustainable market for all aspects of development, from carbon emissions to light bulbs. Primarily through city partnerships, Magaziner hopes to orchestrate the necessary technical assistance to promote widespread adoption of energy reduction and the reversal of climate change.

-And last but not least, Bill McDonough spoke of his history of working with sustainable projects and the obligation that we have, as designers, owners, and developers. Although much of McDonough’s talk was based on previous projects, he did spare a few minutes to talk about his current work in China developing sustainable cities and their national initiatives for viable future communities.

Be sure and check back for more on Greenbuild Conference highlights, including workshop sessions, the exhibit floor, and more!

+ Greenbuild Denver