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October 2015

Built Green Conference 2015 - Creativity and Data in Harmony

Which creative approaches can we employ to generate measureable results for the environment and our communities?

Built Green logoThis question has many correct answers, and around 200 members of the green building community - builders, realtors, suppliers, consultants, and policy makers - gathered at the Built Green Conference on September 9 to pose their own thoughts and learn from others. The day kicked off with an engaging keynote and interview with Joe Whitworth, and then conference-goers filtered into smaller sessions that covered a gamut of topics - from Net Zero to Marketing to Millennials. In between, folks snacked, socialized, and networked in the midst of sponsor booths, collecting the usual goodies and stamping their passports for prizes. The day ended with a lively awards ceremony and reception - complete with a dozen blushing winners and a band.

Built Green conference speakerThe opening remarks and keynote set the conference off in a thought-provoking manner. Joe Whitworth explained the concept of "Quantified Conservation," a process that employs best practices to achieve environmental gains by having good situational awareness and establishing firm outcomes. His method leverages data and analytics to achieve measurable gain.

During the live interview, Joe was asked about the feasibility of employing this approach, how the market and environmental health both are intertwined and can be in opposition to each other, and how to spur needed policy chances. The questions were tough, but the answers were thoughtful, with Joe providing excellent explanations of his ideas and concrete examples of where they have been successfully employed. This discussion leads audience members to pose more questions of their own and to engage Joe in conversation later in the day.

The crowd dispersed for the following breakout sessions with this stimulating discussion on their minds, and later Joe signed books and answered questions one-on-one while attendees ate lunch and poured over their agendas to choose afternoon sessions.

There were four session tracks on the schedule: Building, Policy, Measuring Success, and Creative Approaches. Attendees visited the sessions that interested them the most and were also able to branch out and learn more about a topic they were less familiar with. Presentations covered green building on all scales - from the science of low emitting materials to the methodology of building sustainable communities like Capitol Hill's EcoDistrict. There were hard facts on making net zero energy buildings pencil for builders and soft skills for marketing to millennials. We even got an update on the energy outcomes of zHome, a Built Green model project in Issaquah's Highlands. It was fascinating to look at real performance data and see zHome functioning as designed.

Built Green conferenceThere were also two case studies that attracted huge interest - Seattle's very first Emerald Star project from Dwell Development and a project from Batt+Lear and VELOCIPEDE architects that combined everything (even the kitchen sink!) into a Built Green, Passive House, Living Building, Feng Shui masterpiece of sustainability and experiential design.
The day was lively and long, full of good information and even better discussion. It ended on a high note with the Built Green Hammer and Pioneer Awards and the third annual Green Genius Awards. Developers, builders, and advocates for Built Green were rewarded for their amazing efforts and shook hands with Built Green's newest manager, Leah Missik, and coordinator, Ellen Cole. The Green Genius Awards highlighted the real estate brokers and brokerages that are actively working to promote sustainable development and the transfer of knowledge from the builder to the buyer. Award winners from Built Green and Green Genius include Dwell Development, Tom Balderston, Green Canopy Homes, Polygon Northwest Company, Ichijo USA, gProjects, PHC Construction, Triad Development, SRM Development, Housing Hope, Jay Miller of Keller Williams, Allie Howard of Redfin, Re/Max Metro Realty and Redfin.

All of the winners as well as the conference attendees, sponsors, and students who joined in at #BuiltGreen15 are working toward a more sustainable Pacific Northwest. The conference was able to showcase so many of the creative solutions and measurable results that impact our regional green building marketplace. It was such a great event - and next year is slated to be even better.

Have ideas for next year's conference? Want to learn more about the winning people and projects? Email the Program Manager of Built Green, Leah Missik with your questions and ideas.  See you next year!