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I'm on my way to Greenbuild, this year in Chicago, where I will find more than 20,000 other attendees fighting me for aisle space at Expo, seats in the various sessions, and, yes, drinks at the bar.
This is my ninth consecutive Greenbuild; I know what to expect. There will be the usual exhibitors: old friends still innovating great green products and unexpected discoveries that I'll share with you later in the week. Some workshops will be enlightening, others trite. Colin Powell, the opening plenary keynote speaker, will be simultaneously inspirational and self-effacing--that is his way. USGBC CEO Rick Fedrizzi will welcome us with his great smile, justifiable pride, and thank us for all we do. You're welcome. We've got a planet to save.
We'll hear a lot about planet saving this week: all the LEED certified buildings, net-zero companies, sustainable developments, dematerializations, recyclable materials, healthier air, green business values, and much, much more. Here is how one observer put it.
"The Observer is constantly buffeted with press releases about the latest LEED-certified apartment building/restaurant/hair salon/dog kennel...There are so many releases, and LEED is so mainstream now, that such certified projects stopped being news a few years ago.
"That said, a release just hit the inbox that could not be ignored: The U.S. Green Building Council-which came up with the whole green-is-good, let's-standardize-and-certify LEED program-just announced that 1 billion square feet of buildings, many of them in the United States, have now been certified. Given that the program is just celebrating its 10th anniversary, that is a pretty amazing accomplishment."
Others are reporting amazing stats: "The U.S. green building market is accelerating at a dramatic rate, says McGraw-Hill Construction's Green Outlook 2011: Green Trends Driving Growth report. The value of green building construction starts was up 50 percent from 2008 to 2010, from $42 billion to $55 billion-$71 billion, and represents 25 percent of all new construction activity in 2010. According to projections, the green building market size is expected to reach $135 billion by 2015."
At Greenbuild it's numbers like these that pump the crowd. Plus it's the camaraderie and networking with like-minded folks that brings us back year after year. As for me, I have a stint at The Knowledge Bar, the newly established resource where attendees can get some face time with "subject matter experts" and get their questions answered.
Holy cow, I better go brush up on those answers.