Key Takeaways: Greenbuild Atlanta

Josh Dean, Robert Carr, Bridget Rickman and David Adler, SDGBC.


With conference season winding down, the San Diego Green Building Council was excited to finish off November by attending Greenbuild in Atlanta. This international conference hosts thousands of green building professionals, all working on solutions to improve resilience, sustainability, and quality of life in our buildings, cities, and communities. 

A few of our local members and staff gathered three main takeaways from this year’s event: 

  1. Decarbonization or “Net Zero Carbon” is the present and future of design.
  2. Building resilience within our buildings and communities is key in an era of climate crisis.
  3. Equity and the theme of “listening and then responding” was echoed throughout the week.

The topic of embodied carbon is definitely growing among our colleagues and this was apparent at Greenbuild 2019. Robert Carr, SDGBC, noted the buzz around the launch of the “Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3)” which has come at a time where there is an increasing demand for decarbonization in our built environment. “Net Zero Carbon needs to be the next big push for our industry and folks are getting on board.” - Colleen FitzSimons, Urban Fabrick. More and more clients and even the public are understanding that the built environment accounts for nearly 40% of annual global GHG emissions.

A key theme of San Diego’s conference this year, Resilience, was also high on the list of this international gathering. SDGBC Executive Director, Josh Dean, explained, “Climate change is happening now and we’ll continue to be impacted in various capacities depending on where we live. While there is an urgent need to curtail our carbon emissions, we will continue to see an impact from these past emissions and should be prepared. We should be building and retrofitting the built environment to withstand and recover from unexpected and more intense weather events and natural disasters.”

In addition to factors like decarbonization and resilience, an overarching theme of equity and building stronger communities was apparent in this year’s discussions. “The increased focus on social equity within sustainability topics was definitely present at this year’s Greenbuild Atlanta, whether coming from the executive teams or educational sessions, it is a blessing to see.” - Jenny Kunna, City of San Diego. The building industry has a major influence on our environment and working to create a constructive dialogue and listening first to members of our communities is what will ensure that this lasting influence is positive and continues to advance social equity for generations to come.

“The knowledge transfer and sharing of ideas and best practices in a collaborative space like Greenbuild is how the needle will move forward in our attempts to mitigate the causes of climate change from the built environment.”

- David Adler, SDGBC

The San Diego Green Building Council is excited to continue our mission to inspire, educate and collaborate within our community to transform our built environment toward true sustainability. We look forward to sharing this experience with many more members of our community in 2020. 

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