by Donta Busch

I had the honor of receiving USGBC’s South Central Greenbuild Scholarship. The scholarship covered my travel to Boston, our accommodations at a 4-star hotel, and complete registration with access to both the expo hall and the educational sessions. I was truly honored to be a recipient of this scholarship.

As USGBC states on their website “Greenbuild is the world's largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. The ideals and passion of the green building community come alive at Greenbuild.”  This year Greenbuild had over 24,000 attendees and 703 exhibiting companies covering over 169,000 square feet of the Boston Convention Center. While I attended 18 different educational sessions over a four day period, the conference offered 300 different learning experiences for its attendees.

To say this could all be a little overwhelming for a first timer is an overstatement! I’ll try to outline 4 steps to ensure your first Greenbuild experience was as amazing as mine!

1. Apply for a Greenbuild Scholarship 2018!

The USGBC’s scholarship offers a fantastic opportunity for anyone from an experienced LEED professional to an undergrad who is interested in green buildings and sustainability. The 2017 cohort had 70 plus recipients from all around the world. Recipients came from the Bahamas, China, Egypt, the Carolinas, Texas, California, Mexico and of course Nashville! Plus many more. The scholarship allows you to fully immerse yourself in the USGBC culture and experience all of what Greenbuild has to offer.

2. Register for as many educational session as possible.

We all are tempted to travel to a new city for a week-long conference and treat it as a vacation.  Participating in only the expo hall or the fun stuff such as Neil Tysons talk or Bill Clinton's closing speech. However, the real value of Greenbuild comes from learning from others. In the sessions I attended speakers presented on topics covering:

  • Resilience in cities infrastructure,
  • Affordable Green Housing Development,
  • How “Green Streets” can help mitigate the effects of floods,
  • The Investors Confidence Project for retrofitting existing buildings,
  • Building a Sustainable Square Mile,
  • The Making of the Greenest School,
  • Material Transparency,
  • The financial advantages of green building and sustainability.

Plus 292 more sessions on topics, practices, and principles all related to green building and sustainability. By engaging in as many topics as possible, you will be slightly overwhelmed, but you will also broaden your understanding of what sustainability means across a full spectrum. At the end of my week, my Evernote app was filled with terms I never heard of, organizations I wanted to research, names of leaders in green building whom I can connect with and information I can utilize on my capstone project. For me, the educational sessions connected what I learned in the ISP program to what is happening in the real world.

3. Pre-Network.

The networking opportunities at Greenbuild are amazing. One can talk with people from all industries related to green building,  people in all levels of management (Great picture below of himself, two other scholarship recipients and the CEOs of USGBC and GBCI), and people like yourself who are just starting out. However, pre-networking before the conference allowed me to get the pleasantries out the way and begin to start a relationship while discussing ideas you both find interesting I conducted the majority of my pre-networking on LinkedIn. I searched credentials and titles that I was interested in which lead me to people who may or may not attend greenbuild. After a couple of direct messages, we were set to meet when we made it to Boston. Doing this also allows you to learn about casual meetups and parties that may not be advertised to the general attendees.   

4. Use the hashtag #Greenbuild18 to find locally sponsored events.

This is kinda similar to pre-networking but allows you to leverage social media to further your Greenbuild social experience. Both local and non-local organizations host events in the city where the conference is held. Often these organizations host events to bring attendees together for a more intimate networking and display projects. I had the opportunity to attend the USGBC Massachusetts chapter welcome event, which was hosted by  Elkus Manfredi Architects, Siemens, Reebok, Jamestown, the Steel Recycling Institute, Armstrong, Sam Adams, and YouthBuild Boston! As you could imagine this event had a wide range of attendees.

Hopefully, these 4 steps will make your Greenbuild experience productive, fun, and inspirational!

Here are a few pictures from my experience at GreenBuild:

Central Park is an 80-foot long pavilion designed as sculptural forest providing a comfortable (and cool) interior landscape at ABX 2017Greenbuild in Boston.

100 Resilient Cities presentation, Nashville is part of the 100!

President Bill Clinton is speaking to the crowd.

The great Neil Tyson closing talk.

   The 2017 USGBC Greenbuild scholarship recipients.

The 2017 USGBC Greenbuild scholarship recipients.

Myself, Sam Snodgrass, Cliff Watkins II,  and Mila Santana

The SmartFlower, rotating solar panels.

 Scholarship recipients and USGBC CEO Mahesh Ramanujam and GBCI new President.

The mayor of Boston unplugging the conference as it was run entirely on renewable energy.

One half of the expo hall

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