The climate in Chicago was typical for November, between -10 ° and +5 ° Celcius and partly snowing. Other regions of the world, however, are currently facing unusual climate conditions and weather extremes.

While in Europe and Germany the drought phase from the summer is still ongoing, major forest fires are threatening the citizens of the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas. These fires are just the latest example of more regularly occurring weather extremes across North America and were somewhat overshadowing the atmosphere at this year’s Greenbuild. Even though it is still not quantifiable how much the human race has contributed to these developments, it is unquestionable that our impact on our planet and its environment keeps on growing.

All participants at this year’s Greenbuild had one thing in common: they had all realized there is no time left to just discuss further. The building industry has to start acting with full force in order to deliver its necessary contribution to achieve global climate goals. Mahesh Ramanujam therefore quoted Daniel Burnham, one of the major architects in Chicago’s history, with his words: “Make no little plans”.

This blog briefly summarizes this year’s Greenbuild based on the topics repeatedly occurring on the exhibition floor, in the sessions and workshops, and in lively discussions with peers.


The most powerful message concerning USGBC was the announcement of the partnership with BRE. The two institutions will join forces on multiple issues such as the building stock, data management and research. For full coverage, follow this link to the official press release.

Besides announcing the partnership with BRE, USGBC introduced NetZero certification and a possibility to re-certify existing LEED BD+C certifications.

2. NetZero

The term NetZero had a high presence in the conference program and among participants. While for existing buildings and portfolios the discussion was striving around developing concepts of combining energy efficiency measures, off-site renewable energy purchases (e.g. PowerPurchaseAgreements) and data management, for new construction the whole life-cycle of the buildings and aspects of circular economy were discussed.

Which role does material embodied carbon play when it comes to NetZero? How can a building be designed and built so that ongoing performance can be achieved by the occupants? Is NetZero just about Energy and Carbon, or do water and waste also have roles to play?

3. Resilience

The term resilience is becoming more and more popular in and around the building industry. Throughout Greenbuild, the implications of resilience were unfortunately very present due to the ongoing fires in California. Unusual flooding, the impacts of the changing outdoor climate on building design, or sudden high wind velocities were also part of the discussion.

But how can resilience be evaluated properly? We at EnviroSustain expect a lot of movement in this area over the coming months and years. The building industry has just started to integrate this topic into its business processes.

4. Health & Wellbeing

Not just due to the recent release of version two of the WELL Building Standard, health and wellbeing played another major role around the conference.

The way LEED currently addresses this topic was a heavy point of discussion along with the question how far does LEED actually need to go when it comes to health and wellbeing? Also in combination with resilience, health and wellbeing will gain more attention in the future. How can air quality levels be maintained in areas of rising forest fire risk, and how does the occupant actually get to know that his/her indoor air quality levels are going down?

Greenbuild Europe 2019 – An Announcement

The next Greenbuild Europe will take place in Amsterdam 19-20th March 2019.

EnviroSustain is delighted to announce that we will be back as sponsor after having already contributed to a successful event in Berlin in spring 2018.

If you would like to join the discussion on any of the topics above and are ready to act, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We would be delighted to hear from you.

In the meantime, we will continue our journey towards Healthy, sustainable space. For everyone.