Sustainable Design for the 21st Century

GREENBUILD 2013 – Philadelphia PA.

By Brent Sauser


The USGBC GreenBuild 2013 convention is something one needs to prepare for, whether attendee or exhibitor . . . just ask my feet!  Regardless of the venue or DSCN2766location, GreenBuild is more than a convention. It resembles more of a pilgrimage for green building and sustainable design enthusiasts.  Some 25,000 like-minded people converged on the Philadelphia Convention Center to feast upon the new and innovative products from the over 900 exhibitors, while braving very cold weather outdoors.


The cold weather was a challenge in contrast to last year’s GreenBuild DSCN2723convention in temperate San Francisco.  Coming north from Orlando our blood was a little too thin to be comfortable outdoors, but that only motivated us to spend more time on the exhibit floor.

The Philadelphia Convention Center is a vast venue covering over three city blocks and several levels.  People were easily dispersed between the dozens of classes offered, exhibit hall, and other scheduled events.  We never felt too crowded in the exhibit hall andDSCN2724 enjoyed the opportunity to talk with many of our friends already featured on our RESOURCES page on

Our personal observations of GreenBuild 2013 are:

  • USGBC always puts on a great convention and this year was no exception.
  • Attending GreenBuild provides the easiest way to stay current and DSCN2748connected with the newest advancements in sustainable design methods and products.
  • In general, few new (if any) ground breaking products were introduced this year.  Many exhibitors scaled back their exhibitor space from last year in San Francisco.
  • There seemed to be an emphasis on commercial products with littleDSCN2756 attention to residential.
  • Solar panel and thin-film products/systems were not featured at GreenBuild, which tells me they are relying on their own convention to promote their products.  Even so, I was surprise to not see solar systems on exhibit.
  • More water harvesting companies were exhibiting this year, which is a welcome site.  This is an area of sustainable design that needs more attention.DSCN2757
  • I was pleased to see many daylighting exhibitors promoting commercial and residential products.  In fact, we are planning on installing two 14” Solatubes in our home soon.
  • All the plumbing manufacturers were promoting their products that comply with WaterSource low-flow requirements.  Waterless urinals seem to be on the “outs” . . .DSCN2753 not too many featured as in previous years.
  • If I was to point to one thing on the exhibit floor that “wowed” me, I’d have to point to the two exhibits featuring a two-car electric recharging car port, with solar panels on the roof.  One exhibit featured a Tesla roadster and the other included the new BMW plug in.  The BMW recharging carport cost only $50,000.  Not bad!DSCN2733

All in all I felt like this year’s GreenBuild convention was a victim of the ongoing sluggish economy and less than optimistic outlook for 2014.  I applaud all the exhibitors who braved the cold weather and expense to stay connected with the sustainable design community.  It is very encouraging to be a part of something that is making such a significantDSCN2779 difference in our lives and communities.  Regardless of which way the economic “winds” are blowing, green building products will continue to improve and proliferate, until the decision to build Net Zero is no longer considered extreme, fringe, or out-of-the-norm.   The technology is HERE NOW to make Net Zero happen.  Let’s get going!


GreenBuild 2014 is in New Orleans, LA.  I better start preparing now!


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