Day 1 highlights: Why the future of VERGE is in the cards

The day also included a healthy and vigorous exchange about the efficacy of the LEED rating system.

At an afternoon breakout session, IBM's Dave Bartlett challenged the impact of LEED certification, and green building movement leader Rob Watson responded in kind.

"It's not LEED's fault; it's the fault of the design team," Watson said. "Don't get me started on the sorry state of modelling."

There's a palpable sense that something different is taking place here -- that this is not your grandfather's sustainability conference (if only Grandpa had been so enlightened).

The conversation has changed. You don't hear companies here talking about reputation, or doing the right thing, or "being responsible." There are few utterances of eco-efficiency or closing the loop. The conversation is now about platforms, systems and flows. It's about risk and resiliency. It's about smart, predictive systems. It's even about the human face of Big Data, as  presenter Kathrin Winkler made clear.

Next page: Monday's highlight