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Greenbuild 2009 Blazes a Trail to the Southwest

More than 20,000 building and sustainability professionals are heading to Arizona where the U.S. Green Building Council’s annual Greenbuild convention, the world’s largest green building conference and expo, opens next week at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Seeking to top its record attendance of 28,224 registered convention-goers and 807 exhibitors at Greenbuild 2008 in Boston, the USGBC is rolling out a number of new twists for the conference this year, which runs November 11 through 13 with curtain-raisers, such as the grand opening of the tradeshow, on November 10.
The new elements include:

An evening celebration featuring keynote speaker Al Gore and nine-time Grammy award-winner Sheryl Crow on November 11, the first full day of the conference, at Chase Field, the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team. It will be the first time the organization has combined its opening key note with Day 1 festivities and staged the event off site at night.

A job fair that runs from 1 to 5 p.m. at the convention center on November 10, just before the expo opens at 5:30 p.m. Opportunity seekers will have a chance to network and share their resumes with destination companies.

Online pre-registration for all educational sessions (i.e. the panels and presentations throughout the conference). Anticipating high demand, the USGBC is strongly urging conference-goers to signal their preferences -- with alternatives -- for these events. Previously, pre-registeration was required only for activities and events that occurred outside the education session hours or off site.

Greenbuild Salons, which the USGBC describes as its version of “Inside the Actors’ Studio.” These three-hour afternoon conversations on November 11 and 12 will focus on the intersection of art, technology and sustainability.

A carbon neutral event as a result of donated carbon credits and renewable energy certificates, one of several efforts aimed at offsetting the conference's environmental footprint.

The largest amount of exhibit space yet for the annual gathering. The main venue is among the 20 largest in the country and more than 1,800 exhibitors are expected.

In honor of the conference, the USGBC’s eighth annual convention, Arizona Gov. Janice K. Brewer has declared November 9 to 13 Greenbuild week.

A high bar has been set for Greenbuild 2009, and not just in numbers.

{related_content}Held soon after the election that brought Barack Obama to office, the prevailing mood at Greenbuild 2008 was one of jubilation. As green jobs advocate Van Jones was fond of saying, “It’s not that we have the first black president, it’s that we have our first green president.”

Brandi McManus, the solutions vice president for energy at Schneider Electric Buildings Business, recalled high points of the conference.

“Attending last year's Greenbuild was a memorable event,” McManus wrote in emailed comments to “The large opening session room was filled with people that share a passion to change the world. Archbishop Desmond Tutu's keynote address was both inspirational and encouraging about how green buildings can impact our planet positively. I hope that this year's opening session is equally as motivational.”

Though the 2008 conference is a tough act to follow, McManus said she sees strong potential for success at this year’s gathering.

“I believe that increasing legislation and rising energy costs continue to drive events such as Greenbuild,” wrote McManus, whose guest columns have appeared on and its sister sites. “This year is particularly critical in both aspects. My expectation for attendance at Greenbuild is quite high.”

Schneider Electric’s confidence in a strong turnout is shown in the size of the company’s “away team” attending the event this year. Last year, there were 28 at the conference, the expo and other sessions. This year 36 will be on deck, she said.



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