‘Leadership Jazz’ at Greenbuild 2014

With more than 30 LEED accredited professionals on staff, there’s always at least one Weber Thompson attendee at Greenbuild, the USGBC annual international conference and expo. This year in New Orleans, Myer Harrell represented the team and gathered as much of-the-moment information about green building as he was able. Here are a few of his thoughts.

This year’s theme at Greenbuild was ‘Leadership Jazz,’ which was woven throughout the many seminars, lectures, and activities held throughout the week. Special Set sessions have gained momentum as a format – forty sessions were offered with enhanced room layouts, audio/visual support, and technology to further engage the audience, as well as additional guidance from volunteers and staff leading up to the event. Additionally, discussions of social equity permeated many conversations. For example, pilot credits in LEED were announced in a session titled “Getting Credit for Doing Good.”

As with most Greenbuild conferences, the week was bookended with fantastic speakers at the opening and closing ceremonies, including New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s brief but powerful opener held at the Superdome, and David Brooks’ (of the New York Times) closing plenary.

Mayor Landrieu spoke of New Orleans as the “canary in the coal mine,” foreshadowing the future of other coastal cities by citing recent hurricane damage and the potential for more natural disaster in the future if climate change remains on its current trajectory.

David Brooks offered an inspirational message for attendees to return home and focus less on ‘resume virtues’ and more on ‘eulogy virtues.’ He suggested that the latter can be developed through learning the value of self-defeat, serving a movement or a cause, and developing the capacity for deep love.

For me, the conference was also a chance to reconnect with colleagues and friends in the green building movement, and fulfill my work as a volunteer on the Greenbuild Program Working Group by stepping back to look at the quality of educational content as a whole. It was also a chance to reevaluate my commitment to sustainability and mindfulness in the practice. As architects and LEED accredited professionals, we have an obligation to keep best interests in mind for the earth, ourselves, and each other when shaping the built environment around us. It’s a powerful notion easily forgotten in the day-to-day grind.

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