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TRUE takeaways from Greenbuild 2023

Published on: 
3 Nov 2023
Susie Vincent
A group of people smiles at the camera.

Feature image: Attendees at at the TRUE breakfast. Image credit: Susie Vincent.

Twelve years ago, I boarded a plane to Toronto to attend my first Greenbuild event. Encouraged to attend by my local USGBC community in Charlotte, North Carolina, I was grateful to my company for the opportunity, but had no idea what to expect as a budding green building professional. In many ways, that first Greenbuild experience accelerated my career in ways I wouldn’t discover until years later.

In reflecting on this year’s Greenbuild in Washington, D.C., I’m once again grateful for the opportunity to not only attend, but to help host, as a USGBC team member and director of client solutions for TRUE. This was a big year, not only for green building—celebrating milestones like USGBC’s 30th anniversary—but also for zero waste.

Here are some of my takeaways from the 2023 event:

The next generation was there. The number of curious young professionals I saw to be craving technical content during education sessions gives me incredible hope. Beyond the technical, the Women in Green luncheon brought us inspirational leaders, some with a lifetime of experience, and others who have more recently raised their hands to join the movement. All the attendees around their tables were lifting one another up and supporting a new, incoming generation of leaders.

TRUE has arrived. Following 10 years of dedication, market development and enthusiastic implementation, TRUE had an expansive presence at Greenbuild, including

  • Featuring in four education sessions.
  • Hosting nearly 80 people at our sold-out networking breakfast.
  • Assisting many active project teams in the certification work zone.
  • Supporting our USGBC events team and the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on their journey to certify the sixth TRUE-certified Greenbuild Conference and Expo.
  • Gathering experienced TRUE practitioners for a listening session as we begin to scope out version 2 of the TRUE rating system.

A woman at a podium presents at a conference.

Vijaya Yellamraju, LEED AP BD+C, TRUE Advisor, presents on TRUE at Greenbuild. Image credit: Susie Vincent.

Community matters. The green building professionals gathered this year in the District provided one another with support, mentorship, accountability and friendly competition. With the growth of the TRUE program, TRUE Advisors from around the world got to meet in person throughout the conference. In the words of cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it's the only thing that ever has."

We're looking toward building circularity. What left me the most excited was the focus on decarbonizing our buildings and building materials. The White House national climate advisor, Ali Zaidi, shared the Biden-Harris administration’s focus on decarbonization with building materials manufacturers, including the intent to create a national definition for zero-emission buildings.

The USGBC headquarters office renovation project team shared their story of salvaging as they renovated. Now is the time to take leaps, rather than steps, in the direction of building product circularity. The materials and resources credits in the recently launched LEED v5 for Operations and Maintenance draft, the TRUE rating system and the TRUE construction pilot provide guidance for operators, designers and contractors to lead us to zero waste and circularity in our built environment.

A group of people smiles outside a building at night.

The TRUE team at Greenbuild. Image credit: Susie Vincent.

Working with TRUE Advisors and project teams every day, I am in awe of the tenacity of the TRUE community. From students to subject matter experts, construction teams to building managers, nonprofit offices to global manufacturers, it is clear that zero waste has arrived. Thank you for your passion in driving us toward a circular world. I can’t wait to see our progress next Greenbuild!

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