What Greenbuild 2017 Signals for the Future of the Green Building Movement

The past year has been an emotional roller-coaster ride for the broader global movement for climate action. On the one hand, good news has come in the form of projections from Morgan Stanley that renewable energy has reached a tipping point and will soon be the world’s cheapest energy source. Additional positive signs included the International Energy Agency’s findings that global emissions have remained stable during the past three years of economic growth, and the U.K., France, India and China have all announced plans to ban the sale of internal-combustion engine vehicles between 2030 and 2040. On the flip side the U.S. has announced that it intends to withdraw from Paris Agreement in 2020. 

In the midst of all of these conflicting signals, the 15th Greenbuild Conference and Expo took place last month in Boston, where the broader sustainable design community attempted to grapple with the way forward. The green building industry receives a lot less attention from the media than developments like the launch of the Tesla Semi, but it is arguably one of the most impactful parts of the broader climate action movement today. Nevertheless, we know that cities are the future of the broader climate action movement, and cities are having the greatest impact today in helping to curb global emissions. We also know that architects and designers have the most capacity to re-think, re-create and revolutionize cities, which is where our work is most concentrated. 

Based on what I took from this year’s Greenbuild, the positive environmental impact created by the broader sustainable design community is poised to grow in the years to come. The themes this year were ALL IN and it’s all about the people—both of which are meant to reinforce the sense of commitment and optimism needed to confront climate change, and reaffirm that this global green movement is literally saving lives. Our momentum is unstoppable—this means every project, every day, starting with you and me.