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‘New Living Standard’ Seeks to Connect Buildings, People

The U.S. Green Building Council’s annual exhibition and conference arrives in Atlanta this month with a greater emphasis on indoor air quality and international well-being.
Architectural, engineering and construction professionals looking for the latest in sustainable building products and ideas will converge on Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center Nov. 19-22 for Greenbuild 2019. However, the theme of this year’s show, “A New Living Standard,” encourages the notion that sustainability goes beyond the built environment, that the industry must turn its attention to the people within those buildings.
“Our focus must be on human beings because the standards we are most committed to raising is that of the quality of life itself — for every member of this community, and in populations spanning every corner of the planet,” notes Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council, in a January letter to the industry posted on the group’s website. “That’s why we launched the new Living Standard campaign at Greenbuild — to connect green buildings and LEED, and to connect our products to people![[{“fid”:”22583″,”view_mode”:”default”,”fields”:{“format”:”default”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:false,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:false},”link_text”:null,”type”:”media”,”field_deltas”:{“1”:{“format”:”default”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:false,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:false}},”attributes”:{“style”:”float: right; margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px;”,”class”:”media-element file-default”,”data-delta”:”1″}}]]
“In the future, we will continue to broaden our focus beyond buildings — to making green communities, cities and even entire nations recognize that sustainability is not limited to the places we live and work; it is also part of the way in which we lead our lives.”
Greenbuild attendees can learn more about the Living Standard campaign, which the USGBC began in January, at the Living Standard session in Nov. 21, moderated by Ramanujam. They will hear from sustainability advocates who will share stories about how the Living Standard is working in their communities.
The session is described as: “In the face of unprecedented climate-related risks, we explore how we can become more effective communicators and community partners, how we can find and share the meaning behind our measurements, and how we can leverage the shift in narrative to create both a better quality of life and higher living standard for all.”
Resilient Communities
Part of the Living Standard is the notion of resiliency, which continues to be a hot topic at Greenbuild. A highlight of the resiliency movement is the Nov. 19 Resiliency Summit, which begins with a keynote address by Dr. Bernice A. King, a global thought leader, orator, peace advocate and CEO of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.
This day-long summit includes sessions on green building design and cleaner air; a residential model to help end homelessness; the impacts of gentrification and climate change on communities; to identify adaptive challenges and apply resilience strategies to attendees’ life and work, and drive transformative change where they live; and a round-robin afternoon event with 40 discussions and activities.
The day’s events will conclude with an address by Jasmine Crowe, creator of Goodr, a tech-enabled sustainable food waste management company created to eliminate hunger and reduce food waste.
Health and Wellness
Keeping our communities healthy is part of the overall Living Standard movement. This standard also is embraced by the International WELL Building Institute, headed up by former USGBC CEO Rick Fedrizzi. It’s WELL Building Standard focuses exclusively on the “ways that buildings, and everything in them, can improve our comfort, drive better choices and generally enhance, not compromise, our health and wellness.” 
It integrates scientific and medical research with environmental health, behavioral factors and other influences on health with best practices in building design, construction, and management. Incorporating healthy building strategies has a significant effect on people’s health, as we spend more than 90 percent of our time indoors. Several Greenbuild sessions discuss this standard.
Greenbuild’s Global Health and Wellness Summit, also held Nov. 19, focuses on stakeholders in the green building industry — employers, building owners, designers, developers, manufacturers, employees and investors — who are committed to providing healthy buildings.
After Dr. King’s keynote, summit attendees can learn about the impact of green building on human health; the future of sustainable, healthy buildings; how green building practitioners, communities and cities can work together to promote public health and social equity; and case studies of next-gen buildings with significant demonstrated financial returns.
Other Noteworthy Events
Former President Barack Obama is the keynote speaker Nov. 20 for Greenbuild 2019. “President Obama is a global leader and a longtime friend of the green building community,” Ramanujam says. “While in office, his administration negotiated the landmark Paris Climate Accords, expanded the impact of our field and helped open the door for energy-efficiency investments in both the public and private sectors.”
On Nov. 22, Jaime Margolin — a 17-year-old Colombian-American writer, community organizer, activist, public speaker and founder/co-executive director of international youth climate justice movement Zero Hour — and Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd — an international expert in weather and climate and is the Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Georgia — will partner up to deliver the last keynote address.[[{“fid”:”22584″,”view_mode”:”default”,”fields”:{“format”:”default”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:false,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:false},”link_text”:null,”type”:”media”,”field_deltas”:{“2”:{“format”:”default”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:false,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:false}},”attributes”:{“style”:”float: right; margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px; height: 200px; width: 200px;”,”class”:”media-element file-default”,”data-delta”:”2″}}]]
The Women in Green Power Luncheon on Nov. 20 will discuss its 2019 platform theme, “The Culture of Courage,” which celebrates the crucially needed voice women bring to society and the green building movement.
On Nov. 21, the Center for Green Schools at USGBC and partners ATP and Legrand will host local high school teachers, students and administrators for insights into the green building industry at Greenbuild. More than 100 high school students studying pre-engineering, architecture, construction, carpentry, masonry, plumbing and electrical will attend the full “Future is Green” program. The free, half-day learning experience will increase students’ knowledge of sustainable development and connect them directly with green building professionals to discuss individual career paths.
On the expo floor, attendees can find pavilions on building performance, smart energy, health and wellness, and responsibly-sourced building materials. Educational events also can be found in the expo area, such as sponsored lunch-and-learns and education labs, and MATERIALIZE sessions focusing on product and materials transparency. A sustainable tiny house will be set up on the show floor for attendees to walk through.

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