Rocky Mountain Green Conference Sponsored by Everblue

Last Updated:
Thu, 2014-07-31 17:23

Everblue was a sponsor of the Colorado Chapter of the US Green Building Council’s annual Rocky Mountain Green Conference. The conference, held from April 12-13 in Denver, Colorado, included great speakers, LEED building tours, and some after-hours networking opportunities. As a Colorado resident and a Curriculum Development Specialist for Everblue, I thought it was a perfect place to learn more about what’s happening in green development around my home state.

Bill Reed, President of Integrated Design Collaborative, kicked off the event as the keynote speaker and encouraged attendees to think beyond LEED and the building scale to take a more ecological approach to the work of designing and changing the built environment. He urged participants to look past the typical project boundaries and instead investigate an entire watershed as the project boundaries. It was a great way to start the day, reminding the audience that our job is to create change, not just count LEED points.

Other great speakers and topics filled the two days including Shanti Pless talking about the largest Net-zero energy building in the country that was designed and constructed at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. Some of Mr. Pless’ lessons learned were to turn things off at night, to buy efficient equipment and to use simple technology to eliminate moving parts, maintenance needs and breakage potential. Michelle Reott, a LEED Consultant with Earthy Ideas, discussed her experience with getting occupants engaged in the green building process and education. Kate Gregory and Sylvia Benzile from the Environmental Protection Agency told the audience that there are over one million homes built to the Energy Star standards, which is why the program is moving up the bar for performance in the new version of the program. I participated in a LEED for Neighborhood Development (ND) exercise led by a team of planners from the City of Golden and independent firms. The exercise emphasized the challenges of trying to fit existing land uses into a rating system like LEED and some of the small details like curb cuts and windows that would be required to earn points.

Excited to see some of the LEED projects in Denver, I joined a group that headed across the street from the conference hotel to a LEED certified multi-family residential project. The Spire project appears to be luxury living in the city, but the developer cited it as “affordable” relative to other projects and sees it as a model for future green residential projects. The project has lots of amenity space, water efficient fixtures and landscaping, ample access to transit, car share programs and community services as well as some spectacular views. Interestingly, and no longer allowable under the current version of LEED, the project didn’t earn any points under the Optimize Energy Credit.

The conference location at the LEED Certified Embassy Suites in Downtown Denver was superb. It offered us, the attendees, the opportunity to meet with our peers, learn about current and emerging issues in our field while enjoying excellent indoor air quality and prime access to restaurants, light rail, and even an urban community garden across the street. I’m already looking forward to next year!

By Peter J. Bock

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