Resilience Summit and Greenbuild International Conference and Expo Recap

This year’s Resilience and Global Health and Wellness Summits and Greenbuild International Conference and Expo were held in Atlanta, GA, from Nov. 18-22 at the Georgia World Congress Center. The events featured daily keynote addresses and speaker spotlights by Barack Obama, Dr. Bernice King, Jamie Margolin, and many others. More than 200 educational sessions were available to assist with LEED®, SITES®, and WELL® professional credential maintenance requirements.

This year’s Greenbuild host city, Atlanta, GA, completed their Better Buildings Challenge goals, resulting in cumulative public health, economic, and water and energy efficiency benefits throughout the region.  Atlanta also achieved LEED for Cities Certification, marking the 100th certified city. The LEED for Cities rating system tracks progress across key performance indicators, including energy, waste, water, transportation, resilience, health, and social equity.  Atlanta was also selected to participate in the 100 Resilient Cities network, and as such has adopted the vision for a 100% Clean Energy Future by 2035.

Many speakers at the conference echoed the idea that access to inclusive, affordable, equitable, safe, and resilient buildings for all people, including vulnerable groups, is key to the success of the sustainability movement.

To paraphrase Evan Reis, U.S. Resiliency Council Executive Director, green buildings are currently built to have a low impact on the environment but not for the environment to have a low impact on them; as such, they are not very sustainable. Approximately 40% of businesses that close as a result of a natural disaster do not reopen. For new buildings, the ability to shelter in place while minimal repairs are ongoing can be achieved with a 0-3% cost increase for resilience, and there may also be potential lending, insurance, and permitting incentives.

Kim Limbaugh, Director of Sustainability at SGA Design Group, says “Resilience depends on both the built environment and the community. A building’s ability to recover from disruption is directly related to the strength of its local community. Key to this discussion are ‘resilience hubs’ within communities, managed locally, which serve to support and connect communities year round. These enhanced community centers not only provide gathering places for group activities and community connectivity, but can also serve as a staging area for the coordination of communications, resource distribution and services, before, during, and after a natural disaster.”

Several tools to use for quantifying and tracking resilient design were shared at the conference.

  • AIA’s Resilience and Adaptation Initiative
    • AIA Resilience Group has software for calculating ROI
    • AIA Resilience and Adaptation Online Certificate Program
    • COTE Top Ten Toolkit for Resilient Design and Design for Change Program
  • The US Resiliency Council (USRC) supports resilience based design by designing rating systems that evaluate the ability of buildings to withstand natural disasters.
  • The RELi Rating System consists of credits focused on disaster preparedness and adaptation.
    • Offers RELi Resilience Accredited Professional Training
  • Alliance of Regional Collaborative for Climate Adaptation (ARCCA)
    • Provides workshops, preparedness toolkits, emergency checklists, best practices, reports, and joint campaigns to advance the building of resilient and sustainable communities.