C40 Voices: Dispatch from the 2012 Greenbuild Expo; Zach Tofias, Director C40 Sustainable Communities Initiative

This week finds the C40 Sustainable Communities Initiative team in San Francisco at the US Green Building Council’s Greenbuild Expo. This annual event is regularly described as the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. With more than 30,000 attendees, it certainly feels that way. The risks and impacts of climate change are top-of-mind in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation, and it has been very empowering and invigorating to be surrounded by so many motivated and like-minded individuals committed to developing a sustainable future for our built environment.

Bringing together leading experts from across the world who offer insights on a wide range of subjects encompassing green building, the four-day conference also includes an expo hall filled with leading producers of sustainable (and just plain neat!) building technologies and products.

This year C40 has been incredibly lucky to support two sessions during Greenbuild. Yesterday, I hosted a moderated discussion on the importance of district scale development with two leading examples from the C40 Cities network. Krista Milne, Manager, Sustainability, from the City of Melbourne, Australia, and Rob Bennett, Executive Director of the Portland Sustainability Institute who discussed their experiences with district scale development, and fielded a number of questions from an engaged audience about how they can take the research from C40, along with the practical experiences from Melbourne and Portland, and apply it to their own large-scale urban developments.

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Rob Bennett, Krista Milne, and Zach Tofias on a panel discussion of district-scale development.

In between myriad meetings with collaborators from cities and private sector firms and a keynote address by USGBC CEO Rick Fedrizzi, we were also fortunate to have had an intimate event hosted by the Mayor of San Francisco for C40, where representatives from nine C40 cities and five Climate Positive Development Projects were able to share experiences, and reflect on the conference objectives.

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San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee (center) with C40's Johanna Partin, Jared Pruzan, Rit Aggarwala and Zach Tofias (left to right).

We are very much looking forward to tomorrow’s presentation by C40’s own Rohit Aggarwala, where he will be moderating a Master’s Series session on the role of cities in driving global sustainability. Longtime partners C40 and the World and US Green Building Councils have a strong history of taking action in this arena…and we hope you’ll stay tuned for more news on our collaboration—check back with us here tomorrow!