According to the World Economic Forum in 2018, four of the top five risks that will have the biggest impact in the next 10 years relate to water. The World Resources Institute asserts that we’re facing a global water crisis, and backs it up with seven key points. National Geographic agrees, and offers its own explanation.
As green building professionals, we may not always recognize our role in addressing these large and looming water challenges. As Dr. Michael Webber shares in his book, Thirst for Power, these crises tend to be about managing for water that’s in the wrong place at the wrong time (too much or too little), and for water that’s at the wrong temperature or quality. As we know, green buildings can help.
We also know that, to address environmental issues, we must "think global, act local." Of course, the greening of one building, district, neighborhood or town may not be very significant at a global level, but together, we can create a movement that has momentum and offers a compelling example for others.
Greenbuild 2018 will take place in Chicago, a city where we held two other Greenbuild conferences. Those events were very green, as the 2007 and 2010 sustainability reports demonstrate. This time around, the conference will also be blue, with the third and final WaterBuild program.
Our 2016 WaterBuild program in Los Angeles kicked off the series with a focus on water scarcity, while also touching on a wide array of topics at the water-and-buildings nexus. The 2017 program in Boston—a city with a long history of managing water abundance—focused on water resilience and, again, also covered a range of other topics. The 2018 program committee is hard at work on developing a program for Chicago in 2018 that will focus on water quality.
WaterBuild 2017 program recap
With nearly 200 attendees from 11 countries, WaterBuild 2017 convened an important conversation on water resilience. Across eight breakout sessions, including one charrette focused on leveraging the SITES framework to help guide more sustainable and resilient riparian development in Boston, attendees connected with one another, earned more than 650 continuing education credit hours, and helped advance our national conversation on sustainability, water, green buildings and resilient communities.
- WaterBuild Opening Session. Radhika Fox, of the U.S. Water Alliance, offered a keynote address about pressing water issues in the U.S. and discussed how buildings and building professionals play an important role. Her address was followed by a conversation with USGBC’s Brendan Owens and the audience.
- Design with Climate: A resilient neighborhood for Cambridge
- Collaborative Research, Tool-Making, and the Water Challenge
- Towards Net Zero Water in LEED: a Forum on Whole Project Water Use
- WaterBuild Luncheon. Greg Kats, of Capital E, shared a preview of new research on the many big-money benefits of “smart surfaces” that cities can harness (there is also a podcast on the topic). At the luncheon, the William J. Worthen Foundation also shared news about the new Water Reuse Practice Guide.
- Charrette: Resiliency, Equity, and Water Management at Chelsea Creek
- Water-Energy-Food Nexus, Powered by Pecha Kucha
- The New Paradigm for EcoDistrict On-Site Water Management
- Rising to Meet the 21st Century Clean Water Challenge, Powered by Pecha Kucha
- Innovative Water Management in Our Nation's Capital
- Combined Closing Plenary. WaterBuild participants joined with participants of the International Summit and the Communities and Affordable Homes Summit to hear from USGBC and GBCI President and CEO Mahesh Ramanujam and world-renowned architect and sustainable development thought-leader William McDonough for an inspiring close to an outstanding day.
A special thank you goes out to our hardworking WaterBuild program committee from 2017:
- Andy Bennett, Perkins+Will
- Doug Bennett, WSI
- Sandra Brock, Nitsch Engineering
- David Crawford, Rainwater Management Solutions
- Daniel Huard, Humann Building Solutions, LLC / Greenview Global, LLC
- Atiya Martin, City of Boston
- Jim Proctor, McWane, Inc.
- Gretchen Rabinkin, Boston Society of Architects
- Joanne Rodriguez,Tremco, Inc.
- Ashlynn Stillwell, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Duyen Tran, CH2M
- Rob Zimmerman, Kohler Co.