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Conference Update: Living Future, Federal Summit, and Greening the Heartland

This past month has been filled with fantastic sustainability conferences. To start off, PlanetReuse traveled to Seattle, Washington to attend the Cascadia Region Green Building Council Living Future Conference. Keynote speakers included Jason F. McLennan and Dr. John Francis, PhD. CEO of Cascadia GBC, McLennan annnounced during his presentation an interesting challenge to sustainability called the Living City Design Competition. To the most inspiring, informative entries, $125,000 in cash prizes awaits. Dr. Francis then shared with the audience many experiences which helped inspire his book Planetwalker. Dr. Francis helped with the 1971 oil spill in the San Francisco Bay scrubbing petroleum-covered beaches and creatures. Afterwards, he began a pact of no longer using any form of transportation that required petroleum and began traveling the country on-foot which later initiated a vow of silence. A fascinating presentation from an exceptionally interesting person. Many Living Building Challenge projects were reviewed and discussed in a very collaborative format throughout the conference. The Tyson Living Learning Future Project in St. Louis, MO, striving to be one of the first Living Building Challenge-certified projects, shared their successes as well as their struggles in a panel discussion with project Architect Dan Hellmuth with Hellmuth + Bicknese, Neil Myers with Williams Creek Consulting and Nathan Benjamin with PlanetReuse.

Next up was the USGBC Federal Summit which was held in Washington D.C. Among many others, speaking at the conference was the U.S. General Services Administration's Martha N. Johnson who announced the zero environmental footprint target for the U.S. GSA in her presentation. Nathan also got the opportunity to moderate a great panel in a session titled "Building Material Reuse - Successful Models and Future Tools" with Darin Headrick of Greensburg School, Liz Ogbu of Public Architecture, and Ted Huang with Webor Builders. To view their entire Federal Summit presentation, click here. It was great to see the excitement in the over 750 attendees from offices in DC and around the country that can really make change in Federal sustainable policies and procedures.

Then there was Greening the Heartland which took place in Minneapolis, MN. Perfect weather coupled with a great line-up of speakers and activities, this was a great conference. While there, Nathan spread the word about reclaimed materials reuse in his session "Reclaimed Material Reuse: Bridging the Gap Between Want and Need", met many great forward-thinking sustainable firms and companies, and heard a great presentation by keynote speaker Cameron Sinclair of Architecture for Humanity.

During the month of May, there was no shortage of beneficial sustainability conferences occurring around the nation. Despite the recession and budget cuts, it is great to see that sustainability is pushing forward with interest, support, and valuable conversation from coast to coast.