Bill and Chris S. at Greenbuild — Recap


Bill and Chris S. at Greenbuild — Recap

The Terrapin team spent a week in Washington, DC at this year’s Greenbuild. The annual USGBC conference brings together thousands of passionate sustainability professionals and opportunities to hear about innovative new projects and ideas. Terrapin was thrilled to have two team members, Bill and Chris S., presenting this year.

One of the highlights from the opening session was a conversation with filmmaker James Cameron. He shared his passion for the ocean, and how he feels that exploring the deep sea gives him a view into nature’s imagination, saying nature is so much more vivid and creative than we could ever dream of. He also talked about using entertainment as a way to engage the public in the conversation about climate change and sustainability, citing his film Avatar.

Chris S. spoke on a panel, Resilient Brownsville: A Plan for Public Housing in Brooklyn, on the first day of the conference alongside Nadine Maleh of Community Solutions and Esther Sandorf of Forsyth Street Advisors. Their panel discussed the results of a resilience-focused retrofit strategy for a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) superblock site, Tilden houses. The panelists also provided a brief history of public housing and specifically Tilden that highlighted the challenges facing the site. The study estimates that the strategy improves energy efficiency by 45%, dramatically improves IEQ for residents, increases the number of units up to 60% and increases tenant density by simply right-sizing units, creates local jobs in the near and long-term, and improves stormwater management in a NYC priority watershed. More than just retrofitting the buildings to be more efficient, the panel explained that the strategy also aimed to foster stronger community ties. As the panelists put it, “[We found that] your community is your building…and neighborhoods with strong community ties are more resilient.”

On Thursday, Bill spoke to a sold out session at Biophilic Design in Context: Applications for Culture & Climate. Bill was joined by Elysa Hammond of Clif Bar & Company and Nicole Isle of Glumac Engineering. The panel focused on how biophilia can be applied across a diverse set of cultures, climates, and projects. They presented a number of case studies, including Glumac Engineering’s new engineering office in Shanghai and Clif Bar & Company’s evolution of thinking on biophilia from a renovated headquarters in coastal California to a new industrial bakery in Idaho. Attendees left the session with tangible examples of what successful biophilic design can look like, and how to use biophilic design as a mindset applicable to any project, regardless of scale and location.

Bill’s panel was part of the ILLUMINATE track, curated by International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), and sponsored by Interface. Featuring floor to ceiling windows and a green wall, attendees had the opportunity to connect with nature and feel the benefits of biophilia firsthand during the panel. The set had everyone thinking twice about leaving for their next session!

We left the conference energized by the work that is being done, and excited to see what 2016 will bring. We’re already looking forward to LA!

Rebecca is the Director of Operations at Terrapin and has a background in natural resource policy and management. She is interested in how policy helps shape our relationship to nature, and how we can work with and learn from natural systems to address human needs.