Every year, more exhibitors claim booth space at the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) Greenbuild Conference & Expo, and more architects, builders, developers, planners, and real estate pros attend. This year's conference, held in Chicago Nov. 7-9, was no different. Registration lines were packed every day but Friday, and many seminar rooms were filled past seating capacity. The USGBC calculated the show's attendance at 22,835. It's a clear indication of sustainable building's increasing importance in both the commercial and residential markets.

According to the USGBC, nearly 8,000 people attended Wednesday's opening plenary keynoted by Bill Clinton, in which the former president announced partnerships aimed at improving the energy efficiency of millions of square feet of public and private buildings throughout the country. The Clinton Climate Initiative, launched in August 2006, will work with the City of Chicago, GE Real Estate, the USGBC, and the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment to retrofit buildings—including schools and universities—with green technologies to help mitigate climate change.

The USGBC had planned to officially launch its LEED for Homes certification program at the conference after nearly two years of pilot testing that ended last spring, but the organization has pushed back the launch until the end of November so that it can incorporate into the final rating system all of the member comments from the LEED for Homes balloting that took place during Greenbuild.

In case you missed them, here are some other USGBC and partner announcements made during the conference:

  • A National Green Building Research Agenda to show the breadth of research necessary in the industry to aid the transition to a sustainable built environment. The agenda, announced by the USGBC's Research Committee, will focus on the applied research most needed by green builders for the design, engineering, construction, and development of communities. The USGBC will spend $1 million in 2008 on green building research.

  • The city of Seattle, the USGBC, and 20 other city, state, federal, nonprofit, and utility partners have developed "The Green Playbook for Green Buildings and Neighborhoods." This web-based resource (www.greenplaybook.org) is designed to provide strategies, tips, and tools for cities and counties to use and refer to in their efforts to mitigate climate change through green building, green neighborhoods, and the development of sustainable infrastructure.

  • A $1 million donation from United Technologies Corp. allowed the USGBC to launch www.Greenbuild365.org, a website intended to provide global online access to green building education. The site will offer free and fee-based courses about green building technologies and innovations and practical training to help pros successfully apply LEED certification to building design, construction, and operation. Greenbuild365.org will begin fulfilling its purpose by providing access to videos of Greenbuild conference speakers, including Clinton's address, as well as attendee blogs, polling tools, and other information.

  • The USGBC and the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Nov. 7 at Greenbuild to provide an open exchange of information regarding green or sustainable building and maintenance practices during the entire facility lifecycle. The memorandum offers members of each organization the opportunity to collaborate in developing practices and procedures to achieve sustainability in construction, according to CSI executive director Walt Marlowe. The two organizations will collaborate using their continuing education networks and training programs to provide ways for building product manufacturers and designers to remain current on LEED requirements.

  • The USGBC relaunched its website, www.usgbc.org, with a cleaner and more user-friendly design that makes accessing LEED project credit templates easier and provides better access to online reference guides, more resources for members and chapters, and other resources. The launch of a new site geared toward educating consumers and providing tools and resources to homebuyers and homeowners interested in greening their homes was also announced: www.thegreenhomeguide.org, which also offers details on the LEED for Homes program.