We recently attended the 2012 Sustainabuild conference in Vancouver, at the Hyatt Regency, and had the privilege of listening to some fascinating presentations about the growth and innovation of the sustainable building industry in Vancouver and around the world.

The first presentation of the day provided an insightful look at the shift in the design and construction industry from traditional, competitive building strategies  to digital, collaborative enterprise seeking  to be the best for the world, rather than being the "biggest and best." The re-examinations of preconceptions about our sustainable future and our role as specialists in it was provided by keynote speaker Teresa Coady, Architect AIBC, FRAIC, AIA, LEED AP, BD+C, Former President & Founding Partner, B+H BuntingCoady, Advisory Board Member of UNEP SCBI.


Recognized as an innovator in sustainable and energy-efficient design, Teresa was responsible for pioneering the Integrated Design Process (IDP), which successfully involves the client in all aspects of design and construction. Her vision, to create 'Living Breathing Buildings'™, is behind the firm's development of such landmark projects as the award-winning UBC Life Sciences Centre.

Teresa has worked to develop the City of Vancouver Action Plan and City Building Standards and is the only architect to serve on the British Columbia Provincial Government's Climate Action Team (CAT).

To read Teresa's full bio, and view her presentation visit the Sustainabuild website.  

Other highlights of the day included:

The topic of regenerative design was discussed by speaker Martin Nielsen, Architect AIBC, MRAIC, P.Eng., LEED® AP, Principal, DIALOG. Nielsen illuminated this approach to the field of sustainable development that seeks to repair the damage from past practices and accelerate our response to the crisis of climate change. Nielsen presented a case study on the current Sears Crosstown Development Project in Memphis, TN. This 600,000 square foot, former catalog plant and retail store is being redeveloped as a mixed-used vertical urban village that will integrate residential, commercial, retail and health spaces.


Martin's recent project work also includes leading the design and construction of UBC's Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS); targeting LEED Platinum and Living Building certification, the facility is considered one of the greenest institutional projects in North America.

Vancouver's EcoDensity Initiative was discussed on behalf of Ryan Bragg, Architect AIBC, MRAIC, LEED AP BD+C, Associate Principal, Perkins+Will Canada. This initiative began in 2008 with the City of Vancouver's Director of Planning requesting an assessment of the proposed EcoDensity Charter. As part of the firm's commitment to advancing industry knowledge, Perkins+Will began a comprehensive evaluation of EcoDensity, which examines ways that Vancouver could accommodate its projected growth, maintain its reputation for livability, and encourage affordability. This evaluation examined sustainable urban planning that uses transit systems as a catalyst for nodal development and presents solutions for reducing a city's per capita greenhouse gas emissions.

Visit the Sustainabuild website to download Martin's full presentation.

Ken Flannigan, LEED AP, Solutions Consultant, IMAGINiT spoke about how to best use data to promote and improve sustainability in buildings by embeding sustainability information into a Building Information Model, so as to evaluate and optimize design, and generate reports of the data that is stored within the model.

The building science of building envelope performance was analyzed by Murray Frank, Constructive Home Solutions Inc, who provided "how to" solutions for energy efficient design and construction. Murray Frank is recognized as a premier building envelope specialist in British Columbia and has been instrumental in enhancing the understanding of moisture problems relating to single family and multi-unit residential buildings. He performs building envelope design and assessments, and has integrated many new technologies into recent client projects.


The day ended with a panel discussion focusing on the aim of the City of Vancouver for all new buildings to be carbon-neutral by 2020. This panel discussion brought together views from developers, low carbon building experts, researchers, cost consultants and the City to discuss the regulatory, technical and financial implications.

Panel presentations can be downloaded on the Sustainabuild website.