New Orleans has a special place in my heart. I have been there often as a volunteer for Historic Green to help with sustainable stormwater management as the city rebuilds from Hurricane Katrina. So, as you might imagine, I was thrilled to hear that this year’s Greenbuild was being held in the Crescent City. I just returned from the conference, and I can tell you I left more inspired than ever about the City Energy Project and the work we are doing here in Kansas City.
For a little background, Greenbuild is the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. It truly is an amazing event, with industry leaders from around the globe participating.
My favorite session was entitled ‘Leading Southern Cities Ramp Up on Building Efficiency’. It featured three City Energy Project cities, Orlando, Houston and Atlanta. The presenters, Jonathan Ippel from Orlando, Lisa Lin from Houston and Ruthie Norton from Atlanta did an excellent job and I was grateful to get the opportunity to learn some of the specific ways our peer cities are proceeding with their efforts.
Another great session was with officials from Washington DC to hear about their innovative partnership between the District of Columbia and the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU).
I enjoyed the Sustainable Energy Utility topic so much, I had to go to another session on the subject. Ted Trabue (Managing Director, DC Sustainable Energy Utility), Elizabeth Chant (Principal Consultant, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation) and Joe Andronaco (President, Access Green) expanded on the earlier conversation and how a SEU can tackle energy efficiency alongside social equity concerns.
Going to New Orleans was an amazing opportunity to get to hear about the challenges and opportunities all cities face when implementing energy efficiency programs. Cities truly are the leader on these initiatives. I am happy to report that Kansas City is well regarded in this area, and many participants let me know they’ve heard about some of the great things we are doing right here. We should be proud, but we shouldn’t rest on our laurels too much. As I heard firsthand, our peer cities are extremely focused with their efforts and we need to be innovative and bold to stay competitive.
The conference might be over, but the work back here in Kansas City is only beginning.