Now in its 5th year, VERGE seeks to accelerate sustainability solutions in an interconnected world, and do so at scale. Originally conceived by Joel Makower and the Greenbiz Group, VERGE bills itself as the convergence of energy, information, buildings and vehicle technologies – a perfect venue for GRESB members, partners and annual participants.
Leaders from Fortune 500s, early-stage start ups, and fast-growth gazelles descended upon Silicon Valley to experience four intense days of presentations and panels by established business executives, start-up entrepreneurs and international thought leaders along with tailored educational sessions stacked with expert speakers.
Monday started with the Smart Cities Summit where GRESB presented as part of a broader discussion of rating systems that USGBC and its affiliates (by way of GBCI) are deploying to drive sustainability throughout the built environment. Rating systems including LEED Dynamic Plaque, EDGE, WELL, SITES, and PEER are among the tools and technologies being utilized to achieve USGBC’s long-standing mission of green buildings and communities for everyone within this generation.
On Tuesday, VERGE began to hit stride. The hard-hitting sessions were headlined by “The Business Opportunity Hiding in Plain Site”, a conversation with Tom Steyer, billionaire founder of NextGenClimate alongside CNN political contributor and green jobs advocate Van Jones as moderated by GreenBiz founder Joel Makower. Both Steyer and Jones emphasized the need for bi-partisan solutions to pressing environmental and social issues with Steyer reiterating a concerted push for 50% clean energy production by 2030.
Preceding this discussion, Cady Coleman and Jason Crusan of NASA discussed the planning and execution required to spend six months in space at the International Space Station, and how sustainability and resiliency technologies developed for space travel provide solutions for businesses and individuals here on planet Earth. Outside the convention hotel the VERGE renewable energy Microgrid was humming along, generating enough kwh to power the lights, cameras and other equipment used to produce the event and deliver it to an audience from around the world participating both in-person and virtually via the internet.
Leading renewable energy providers Sunpower and SunEdison were on hand to showcase advances in solar technology at the VERGE Interconnect Expo. In particular, Sunpower is delivering incremental breakthroughs through its Helix technology – the plug-and-play components significantly reduce installation costs while simultaneously increasing system reliability over a 25+ year installation life.
VERGE provided opportunities to engage with old friends - a chance meeting re-connected me with Heather Gadonniex of thinkstep who I hadn’t seen since she served as ‘moderator extraordinaire’ of a spring 2015 panel in San Francisco focused on CSR reporting frameworks including GRESB – check out the video when you can.
Next up is Greenbuild 2015 in Washington, DC where over 25,000 friends and colleagues will gather to learn the latest in high performance green building, engage with manufacturers of cutting edge building products, and develop new business opportunities as we collectively push the industry forward.
We look forward to seeing many of you walking the Greenbuild Expo Hall as we bring to a close a year of progress and achievement by the real estate industry. Greenbuild presents a host of opportunities for accelerating the solid results described in the recently released GRESB 2015 Report that highlights the real estate industry’s year-over-year reductions in energy (-2.87%) and water (-1.65%) consumption along with gains in onsite renewable energy installations.
More work is before us, and the GRESB team is preparing for a strong 2016. Looking forward to participating alongside you on the road ahead.