Greenbuild 2018 Connects Buildings, People

CHICAGO—Buildings and their systems were not the focus of a building industry conference and trade show. Building occupants were.

This year’s Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, presented by the U.S. Green Building Council, centered on the theme “Human X Nature,” representing how the green building movement helps people by making sustainable buildings and environments available to all while benefiting the natural environment. The conference was held Nov. 12-16 in McCormick Place in Chicago.

Education sessions and topics focused on how buildings affect people through factors such as indoor environmental quality and daylighting.

Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of USGBC, said, during his opening plenary speech, buildings are only one part of the green building movement. Another part is how those buildings affect people’s health, well-being and quality of life.

To offset environmental challenges, USGBC has launched a net zero certification and is pushing for LEED positive buildings and technologies that improve quality of life, Ramanujam said. He also announced USGBC’s new initiative, Living Standard, which seeks to collect and share stories of people having a measurable impact on others’ quality of life.

People, Products and Buildings

The focus on building occupants seeped into the McCormick Place West exhibition hall, where hundreds of companies showcased their sustainable products.

Different products for various applications call for varied user experiences, said Craig Henricksen, vice president of marketing for Kinestral Technologies, Inc., who was representing Halio smart-tinting glass.

He said the commercial sector tends to filter out the personal aspect of products, but “I think that’s starting to change.” People are trusting more studies that show people are happier and more productive when they occupy better buildings, he said.

As Halio is entering the residential market, the company’s focus is on the residential sector and how occupants interact with the product. Henricksen said people have a more personal relationship with their homes, including multi-family units, than their workplaces, which increases the importance of having technologies and products easy for the occupants to use and aesthetically pleasing.

Another exhibitor, Legrand, focused on how occupants communicate with their products and how their products communicate with each other. From defining the key performance attributes to integrative design of electrical and digital infrastructure, Legrand’s education lab addressed topics related to “The Critical Role of Electrical and Digital Infrastructure in High Performance Buildings.”

Shana Longo, a training program manager at Legrand North America, said Legrand has been working on the topic since 2012. Because the building industry is complex, Legrand was trying to frame the industry’s innovation to the marketplace. Performance was the common thread among Legrand’s products and systems and how they spoke to each to support comprehensive high performing buildings that are speaking the same language, she said.


Looking Ahead

On the Show floor, several exhibitors teased visitors with snippets of what is coming at the 2019 AHR Expo in January.

Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US LLC is expected to debut a next-gen City-Multi unit at the AHR Expo, said Katie Sikorski, representing the company. The new unit has a 30% smaller footprint and is up to 28% more efficient depending on the model.

“It’s a smaller, better model,” she said.

A few aisles away, Armstrong Fluid Technology teased an announcement at AHR Expo that is “going to shock the industry,” said Steve Lane, a communications manager at Armstrong.

Armstrong also launched a new product and program at Greenbuild.

The new product is the Design Envelope (DE) 4380 vertical in-line pumps that are now available in stainless steel. Armstrong launched a performance upgrade program for installed design envelope pumps that allows for upgrading existing design envelope pumps to include advanced control features and connectivity.

In other Greenbuild news:

  • Human rights lawyer and humanitarian Amal Clooney spoke about the need to address environmental issues such as climate change during her keynote speech. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz spoke during the conference’s closing plenary.
  • USGBC announced a LEED Zero certification, LEED transit rating system, integration of STAR and LEED for Cities and LEED for Communities and LEED recertification during the conference.
  • Greenbuild 2019 is scheduled for Nov. 20-22 in Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center.


The following is a sampling of products shown at Greenbuild 2018:

  • Armstrong Fluid Technology’s Design Envelope (DE) 4380 Vertical In-Line pumps are now available in stainless steel. For domestic water and light industrial use, these pumps are certified for safe drinking water systems to the NSF-61 and NSF-372 standards. The pumps can be used in many light industry petroleum and chemical applications and offer the advanced design envelope solutions.

  • ASSA ABLOY displayed its Openings Studio™, a plugin to Revit 3D. The plugin allows users to define secure and sustainable openings, set standards across an entire facility and keep everyone in the loop for the seamless integration of sustainable door security solutions.
  • CENTRIA exhibited its Formawall® with Halogen-Free Insulating Foam Core, an insulated metal panel system with halogen-free enhanced fire protection that comes standard. Formawall passes the updated NFPA 2285 fire test without the aid of fire-resistant interior gypsum, regardless of panel thickness, orientation, depth of reveal, finish, vertical joint type or profile shape with both steel tube and steel stud construction.


  • Draper, Inc. announced window shades made with Mermet USA’s new GreenScreen® Nature™ sustainable shade fabric. GreenScreen® Nature™ is unique with its lightweight construction of 100% natural fiberglass material that provides industry-leading achievement in flame resistance, smoke emissions and dimensional stability.


  • Interface, Inc., design and architecture firm Gensler, project development and construction group Skanska, Armstrong Ceiling and Wall Solutions, CertainTeed and USG launched materialsCAN (Carbon Action Network) to bring attention to the importance of embodied carbon. The group aims to provide those who own, lease, design or construct spaces with education and tools to better understand the carbon footprint of their projects, specifically through measuring the embodied carbon of specified materials.


  • Legrand showcased its LMRC-110 series room controllers. They include one or two relay(s) to switch a total of 10 amps, a high-efficiency switching power supply and dual 0-10 volt outputs per relay for control of dimmable loads including compatible LED drivers or electronic ballasts. They are the foundation of a Digital Lighting Management (DLM) system, and allow integration of occupancy sensors, daylighting controls and switches for energy-efficient control.


  • Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US LLC showcased an updated 2×2 Four-Way Ceiling Cassette (PLFY-P) as part of the CITY MULTI® product lineup. The new PLFY-P Ceiling Cassette offers a sleek, square-edge design that fits into the same 2 in. (5.08 cm) x 2 in. (5.08 cm) dimensions as many standard ceiling tiles. The four vanes allow air to flow in multiple directions for maximum comfort. The PLFY-P is available with an optional feature—the 3D i-see Sensor™—which continuously scans the room for occupancy and makes adjustments to maintain comfort.
  • Niagara Conservation featured its most efficient toilet yet, the Nano. Designed as a compact toilet, the Nano maintains the comfort of an elongated bowl, perfect for multifamily housing where multiple bathroom sizes often build for less comfortable round toilets. The Nano includes Niagara’s patented Stealth Technology which guarantees a powerful, clean flush every time. Dual flush technology allows users to select either 0.5 or 0.8 gallons-per-flush (gpf).


  • Saint-Gobain showcased SageGlass Harmony™, its latest dynamic glass. Unlike other solar management solutions that compromise aesthetics and impede views, Harmony dynamic glass provides daylight, heat and glare management while maintaining a natural and seamless connection to the outdoors. Harmony delivers a gradual in-pane tint transition from fully clear to fully tinted.