The 7th Annual World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) International Congress took place in Toronto, Ontariofrom July 8 toJuly 11, 2007. The event was a remarkable success.
Over 100 delegates from all around the world met in Toronto over four days with one common goal, to advance green building principles worldwide. Representatives from every continent were present at the Congress, totalling 23 countries in all. The delegate base was made up of directors from WorldGBC, member green building councils, as well as emerging Green Building Councils on the verge of WorldGBC membership. There were also a number of representatives from countries that are just beginning the process of council development. The event also marked the inauguration of the WorldGBC Secretariat, to be based out of the Greater Toronto Area.
Those in attendance heard from some of the pioneering global thinkers in the battle against climate change. Presenters included David Orr, the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College and James Marsh, Professor at large at the University of Vermont, who addressed the issue of climate change and the need for immediate and sufficient response. Harvey Bernstein, Vice President of Industry Analytics, Alliances and Strategic Initiatives for McGraw-Hill Construction, presented findings from his report The Greening of Corporate America – namely that green building has become a trend that is driving change in Corporate America and around the world. This report is available for purchase on their website at www.construction.com. Also presenting at the Congress was the Honourable Tom Roper, who served 21 years in the Victorian Parliament in Australia and is now an active board member in the WashingtonDC based Climate Institute. His presentation covered the topic of impacts and adaptation in the face of climate change.
In addition to the presentations, delegates were given the opportunity to take part in panel discussions and workshops. The overarching focus for discussion was ‘Capacity Building for Green Building Councils’. Delegates focused on ‘breadth’ – the creation of new green building councils and ‘depth’ – the development of existing green building councils, in other words, councils that can deliver rapid and meaningful change in their local markets.
A vision emerged from discussions at the congress: the vision of 100 / 100 / 100 in three years. The goal is to have 100 member councils, 100 million people engaged, and 100 million dollars in funding to aid in the collective effort of councils globally.
The main congress events came to a close on July 10th with a high-energy, multicultural gala celebration at the Liberty Grand. The gala clearly demonstrated the support that green buildings have and will continue to receive on the local and provincial level here in Ontario. Toronto Mayor, David Miller and East Gwillimbury Mayor, Jamie Young addressed the crowd regarding the need for action at the local level. The strong support of green building councils from the Provinceof Ontario was demonstrated through a message from the Premier as well as speeches from Provincial Finance Minister Greg Sorbara and Provincial Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield.
Another highlight from the gala evening was the announcement that both the United Kingdom and Brazil Green Building Councils had become official members of WorldGBC.
Overall the Congress highlighted that the key to WorldGBC’s success will be to “focus on leadership; to support, encourage and reward our best practices; to be inclusive and listen to small voices as well as the loud ones; to celebrate our diversity and to take strength from all it gives us.”
The next official WorldGBC meet will take place in Chicago during Greenbuild 2007, followed by an event inLondon, Englandas part of Ecobuild, a 20,000 person event. A number of WorldGBC delegates will return to Torontoin June 2008 for Canada Green Building Council’s first national green building event – “Shifting into the Mainstream”