Most Innovative Meetings 2016: #2 Greenbuild International Conference & Expo

The group uses C.S.R. programs to connect with local communities.

By Martha C. White October 17, 2016, 6:50 AM EDT

At Greenbuild, C.S.R. programs take place on the show floor as well as in local communities.

Photo: Ana Ka'ahanui

Nearly 550 exhibitors at Informa Exhibitions' Greenbuild International Conference & Expo display their eco-friendly building tools, supplies, and equipment on the show floor. But thanks to an innovative outreach program, a handful of them also get a real-life opportunity to do good at the same time, as well as to give Greenbuild’s 19,000 attendees opportunities to see the group’s commitment to C.S.R. causes on and off the show floor.

For each expo, organizers select an annual “Legacy Project” that will continue to give back long after the conventioneers have left town, said Kate Hurst, the vice president of community advancement, conferences, and events at the U.S. Green Building Council. The council charges members $25 to submit a proposal for future Legacy Projects, a simple tactic that has become a vital fund-raising source, raising as much as $13,000 each year.

“Every year, the Legacy Project is a little bit different, but the impact of all these companies coming to a city and then connecting them back to these projects in the local community is always significant,” Hurst said.

At the 2015 Greenbuild, held in Washington, D.C., the group partnered with the Capital Food Bank to create an “urban food studio” as part of an existing community garden. Attendees could sign up for a “field trip” to visit the studio, which was designed to be a year-round space for education and workshops on gardening, cooking, and similar projects.

This is just one of several C.S.R. initiatives to which the council commits time and money, Hurst said. Another initiative from last year, called “Communities Together,” saw a consortium of exhibitors—organized by Building Design & Construction magazine—collaborate to construct a build out on the show floor of a modular building using eco-friendly materials and design. The building remained on display for the duration of the show before being moved to a permanent home in Druid Park in nearby Baltimore, where it is being used as a job-training center.

For this year’s upcoming Greenbuild, which will be held in Los Angeles in October, Hurst said the Legacy Project is building an educational facility to help teach kids about recycling and repurposing materials that would otherwise be discarded.

“They’re in need of a build out for a classroom,” she said.“We’re filling an immediate need.”

Correction: This article has been updated to clarify the roles of Informa Exhibitions and the U.S. Green Building Council.

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