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Green has gone global, in more than just the literal sense: sustainability is now taking place worldwide, and extends beyond conservation to societal concerns, according to the US Green Building Council, the organizers of the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, being held Nov. 19 to 21 at the Boston Convention Center and Exhibition Center.

Combining both sessions and a major display will be the $35-billion, 1,500-acre Songdo International Business District (IBD), a new city currently under construction off Incheon, South Korea, that combines a number of green initiatives, says Gale International, a co-developer of the project.

“This is the largest privately funded project in the world,” says Charles Reid, executive VP of design and construction of New York City and Boston-based Gale, which also will feature its sustainable developments One Franklin Street and Seaport Square–the latter to be located adjacent to the convention center–at the conference. Gale’s own exhibit will tie into those of LG Electronics, United Technologies Corp. (UTC) and 3M Corp. to show the technologies and materials developed for Songdo.

These include: the first water-cooled central air conditioning units in Korea, developed by Carrier and LG specifically for Songdo IBD; the first hydrogen fuel cell-powered municipal bus fleet in Asia, being fielded by Gale in conjunction with UTC; fuel cell co-generators, also from UTC; the use of iCRETE, a construction material that cuts greenhouse gases; a massive citywide pneumatic centralized waste management system that nearly eliminates the need for garbage trucks; the use of indigenous plants to reduce or eliminate irrigation; greywater recycling systems; and wind turbines.

Project co-developer POSCO E&C of Korea approached Gale five years ago to develop the IBD, one portion of a 10,000-acre new city, Reid says.

“The green wave has hit Asia, and hit Korea very hard,” Reid says. “They wanted it to be at the cutting edge of environmental design.”

The group is using the USGBC’s LEED rating system as a reference, with a goal of every building achieving some level of certification, though a success rate of 60% to 80% is more realistic, Reid says. The project is opening in phases through 2014.

In addition, Gale executives will speak about Songdo and other green initiatives at several of the more than 100 sessions being held at the conference. “We are using the lessons learned and putting it into the Seaport and other projects,” Reid notes. “Doing this is good for the world and good for our kids. And the more we use [the technology], the cheaper it will become.”

That global sharing of information is a key idea behind Greenbuild, which will feature more than 100 sessions, and a keynote speech by Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu to advance the conference theme of “Revolutionary Green: Innovations for Global Sustainability.” Other panel discussions will range from very specific technological discussions on wind turbines and “Bird Friendly Design” to “Green Legislation and its Influence in the Public, Private and Non-Profit Sectors,” Environmental Action Meets Social Justice and “Global Warming and the Concentration of Poverty.”

“Greenbuild is really a good place to start that discussion and to move it forward,” says USGBC spokeswoman Ashley Katz.

Tuesday, Nov. 18 will host an International Forum, in which leaders from around the world, including Gale International CEO and managing partner John B. Hynes III will discuss issues. Sessions throughout the conference will profile activities in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and China.

Also new this year is “Homebuilders Day”, with panels on Extreme Green, discussing two different approaches on building high-performance homes; Elegant and Efficient Solutions for Aging Building Stock; and Green Products and Technologies, among other topics. Kevin O’Connor, host of DIY Series “This Old House” will act as a plenary speaker.

Boston, with its history of revolution and commitment to sustainable initiatives was a logical place to hold this year’s conference, Katz says. History also will be noted in a number of sessions, including a session on “Greening our Historic Legacy,” which will discuss the approaches needed to achieve LEED certification while preserving a building’s historic legacy. Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is a master speaker.

The first Greenbuild was held just in 2002–in Austin, TX–with educational sessions focused on commercial real estate. Since then, it has expanded its focus to include residential real estate, the evolution of the USGBC’s LEED certification and international topics. Last year’s conference attracted nearly 23,000 attendees from around the world, and the USGBC expects this year’s attendance to exceed that number.

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