Regional Trade Shows Bring a World of Knowledge into One’s Own Backyard

It’s almost time for DesignColumbus, Central Ohio’s annual educational event and expo. The DesignColumbus story is similar to that of many trade shows across the U.S. Hosted by the USGBC-Central Ohio Chapter (USGBC-COH) and the Construction Specifications Institute Columbus Chapter, DesignColumbus continues to grow. Here the DesignColumbus planning committee talks to Doug Widener, Director, Community Advancement at the USGBC, about the regional trade show trend.

Regional trade shows for the building industry are flourishing. In part this is because they are able to harness the power of the digital age for their planning efforts; connectivity and rapid information transfer are helping regional shows achieve a previously unheard of scale and range of events. But their strength is old-fashioned, face-to-face interaction.

“The value we’re seeing with local trade shows is very much akin to the value of USGBC chapter progress in general,” said Widener. “They connect a region with experts that have information to share. The shows set a context.”

Widener sees successful show growth across the U.S., with each show being organized according to a slightly different model. Some shows have a reach that extends across a multi-state area. For example, Greening the Heartland, which used to travel to different host cities in the Midwest, settled on Chicago as a permanent home about three years ago and has transformed into Building the Heartland, a bigger and more robust event. Building the Heartland has green building as a component of its overall message, and is done in partnership with AIA Chicago. It attracts attendees from across the Midwest. Similarly, USGBC chapters and other partners in the American Southwest combine forces to host an educational event. In other locations, USGBC chapters host their own shows – for example, Minnesota will soon host Impact 2015 and Colorado will host Rocky Mountain Green.

No matter what organizational model these shows follow, one key to their success is bringing in national speakers. Gaining access to national speakers gives show attendees an affordable option for tapping into a broader knowledge base. Offering a full slate of educational events – especially if they earn attendees professional credits – is also important for show growth and success. And the ability for industry organizations to partner, working together to host an event, helps those events scale up, becoming bigger and better each year.

Another important aspect of local trade shows is their ability to focus on the special concerns of an individual region. The USGBC South Florida Chapter, for example, created Tropical Green, an all-day education conference focused on communicating best practices for building successful communities and buildings in a humid, temperate environment.

“Tropical Green attracted attendees from cities throughout the area – including the Caribbean — that have these specialized, local issues,” said Widener.
Other examples of topics that are particularly popular in certain regions are resiliency to storms and water conservation.

As for DesignColumbus, some of this year’s topics that speak directly to our region’s building industry professionals include: high speed rail in the Midwest, repurposing historic structures, and building within our urban contexts. For a full roster of events, check out our presentation schedule here.

Plan to attend DesignColumbus 2015 at COSI in Columbus, Ohio on April 20 – or attend a show in your area – to take advantage of what they have to offer.


This year’s keynote speaker, Doug Kridler, is sponsored by The Columbus Foundation’s Green Funds.

Preserving a Community Landmark: A Historic Factory Becomes a Modern Office

Environmental and sustainable efforts in new construction are expected; however, evaluating and implementing those practices into a historical facility can be challenging. As cities, districts and neighborhoods evolve, it is increasingly important to balance modern amenities with respect to the past during renovation and sustainability-focused construction projects.

For an overview of the process and considerations taken to transform a historical building into a modern, commercial office environment — while embracing the impact on the surrounding community, neighborhood, and historical registry — attend the DesignColumbus presentation, “Preserving a Community Landmark: A Historic Factory Becomes a Modern Office” by Shaun Holloway, Association of College and University Housing Officers-International and Sallie Traxler, Association of College and University Housing Officers-International.

Attendees will gain an understanding of how to guide a renovation project for a facility that is on a historical registry and evaluated by local area commissions, as well as how to identify practical ways to leverage historical construction to create an accessible, sustainable, and highly-functional collaborative office space. The presenters will also focus on recognizing opportunities to cooperate with community leaders and local organizations in supporting commercial renovation projects. Their case study shares the challenges faced in executing environmental remediation and sustainability efforts in a commercial building that is more than 85 years old.

DesignColumbus will take place on April 20th at COSI.


This year’s keynote speaker, Doug Kridler, is sponsored by The Columbus Foundation’s Green Funds.

Ohio Continues to Lead the Nation in Sustainable Schools

Established in 1986, the School Energy Conservation Program, known as House Bill 264, enables K-12 schools to invest in energy efficiency construction projects that pay for themselves (from the energy savings realized) within 15 years. The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) approves about 40 projects per year, at an average construction cost of approximately $2M for each project.  The presentation “Ohio’s K-12 Energy Conservation & Sustainable Initiatives,” by Ron Spangler, P.E., CEM, OFCC and Lisa A. Laney, OFCC, will provide tips on how to implement a successful project.

Ohio is leading the nation in LEED certified and registered schools.  Over 340 schools are registered through the USGBC LEED for Schools rating system with 185+ certifications to date. The presenters will discuss the impact the projects are having as well as look at program accomplishments and examples of schools that have incorporated energy efficiencies and environmental initiatives into their operations and/or curriculum.  Addressing questions such as, “What areas of sustainability are schools focusing on and are they successful in their pursuit?” and “Are there common hurdles to schools pursuing certain areas of sustainability?” the presentation will identify resources currently available for sustainable and environmental awareness issues.

This year’s keynote speaker, Doug Kridler, is sponsored by The Columbus Foundation’s Green Funds.


Sorting Out the Alphabet Soup of Sustainability: LCAs, EPDs and HPDs

The multitude of rating systems and product labels is causing tremendous confusion in the building industry. Multiple, overlapping and sometimes conflicting reporting formats make sorting out the green from the greenwash increasingly difficult. The presentation, “Sorting out the alphabet soup of sustainability: LCAs, EPDs and HPDs,” by Lisa Britton, CSI, CCPR, LEED AP BD+C, GGP, Industrial Louvers, Inc., covers the basics of three types of reporting: Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs), Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and Health Product Declarations (HPDs). Each has an important role to play and provides challenges and opportunities for product evaluation.

In addition to describing the purposes of LCAs, HPDs, and EPDs, the session will cover how each of these systems contributes to new MR credits in LEED v4, Green Globes, the Living Building Challenge and other rating systems. Britton will also discuss the limitations and information gaps in existing tools for evaluating the sustainability of products, as well as share a manufacturer’s perspective on providing sustainability information and the challenges and opportunities associated with leading these efforts.

This year’s keynote speaker, Doug Kridler, is sponsored by The Columbus Foundation’s Green Funds.


Neighborhood Placemaking in the Riversouth District

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Following up on its success with the residential development Annex at RiverSouth, Lifestyle Communities recently began construction on the nearby Trautman Residential Development. The new apartment building is located at the corner of High and Rich Streets, where the Trautman building and a three story bank building formerly stood.

The eight story tower, which includes street-level commercial space and underground parking, is Lifestyle Communities’ first venture into building an urban highrise. With the popularity of downtown housing continuing to expand, the developer is taking the opportunity to turn the area into a multi-block neighborhood, with various amenities housed in structures of diverse scales. The classic architectural elements of the tower  – from pediments and pilasters to traditional building materials – impart a timeless feel to the structure. A “sister” tower is currently being planned for the southwest corner of the High and Rich Street intersection, expanding the neighborhood further.

See David B. Meleca of David B. Meleca Architects, LLC and Chase Miller of Lifestyle Communities at DesignColumbus 2015, where they will discuss placemaking in the development process, the importance of architectural language as branding, and the challenges of incorporating design-build into the urban context.

DesignColumbus 2015 will take place at COSI on April 20.

This year’s keynote speaker, Doug Kridler, is sponsored by The Columbus Foundation’s Green Funds.