Greenbuild continues to be one of the industry’s most successful trade shows… but how are local sustainability shows faring? Read one city’s story – and share your own.

Green Build 2013Last month, many of us had the pleasure of going to Philadelphia for Greenbuild 2013. And going to Greenbuild is a bit like going on vacation… when it’s over, you can’t wait to go back. But instead of waiting a whole year to attend your next sustainability trade show, see what your local USGBC chapter (or any other organization in your area) may be hosting.

In Central Ohio, a green building educational event and trade show known as DesignColumbus is held every April at COSI, the city’s Center for Science and Industry. The USGBC – Central Ohio Chapter and the Construction Specifications Institute Columbus Chapter have been co-hosting DesignColumbus since 2011. Prior to that time, DesignColumbus was an established local trade show hosted by CSI. Once the two organizations joined forces, they enlarged the event, turning it into a full day of continuing education and informational displays that is organized to attract hundreds of professionals involved in the building industry.

“In the three years since the joint effort began, we have not only increased attendance but we have become THE show for Central Ohio’s building community,” said Jim McDonald, DesignColumbus Committee Chair. “Our efforts to present education programs that are project based has drawn interest from all levels of the design and building professions. As a result of the increased education attraction, the exhibitors have stepped up their game as well and are presenting the best in new products, services and processes to create a more sustainable built environment.”

Local trade shows aren’t just miniature versions of the national ones. Because they focus on local suppliers and regional issues, local shows can help align your business with what is going on in your area. At DesignColumbus, presentations addressed everything from local zoning topics, to a roundtable conversation led by the LEED v4 Regionalization Task Force for Central Ohio.

More than three quarters of attendees surveyed after DesignColumbus 2013 came mostly to reap the benefits of the education sessions, which also earn them AIA and GBCI/ USGBC continuing education units (CEUs). Almost all respondents saw the show as a valuable networking opportunity and reported gaining new knowledge that would help with their job function. And, just as important, everyone had fun!

“[It’s an] outstanding experience; I look forward to it every year!” said Bruce Danko of KeyBank. And Brandi Sauter of URS Corporation said, “I have attended DesignColumbus the past three years. This year was the best so far. Overall, the event keeps getting better and more organized.”

In addition to annual shows, ongoing local USGBC programming is a great way to keep abreast of what’s going on. The USGBC – Central Ohio Chapter has a monthly educational program hosted over lunch, quarterly Building in Action tours, and a twice monthly USGBC LEED-Specific Webinar Series – and all of them are worth AIA/GBCI CEU’s.

Planning efforts for DesignColumbus 2014 are ramping up. Stay tuned for updates which share the story of how Columbus is growing its local sustainability event and making each year’s show better than the last… and post a comment below to share your city’s story – both its successes and challenges – so that we can learn from one another.

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