Afternoon keynote speaker Stacy Smedley, director of sustainability at Skanska USA Building and executive director at Building Transparency, has long embraced collective actions in the pursuit of sustainable design, as well as construction methods to build resilient communities. She was a lead developer of the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3), an open-source tool released in 2019. Her presentation began explaining how we need to make changes that better the environment before it’s too late. Smedley gave real-life examples, such as the orange, smoke-filled skies that were taking over the West Coast skies as she was giving her keynote, causing unhealthy conditions for many. Stacy stated, “we are at a series of tipping points, simultaneously seeing the impacts of climate change realized and bearing witness to how global society can come together to take action or choose not to via the pandemic response, while also experiencing how we can all stay connected in a virtual society.” She stressed the importance of being a connector; sharing our various strengths, data, and knowledge; and working together to cause positive tipping points and to spur movement in the fight against climate change.
Smedley also told the story of her journey that propelled her into working with over 150 individuals and organizations, such as the Carbon Leadership Forum, to address the monumental task of modeling and calculating the embodied carbon of buildings. For a 480,000SF sample project in Seattle, embodied carbon represented 85% of the total lifetime carbon emissions. What came out of that was the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) tool, one of the first free databases of Environmental Product Declarations and an embodied carbon calculator. The EC3 project highlighted how connected individuals can work together to use the data they have to persuade others to take action for a collective outcome.
Conversations weren’t just held during the keynotes or breakout sessions. Throughout the day, our hive kept buzzing as attendees, speakers, and sponsors kept conversations going using our online Bee Social Slack channels. Additionally, our virtual Ask-a-Keynote-Anything sessions offered attendees additional time to interact with keynote speakers in small groups outside of the standard post-speech Q&A. Virtual photobooth photos were shared with the hashtag #BuiltGreen2020 and connections were made both online and “face-to-face.”
We hope everyone who came to the conference learned something new and walked away feeling inspired. We hope to see you next year, hopefully for an in-person conference!