By Travis A. Niles
The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) and its members are organizing the BuildingEnergy 14 Conference and Trade show at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston, March 4-6, 2014. This event is the region’s oldest gathering of high performance building and renewable energy practitioners. Known as “BE” to regulars, it’s so much more than an educational and networking event. It’s a nexus of creativity and knowledge for those passionate about building a better world. In the words of NESEA Member and Conference Track Chair Fred Unger, BE stands out because of the “technical proficiency and culture of curiosity” that prevails throughout the conference, indeed, it is for this reason that he hasn’t missed a conference since the late 1980’s. South Mountain Company’s John Abrams concurs, saying “…it’s become home. It’s gravity…it’s an important part of my life.”
Unwavering Commitment To Doing The Future Right
NESEA got its start in the late 1970s in Brattleboro, Vermont as the New England Solar Energy Association, a grassroots organization comprised of solar energy pioneers that advocated for renewable energy adoption. Its conference has known different names, different themes and venues through the years, but at all times, it was known as the place to be to get the pulse of the New England energy market. This was, in part, due to the multidisciplinary nature of the people it attracted. Says Unger of his early days with NESEA and BE “nowhere else have I found such a multidisciplinary group that demands honesty, competence and credibility from everyone.” The organization and its conference grew and evolved through what could be called a “cycle of empowerment.” As the renewable energy and green building fields grew, practitioners ran into challenges trying to do the best possible work. They asked tough questions and found answers – and kindred spirits – with NESEA connections, and through the conference they were able to educate and energize others who shared in their struggle and their commitment to building a sustainable future. This process of creating a conference by practitioners, for practitioners, means rigorous vetting of hundreds of ideas, and a fair share of “no’s”. But this distaste for greenwashing and preference for open, honest learning clearly works, as NESEA is gearing up to once again welcome 130 exhibitors and 3000 attendees to the Seaport World Trade Center.
The Pursuit of Mastery
This year’s BuildingEnergy theme is Advancing Your Practice, and there will be plenty of opportunities to do just that. The conference offers over 80 fully accredited educational sessions and workshops on green homes, energy policy, sustainable building materials and green business. It will also feature a Keynote Address by architect Amanda Sturgeon, Program Director of the Living Building Challenge. Ms Sturgeon will be speaking on how to advance sustainable, accountable design into the next century. Other featured events include the presentation of the $10,000 Zero Net Energy Building Award and Student Design Competition Award Ceremony.
There’ll also be plenty of networking opportunities for current practitioners and job-seekers alike. As Fred Unger recounts, “I’ve made a number of career moves over the years, and I can say with absolute certainty that when I’ve made these changes, it’s the things I’ve learned and the people I’ve met through NESEA and the BuildingEnergy conference that made those transitions successful.”
The energy and building markets are evolving rapidly. Now is the time to be paying attention to the issues, to build buildings and systems with purpose and integrity. Join NESEA in Boston for BuildingEnergy 2014.
More at nesea.org/buildingenergy
Travis A. Niles is Manager of Communications and IT.