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With an unusual keynote and tracks on resilience, systemic thinking, and cutting-edge pro tips, you’ll be lucky to catch BE13.


Photo Credit: NESEA.org screen capture

It’s always fun and educational to connect with friends and colleagues from afar at Greenbuild, AIA Convention, and the Living Futures “Unconference,” but the BuildingEnergy conference in Boston, slated for March 5–7 this year, has a special place in our hearts.

Hosted by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA), BuildingEnergy is an annual pilgrimage for top designers, builders, and building science geeks from New England, New York, and Ontario—and beyond. The NESEA website says 4,000 people will attend this year, from 31 states and 14 countries.

Keynote speaker: NPR’s Alex Blumberg

Alex Blumberg, a National Public Radio commentator on Planet Money, will present the keynote talk on economics for environmentalists at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday, March 6.

As contractor Paul Eldrenkamp puts it, “Alex presents and explains complex economics ideas with real wit and clarity.” Eldrenkamp also identifies economics as a “weak point” for the typical BE13 audience. (For a taste of how economics and green building intersect, see our primers on Discount Rates and Ecosystem Services.)

Workshops: Skills for Building Resilient Communities

Tuesday will feature full- and half-day workshops on topics ranging from Passive House homes to biomimicry to grid-tied photovoltaic systems.

Our own Alex Wilson will co-present “Skills for Building Resilient Communities” with three other resilient design experts from 9–5 on Tuesday, offering participants “state-of-the-art design and planning strategies that directly link resilience with sustainability.”

Sessions: H2OUSE

Wednesday and Thursday are packed with an amazing variety of educational sessions, covering everything from energy modeling to “generative economy” to building enclosure commissioning.

After years of focusing on energy conservation, are you ready to take on water? Peter Yost, a BuildingGreen principal and residential high-performance building expert, will present “H2OUSE—Everything You Ever Needed to Know about Residential Water Consumption and Conservation.” But don’t leave your concerns about energy efficiency at the door: as the course description says, “Water is energy intensive; energy is water-intensive,” so there are a lot of reasons to focus on “water-smart design,” and this session will show you how. (Read “The Water–Energy Connection” for a quick review of how water and energy are linked.)

Trade show: Come by and visit

In addition to all these remarkable speakers and thinkers, BE13 also features a trade show attended some of the foremost renewable energy contractors and green building product manufacturers and distributors in the world.

We also hope you’ll stop by our booth, #656. We’ve got some surprises in store for you there that we’ll unveil shortly before the show.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t registered for BE13 yet, what are you waiting for? Looking at the offerings this year, I’m thinking 13 may just be NESEA’s lucky number.

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