A year full of new programming and record attendances, 2014 defined and expanded the mission of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Colorado chapter. Two new events, the Commercial Real Estate Forum and the Holiday Awards Gala, nurtured commercial real estate’s commitment to green building. The chapter’s signature Rocky Mountain Green and Green Schools Summit events saw record attendances.

“There is enormous support behind green building in Colorado,” said Sharon Alton, executive director, USGBC Colorado. “People in both urban centers and rural communities want to grow the state sustainably. This starts with the spaces we build and re-imagine.”

USGBC Colorado predicts the following green building trends will emerge in 2015:

• Green construction powers the industry. Colorado will continue to grow as a center of green construction expertise and ownership. “As a panel of developers and owners told us at our Commercial Real Estate Forum, green buildings are becoming a must-have for owners,” Alton said.

Members of the architectural, engineering and construction community can witness that expertise first hand at Rocky Mountain Green 2015, held April 2–3, at the Hyatt Regency Denver. New this year, the event adds a commercial real estate track that includes speakers from the state’s leading developers and owners.

• Commercial real estate brings together the public and private sectors.
Denver’s Union Station opened its doors last summer, forming the core of a major urban revitalization project to sustainably build a 21st century urban community. The project is attracting international attention for its commitment to creating partnerships between the private and public sectors.

USGBC Colorado credits Colorado’s commercial real estate industry with successfully bridging the gap between sectors to execute Union Station and other green building projects, large and small. The organization’s 2015 Commercial Real Estate Forum will work to facilitate the relationships public, private and nonprofit leaders need to realize sustainable design.

 “With many LEED-certified projects in the Union Station neighborhood coming to completion in 2015, it will be apparent that green building and the hottest neighborhood in the region are not a coincidental combination,” Alton said.

• Green schools leaders gain resources. Colorado schools are under enormous pressure, as their enrollments grow and their buildings age. But a handful of private and public programs in the state support schools that want to renovate or build their facilities sustainably.

Many of the state programs to support green schools discussed at 2014’s Green Schools Summit will increase in sophistication in 2015. The Colorado Energy Office will bundle its programs in a new Energy Savings for Schools offering this year, while the Colorado Dept. of Education will open a new Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) Program grant round with an expected $35 million–$45 million of available funding.

USGBC Colorado will help to facilitate the sustainable schools conversation this fall at Green Schools Summit 2015.

 • Colorado continues to innovate. USGBC Colorado presented its first Green Commercial Real Estate awards at its Holiday Awards Gala in December. The awards jury was faced with the challenge of narrowing a great number of worthy projects down to a few winners.

“There’s no shortage of innovative, exciting green building projects completed or in progress in Colorado right now,” Alton noted. “That trend won’t reverse anytime soon.