Greenbuild 2019: President Obama Delivers Keynote and NWFA Members Showcase Sustainable Products

Photo Credit: Oscar & Associates
President Barrack Obama speaks at Greenbuild 2019 in Atlanta on Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)’s 2019 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo was held November 19-22 in Atlanta. The world’s largest conference and expo for the green building industry opened with a keynote featuring President Barack Obama.

The keynote was an hour-long question and answer session between President Obama and Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of USGBC. Questions ranged from how President Obama had been enjoying life outside of the White House to what he sees as the most compelling issue facing the world today. For the latter, President Obama named climate change and global economic equality.

Photo Credit: Oscar & Associates
President Barack Obama speaks at Greenbuild 2019 in Atlanta on Wednesday, November 20, 2019, with Mahesh Ramanujam, CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council.

President Obama also offered thoughts on organizing a broad-based coalition to effectively tell the sustainability story in communities. He spoke about how growing up in Hawaii inspired his interest in preserving resources, and that connecting people to a place that is special to them is a good way to start the conversation. 

“If I wanted to initiate more sustainable building strategies in a neighborhood, the first thing I’d want to go around and do is just talk to the neighborhood and find out how do people live,” said President Obama. “What are their concerns? What do they think about their homes? What do they think about their neighbors? What works, what doesn’t? Because when you listen, it turns that out you get a sense of what people’s priorities are, what their values are, what their worries are, and that then should inform your strategies for organizing.”

Greenbuild 2019 expo floor at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta on Wednesday, November 20, 2019. 

Greenbuild attendees include architects, builders/contractors, owners, developers, educators and students, engineers, government officials, interior designers, manufacturers of building materials and systems, sustainability officers, and executives from utilities, waste management companies, and transportation. Many companies with flooring-related products were represented, including NWFA members who either attended or exhibited at this year’s show.

“Greenbuild is the largest worldwide event where professionals come to learn about sustainability. It gives manufacturers the opportunity to learn and improve the manufacturing process, as well as gives architects and engineers more knowledge in the design and build process,” said Luxia Hong, managing director for Amaz Floors.

Flooring from Amaz Floors was featured in the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)’s booth at Greenbuild. Hong attended education sessions at the show, including one session about how students can partner with mentors to make their schools more sustainable and solve environmental issues their schools may be facing.

“It was very encouraging to listen to two college students who have shared real-life stories on how they have taken the initiative during their high school years about sustainability, reached out to mentors such as architects and the USGBC to learn the steps they can take to accomplish their goals,” stated Hong. “It is great that these green initiatives have now touched the hearts of the younger generation, and we look forward to their passion and pursuit to make the world a better place.”

Chris Vegas, technology director, innovation for Huber Engineered Woods LLC, explained they exhibit at the show because it’s helpful to understand what is most important to the Greenbuild community.

“Huber and the Huber family are very focused on our ‘Triple Bottom Line’ of People, Planet, and Profit.  We are cognizant of our environmental footprint and are continuously working to improve our impact on the communities in which we live and operate,” said Vegas.

Regarding their involvement, he added, “At Greenbuild, we look at the industry trends and get feedback from those who are active in sustainability initiatives. We have also put a lot of work into conducting life cycle analyses of our products to give architects, engineers, and specifiers the tools they need to be successful.  We lead continuing education sessions with attendees to increase knowledge of best building practices to contribute to the success and longevity of their projects.”

Next year’s event is scheduled to take place November 3 – 6, 2020, in San Diego. For more information about Greenbuild, visit

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