Why bother attending NESEA's BuildingEnergy 15 Conference in March
? There are a lot of Conferences to choose from. There are webcasts that provide information. These conferences are expensive! They take me away from the office while my work piles up. They take me away from home for a couple of days. Half the time, the sessions are not very good and I don't actually learn much that I can put to use. The sessions are just teasers - giving you just enough information to consider hiring the presenter to get more of their information and expertise. I don't really talk to anyone interesting at these conferences. I feel left out because I'm not in the "in -crowd" of those few working on the big projects or the cutting edge projects with huge budgets. I either don't know enough to keep up with the advanced sessions or I know too much and I'm bored with the sessions that tell me what I already know. High performance building is not my sole focus, so I can't afford to invest the time and money into this particular conference.
Do any of these arguments strike a chord? Thinking of sitting this conference out? ...Think again.
No, this conference won't make you an expert in three days. It won't answer every question you have ever had about energy and building high performance projects. However, if you come to the conference with good questions, you will probably get them answered. Even better, you may start some discussions among people like you and hopefully, people very different than you, who have a different viewpoint and different experiences because they are looking at that issue from a totally different angle because the attendees are not all architects or engineers or builders. They are all those and a host of other professionals and organizations who care about doing the right thing and doing it well. You will get up to speed on topics that you really should know more about, especially when you are trying to convince your clients that you know more about these issues than your competition.
The building profession is changing fast. Those of us in the midst of it are clear - energy codes are getting stricter; clients are looking for greener, more efficient projects and the competition is fierce. At the same time, you had better know what mistakes people in your profession have been making while trying to do these projects in new and better ways.
That's what is beautiful about the BE conference. People will talk about mistakes, what was hard and what they would do differently next time. There are a lot of people who are speaking at this conference who have a LOT of experience working toward Zero Net Energy buildings, Passive House buildings, Living Building Challenge buildings and installing PV systems. They have learned a lot, they have a lot of data to back up their claims and they are willing to share their successes and their failures.
This is what makes the Building Energy Conference different. Each year, a large group of (unpaid) professionals invests a lot of their personal time and energy into making this conference worth going to. Each speaker and topic is vetted to ensure that we are getting the best information about the most pertinent topics each year. I am one of those people who has invested untold hours over the last 15 years into making this the best possible conference that I would want to attend. In that time, I have been able to take what was only a personal passion and make it one of my firm's top priorities. We are now doing cutting edge work with Zero Net Energy affordable housing. This conference and the connections I have made here and the resources that have become available have helped make that happen.
That is why it is worth attending. I would go so far as saying that you can't afford the time and energy NOT to attend. The information you will get, the connections you will make and the mistakes you will not have to make on your own because someone else made them and told you about it - makes this conference one of the best investments you are likely to make this year.
I hope to see you there.