After forcing attendees to brandish their passports and travel to Toronto last year, the U.S. Green Building Council’s annual jamboree, the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, has returned to American soil for this year’s show. It officially kicks off tomorrow.


For the first time in Greenbuild’s 10-year history, the event will be held in beautiful, green building-heavy San Francisco and fittingly enough a primary venue, the Moscone Center, just recently achieved LEED Gold certification following an extensive facelift and renovation. Highlights of Greenbuild 2012 including opening plenary speeches from Newark, N.J.’s superhero/Mayor Cory Booker, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, Majora Carter, George Pataki, and others; a fantastic line-up of workshops, education sessions, summits, and master speeches; building tours; a film festival; a scavenger hunt; and a celebration party with a live performance by Train (hello 1998!) that’s meant to “spark excitement and invigorate the green building community.” 


It’s been a monumental (LEED for Homes surpasses the 20,000 mark), awkward (the delay of LEED 2012 to 2013), and, at times, trying (Thomas Frank’s controversial, relentlessly ouch-y expose on the shortcomings of LEED published in USA TODAY last month) year for the USGBC. But, as always, Greenbuild is an excuse for the green building community to let its collective hair down while sobering up enough for "three days of outstanding educational sessions, renowned speakers, green building tours, special seminars, and networking events.” Also, based on what I'm seeing from Greenbuild 2012's promotional materials, there will be a whole lot of Twitter-based schmoozing going on.


Award ceremonies are also an intergral part of Greenbuild. At Thursday’s Greenbuild Residential Summit, perhaps the most anticipated honors, the LEED for Homes Awards, will be presented. Says Nate Kredich, VP of Residential Market Development at the USGBC in a press release: “This year’s leadership recipients represent a dynamic field showcasing the range of residential developments that certify under USGBC’s LEED for Homes program each year. The fact that our project of the year is an affordable housing development that achieved LEED Platinum certification is a shining example of how diversified the LEED for Homes portfolio has become.”


The project of the year that Kredich mentions is of special interest to me: The development is located on the Puyallup Tribal Reservation right outside my hometown of Tacoma, Wash. I was actually completely unaware of the project until now and look forward to learning more.


Scroll down to read more about that project and others being honored with 2012 LEED for Homes Awards. A tip of the hat to all parties mentioned!


• Project of the Year Award: Place of the Hidden Waters Community Longhouse, Puyallup Tribal Housing Authority; Puyallup, Wash. 


"This LEED Platinum certified housing project is a culturally a, nd environmentally responsive new model for the Puyallup Tribe in the Pacific NW. It’s located on the Puyallup reservation on a hill overlooking the Puget Sound tide flats, which were traditional Puyallup tribal lands. The buildings are designed to emulate the rectangular, shed roofed form of a traditional Coast Salish longhouse using a variation of the modern townhouse courtyard building. Structural insulated panels with excellent air sealing for a well-insulated envelope, triple pane windows and ground source heat pumps for both domestic hot water and hydronic heating systems are some of the sustainable features."


• Outstanding Single Family Project: Brooks Residence, Isabelle Duvivier (architect); Venice, Calif. 


"Located in Venice, Calif., the Brooks Residence is a 1,700 sq. ft. LEED Platinum home. Homeowner and architect, Isabelle Duvivier, purchased the 100-year-old home in a well-established, low-income neighborhood in order to restore it. The goal was to reduce the footprint/impact of the house on the planet through water, energy and material efficiency. Above and beyond that goal, the home design works to restore habitats for birds, bees and butterflies and creates educational opportunities for the local community."


• Outstanding Multifamily Project: Eco Modern Flats, Specialized Real Estate Group (developer); Fayetteville, Ark. 


"This LEED Platinum project is a gut rehab of a 96-unit market rate apartment complex built between 1968 and1972 and located in Fayetteville, Ark. The developers’ goals were to deliver a product that was not currently available in the market—modern, urban, green multifamily rental—and to save operations costs through energy and water-saving updates. In addition to the rehab itself, a blog and other informational resources were developed, and hundreds of people toured a model unit highlighting 32 sustainable strategies employed in the project."


Outstanding Affordable Housing Project: Rio Vista Apartments, Adobe Communities (developer); Los Angeles, Calif. 


"This is the first development in LA County to co-locate affordable housing with an educational component owned and operated by the Los Angeles Unified School District on the District’s surplus land. The LEED Platinum apartments transform a vacant parking lot into a model joint-use development addressing the needs of 50 low-income families. The site is a high-density infill, a former brownfield with existing infrastructure, and is located with access to outstanding community resources. Rio Vista is energy efficient (exceeds Title 24 by 40 percent) and includes an edible garden atop the roof with a central trellised courtyard providing a shaded outdoor space to reduce heat island effects."


Outstanding Affordable Developer: Avesta Housing for Oak Street Lofts. Portland, Maine.

Outstanding Production Builder: Clarum Communities for Cambridge Plaza. Palo Alto, Calif.

Outstanding Commitment to LEED for Homes: McGuyer Homebuilders, Inc. Texas.


Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

LEED for Homes Awards recipients revealed ahead of Greenbuild 2012
With the U.S. Green Building Council's Greenbuild International Conference and Expo about to kick off in San Francisco, the organization announces the recipient