By Ryan Duffy, Communications Fellow

This March, in just a few weeks, the USGBC MA chapter will be hosting a special COP21 Paris Climate Talks Unconference to revisit these important international conversations.

This is a unique opportunity to discuss the historic 2015 United Nations Congress of the Parties (COP21), held this past December in Paris, France.  The provisions and commitments reached in the agreement have global implications for sustainability, climate change, and green building, and certainly warrant a closer examination, extensive analysis, and more discussion.

For this reason, we have put together a half-day event featuring a community of experts from a variety of organzations and firms. Panelists who attended the Paris climate talks will be present, with break-out groups led by local issue experts.


Partnering Organizations: 

  • Sierra Club
  • CABA, Climate Action Business Association
  • Foundation for a Green Future
  • ELM, Envoronmental League of Massachusetts

Our Paris Panelists:

  • Michael Green, Climate Action Business Association
  • Christopher Mackey, Payette
  • Professor John Sterman, MIT System Dynamics Group

Our unConference Discussion Leaders:

  • Josh Craft, Environmental League of Massachusetts
  • Henrietta Davis, former Mayor of the City of Cambridge
  • Elizabeth Saunders, Clean Water Action

More about the Event:

More than 30 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions are buildings-related, and emissions could double
 by 2050 if we carry on business as 
usual. Inaction increases risks and vulnerability of countries, regions and local communities from climate change. Yet:

  • The buildings sector offers one of the most cost-effective and economically beneficial paths for reducing energy demand and associated emissions while at the same time supporting adaptation and resilience to climate change.
  • Many low-energy, renewable and deep- renovation solutions are available. Proven policy, finance and technology actions exist.
  • The economic, health, and social benefits of sustainable buildings are significant. Buildings provide shelter, places to live, work, learn and socialize, directly affecting our daily lives.
  • Buildings are long-term ventures. Today’s new buildings are tomorrow’s existing stock. Failure to act now will lock in growth in GHG emissions for decades.

Here is how the morning will pan out:

8:30 – 9 Registration and networking
9 – 9:15 Keynote and opening
9:15 – 10:30 Breakout (unconference)
10:30 – 10:40 Break + Networking
10:40 – 12:00 Paris Panel with questions from audience

Both the panel and breakout sessions will focus on the following topics and will provide perspectives from various professional backgrounds:

  • Value Chain Transformation: is the building sector capable of massive deployment of low emitting buildings and deep renovations? How will building sector stakeholders better work together to scale up solutions adapted to local circumstances?
  • Bridging the investment gap: how ready is the finance sector to increase investment in building efficiency?  How will we address the critical need to scale up the public and private financing of EE and sustainable buildings. We will explore how buildings and EE can contribute to realizing MA's carbon goals and how the financial sector can help support that.
  • Public Policies: what is the readiness to implement long term action plans to address the key role of local jurisdictions to organize and facilitate integrated policy packages and collaborative approaches that shift to a low carbon and resilient built environment. 
  • Building rating & reporting systems: how do they support the COP21 momentum?  

Please join us as a community of advocates and practitioners as we explore how to leverage the public awareness and policy momentum generated by COP21 to drive policy gains in Massachusetts.


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