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2020 New Gravity Housing Conference

Thu, 8/6/2020 - Fri, 8/7/2020


New Gravity Housing Conference: Climate Change and the Imperative of High Performance Affordable Housing

In response to COVID-19 and our effort to keep our communities as healthy and safe as possible, the New Gravity Housing Conference is taking place virtually. 


For this fourth annual event - Green Building United is excited to be partnering with Illinois Green Alliance!

The reality of climate change will fundamentally alter the way buildings are designed, built, and operated in the coming decades.

At the same time, the need for quality affordable housing that can withstand increasingly extreme and volatile weather continues to grow. Building healthy, safe, and accessible places to live that will both limit and adapt to climate impacts is a key challenge for the 21st century. This cutting edge conference will explore the tools, techniques, and practices that the building community is using to address this challenge. 

Important Dates

  • Sponsorship + Expo Opportunities: Available now! Contact Margaret Salamon, Green Building United Development Director, if interested. 

  • Call for Sessions: Closed - all submitters will be notified in June. 



  • Early Bird Tickets: On sale early June

  • Regular Tickets: On sale late June


Select the image below to view last year's program

Call for Sessions

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The session submission form has closed. Thank you to everyone who submitted a proposal! We will be contacting all submitters in June.

Session Proposal Guidance

  • Focus: Preference will be given to sessions that focus on multi-family, affordable housing projects, and/or those that have lessons learned that can be applied to such projects. This may include, but is not limited to research, standards, practices, processes, and built projects around: 
    • Affordable Housing 
    • Funding Strategies 
    • Multi-family Housing 
    • Net-zero Energy 
    • Occupant Health and Wellness 
    • Passive House
    • Policies, Codes, and Standards
    • Resilient Communities 
    • Retrofits and Existing Buildings 


  • Projects: If you are submitting a project-based session, preference will be given to those that are complete, certified, and have performance data. 


  • Session Length: In the session proposal form, submitters can indicate whether their session can be 30, 45, and/or 60 minutes long.  The New Gravity Steering Workgroup may request selected sessions to modify timing with guidance and support from Green Building United and Illinois Green Alliance staff.  


  • Session Style: Sessions may be structured traditionally (three presenters and a moderator) or creatively styled (PechaKucha, for example). 


  • Speaker Best Practices: Green Building United and Illinois Green Alliance will be providing guidance for selected sessions on best practices for speakers and presentations, including how-to assistance with the online delivery platform.  


If you have any questions about the call for sessions, please contact Leah Wirgau or Katie Kaluzny.


Registration & Tickets

A limited number of early bird tickets will be on sale in early June (members-only) then open to all in mid June. Regular tickets go on sale late June. 

Green Building United and Illinois Green Alliance Members: $75 Early Bird / $150 Regular

Non-Members: $175 Early Bird / $250 Regular

Note that $100 Chapter Membership covers the difference between the non-member and member rates!


Interested in showcasing your company's commitment to- and investment in high-performance buildings?

 Join us as a sponsor! Please contact Margaret Salamon at Green Building United or Brian Imus at Illinois Green, if interested in more information.  

Thank You to Our Sponsors

Conference History

It all started with Passive House and PHFA...

In the Spring of 2014, a group of approximately 25 stakeholders gathered in Harrisburg, PA to propose to the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA), the organization responsible for all Low Income Housing Tax Credit - LIHTC - Federal funding for affordable housing in the state, that they initiate a project which would have all affordable housing in Pennsylvania be designed and constructed to a Net-Zero-Energy-Capable standard by 2030. 

PHFA was already looking to “raise the bar” with respect to energy efficiency as developers had been surpassing their standards for years. PHFA welcomed the challenge and within four months put the project in motion by introducing language into their 2015 Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) which incentivizes developers interested in 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) funding to design/construct their projects to meet the rigorous Passive House Standard. Read more about the National Net-Zero-Energy Initiative. And check out this recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article on the subject. 

The vision has been to replicate these efforts across states and within their HFA's, scaling the work quickly to have maximum effect on climate change impact reduction.

How does this relate to the conference? 

The concept of the New Gravity Housing Conference was realized by Tim McDonald of Onion Flats (who initiated the above proposal to PHFA) and David Salamon of Re:Vision Architecture, together with Green Building United. The goal was, and is, to bring affordable housing developers, financers, architects, designers, and other key stakeholders together to discuss how to design and build high-performance, net-zero, passive, multi-family housing, that can be achieved affordably due to PHFA's revised QAP.

New Gravity?

We do not question the Law of Gravity when building. In that vein, we should not question climate change and its impacts on people and the built environment, and should adjust our actions accordingly. In other words, climate change is the "new gravity."

Where we are today. 

In the fourth iteration of this important conference, we are excited to continue our discussion of plans and projects happening across North America and beyond. By looking at the larger picture of why these topics are relevant, and reviewing project data for lessons learned, we are growing our collective ability to build with efficiency and equity in mind.

Organizers & Steering Workgroup

About Green Building United 

Green Building United promotes the development of buildings that are sustainable, healthy for inhabitants, resilient, and cost effective. Through education, advocacy, and strategic initiatives Green Building United informs and engages individuals and organizations to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built, and operated. 

Learn more about Green Building United

About Illinois Green Alliance 

The Illinois Green Alliance is a membership driven, non-profit that works to promote green buildings and sustainable communities.

Illinois Green believes that green infrastructure is key to strengthening neighborhoods and improving the quality of life for everyone. 

Learn more about Illinois Green Alliance

Steering Workgroup

Timmy Aziz | Tom Bassett-Dilley | Krista Egger | Scott Farbman | Tony Holub | Connor Jansen | Jon Jensen | Hank Keating | Katrin Klingenberg | Tim McDonald | Kelly Moynihan | Monte Paulson | Maria Quinonees | David Salamon | Ellen Sargent

Legacy Partners

Platinum Partners

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