"A balance sheet won't tell you if a green project is worth the investment. Instead, you need to look at its long-term value," said David Borchardt, director of sustainable development at The Tower Cos. In his presentation, Borchardt asserted that the cost/value analysis of today's green buildings must include non-tangible returns such as fewer sick days, lower turnover rates, and better rent investment growth. In addition, "people who know they work in a safe, healthy building are less likely to leave," he said.

Germán Brun of Oppenheim Architecture & Design kicked of the panel by discussing his company's cutting-edge work in green design. He emphasized the importance of balancing economic realities with the industry's ethical responsibility to take care of the land it develops.

In addition to the practical aspects of green building, the panel spent some time reviewing specific LEED programs available to developers. Steven Winter, the past chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council and founder of Steven Winter Associates, outlined the five existing LEED standards and described the USGBC's most recent addition?LEED-ND (Neighborhood Development). "LEED-ND is the only standard where you are certified before the project is complete," said Winter, referring to the standard's three-stage approval process that begins in the pre-zoning stage.