2023 IES Annual Conference keynote speakers to deliver intrigue and inspiration

July 19, 2023
The Aug. 3-5 event will take place at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center, outside of Chicago.

The 2023 IES (Illuminating Engineering Society) Annual Conference is around the corner with an exciting line-up of speakers, workshops, and educational sessions supporting the theme of “Light Responsibly.” Happening Aug. 3-5 (with two workshops on Aug. 2) at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center in Schaumburg, a northwestern suburb of Chicago, the event will focus “on the responsibility that the lighting industry has to itself, to the architectural and construction industry, and to the world at large to ensure that lighting has a net positive impact on the built environment,” according to the IES. Two keynote sessions announced in late June will start the conference with a tale of intrigue and end it with an inspiring call to action.

Keynote sessions

On Aug. 4, Ellen Shubart will deliver the opening keynote, “Devil in the White City,” which promises to delight “history buffs and true crime lovers.” The one-hour talk will delve into the true story told in Erik Larson’s best-selling novel The Devil in the White City (Crown Publishers, 2003), which “traverses two simultaneous events in Chicago’s history: the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 and the emergence of serial murderer Dr. Henry H. Holmes,” according to the session description. Shubart will begin her presentation with period photographs of the exposition, also known as the 1893 World’s Fair, and its central characters. Attendees will also hear the latest scholarly research into Holmes’ reign of terror. “Those who have read Erik Larson’s book will learn more about the circumstances surrounding the Fair and Dr. Holmes; those who haven’t will find this tour to be a fascinating introduction to the 1893 World’s Fair and the evil Dr. Holmes.”

Shubart is a lifelong Chicagoan and docent at the Chicago Architecture Center whose professional background spans multiple disciplines. She was a journalist for two decades, a college instructor, and then an advocate for sustainable city planning. A historian by training, she holds advanced degrees in U.S. history and historic preservation and has authored four books, all on the history of the city of Chicago and its surrounding cities.

On Aug. 5, Eric Corey Freed will deliver the closing keynote, “Symbiosis—Designing the Healthiest Buildings on Campus by Using Biology.” The session will challenge designers to “[i]magine a building that can boost immune response, lower blood pressure, or speed collaboration efforts”—essentially a building that can support and boost occupant biology. Freed will discuss how buildings can trigger “specific physiological responses in students and staff using physiological systems, human senses, circadian rhythm, neurotransmitters, and microbiomes,” as well as “next-generation materials … to introduce a radical approach to wellness.”

Based in Portland, Ore., Freed is a principal and the director of sustainability at CannonDesign, where he leads the health care, education, and commercial teams in designing low-carbon, healthy, and regenerative buildings. He was previously the founding principal of OrganicArchitect, vice president at the International Living Future Institute, and chief community officer at EcoDistricts. Freed is the author of 12 books, including Circular Economy for Dummies (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which he co-authored with Kyle Ritchie.

Plenary sessions

The IES Conference will also host five plenary sessions covering a variety of topics on lighting during the mornings of Aug. 4–5. These sessions are “Master Planning Light for Environment & Social Justice,” by Dane Sanders and Nick Mesler; “How We Are Thinking Differently About Outdoor Lighting These Days,” by Shirley Coyle; “Light and Human Health: The Things The Design Community Needs to Know,” by Kimberly Mercier; “Temporal Light Modulation (‘Flicker’): What Does It Look Like, What Are the Health Impacts, and a Proposal For Fixing It,” by Naomi Miller and Lia Irvin; and “Changing Behaviors,” by Ruth Taylor.

Attendees are eligible to receive one continuing education unit at each keynote and plenary session, among other breakout sessions.

The 2023 IES Annual Conference will take place Aug. 3-5, with workshops on Aug. 2. Click here for registration information, full conference line-up, and event details.

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In January 2024, Architectural SSL evolved to LightSPEC. While the name changed, the editorial focus -- writing and developing audience-first content about architectural lighting in the built environment for architects, interior designers, lighting designers and manufacturers, and specifiers of commercial and residential lighting and controls -- remains the same.