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The Midwest Ecological Landscaping Association (MELA), in cooperation with the United States Green Building Council, will hold its annual conference at the Chicago Botanic Garden on February 26th, 2009, from 8:30 to 6.

Keynote speaker at the conference will be Lois Vitt Sale, LEED Accredited Professional (AP) architect and Director of Sustainability for Nelson Design Consortium. Ms. Vitt Sale will address issues related to the value and challenges of developing industry standards for sustainability. The featured speaker will be Garth Conrad, MELA President-elect and Environmental Chair of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, speaking on “What is a Sustainable Landscape?”

There will be a panel discussion on “Developing and Promoting Standards of Sustainability” featuring speakers from the U.S. Green Building Council, the Sustainable Sites Initiative, and MELA.

A special feature will be two round table discussions on elements of the conference theme, both on issues of sustainable landscaping such as irrigation, soil, construction materials, plants, and energy, as well as on elements of the industry such as design/build, maintenance, growers, plant health professionals, and retail.

The conference will be followed by a social hour from 4-6 p.m. with more opportunities for networking.

Conference fees are: Members: $120 in advance, $140 at the door; Non-members: $180 in advance, $200 at the door.

MELA is an organization of professionals in the landscaping industry who are dedicated to developing and promoting standards for sustainable landscaping.

Early registration by January 31st is strongly suggested. MELA members receive a discount on registration. Information about registration and membership is available at www.melaweb.org or by e-mailing info@melaweb.org.