I just locked down my hotel/flight/ticket to Greenbuild 2010 in Chicago, IL, and I can't be more excited! I'll be posting about the best sessions to attend later, but in my searches for places to stay I noticed the options were getting more limited every day and I wanted to give you a heads up...
Where to stay?
Last year in Phoenix I held out on getting a place till late, and definitely paid the price by being in the middle of nowhere (though everywhere seems to be the middle of nowhere in Phoenix). This year I promised myself that I wouldn't make the same mistake, and after a great deal of searching I settled on a hotel in the Loop near Grant Park about two blocks from the Metra line that will take me straight to the conference and a block from the L subway lines that connects me to everywhere else. I didn't realize it at first, but McCormick Place Convention Center is on the much less well connected Metra line, which doesn't really link with the more pervasive subway system. Just looking at Google maps it's kind of tough to tell, so buyer beware.
Will Kanye Make a Surprise Cameo? Will He Let R-Fed Finish?
McCormick Place is on the near south side of Chicago, and playing around with google street view convinced me I didn't really want to be stuck down there on the weekend. Most people I talked to said the best parts of Chicago are North of the Loop (the loop is supposedly dead at night), but that area would make it tough to commute to the conference. I split the difference and stayed at the loop with easy access to transit in both directions.
The USGBC has setup official lodging, but at this point theres nothing less than $240/night and everything really close is already booked. On the bright side, if you book through them you'll have access to a free shuttle to the convention. Last year the shuttles were open to everyone, but they've decided to limit it to guests staying at official destinations this year. For comparison's sake, I found my place for under $120/night, but that's about as cheap as it gets and I'm not exactly staying in the lap of luxury... On the other hand it's in the perfect location.
I took a serious look at so-called 'crash-padder' sites, which were recently profiled in the NY Times. Basically, people rent out their own apartments or rooms in their apartments for typically much less than you'd find comparable hotels. I looked around a few sites (scroll to the end of the NYT article for four of the bigger sites) and there were some pretty interesting options. If you own a business that's taking more than one person you could end up saving a great deal while getting everyone their own bedroom. It's not for everyone, but there are checks and balances in the system to make sure you don't get screwed. I ended up passing, but if I was going with 2-3 friends I definitely would have booked this way. It could also be a savior for anyone who's booking late.
Any Chicago area residents PLEASE comment about where to go, what to see, and where to stay! If what I've heard is wrong, definitely correct me!