ADVANCE with USGBC

Emerging Professional Jacqueline Langhals writes about her experience at Convergence 2015, USGBC Conference in San Diego.

On June 28, USGBC kicked off Convergence, its national conference, in San Diego, CA. USGBC Central Ohio had three representatives, (Lisa Laney, Leah Morgan, and myself) able to attend and network with other USGBC members from across the globe. This was my first time experiencing USGBC on a national level--and the experience was life-changing. Never before have I been surrounded by so many passionate, intelligent, and driven individuals all trying to better the world by making our built environment more sustainable. The four days were filled with business meetings, forums, presentations, awards, hands-on sustainability projects, and inspiring conversations. It was emphasized that USGBC is not just an organization, but a movement. I must say, if the world is filled with more people like I met at Convergence, this movement is only going to continue to grow. I attended Convergence as a member of the Emerging Professionals National Committee (EPNC) to learn about USGBC’s new product: ADVANCE. ADVANCE is a platform of products to help all communities and ADVANCE participants gain access to USGBC’s professional network and resources. Simply put, it connects skilled volunteers with community-based organizations in under-served areas in order to truly promote green building to all. It is USGBC’s vision that “buildings and communities will regenerate and sustain the health and vitality of all life within a generation.” ADVANCE is our way to continue working toward that goal of bringing green buildings to everyone. It provides opportunities for those new to the industry to gain experience and learn more about sustainable practices. For those that have been in the industry longer, it gives them a chance to give back to a cause that they care deeply about. For the community organizations (i.e. non-profits, community centers, faith-based organizations, etc.), it enables them to build and operate a sustainable building that they would not have had the resources to do before. There is a place for everyone with ADVANCE. advance-imageMy experience at Convergence has led me to be even more excited to help this movement. If you are interested in being a part of ADVANCE or know of a local project and/or person that could benefit from ADVANCE, please contact me at jacquelinel@ma-architects.com.  

Member Spotlight: James Davidson, Smoot Construction

USGBC: Which came first – your interest in sustainable building or your professional career? JD: My professional career came first with a degree in Project Management. I have been Involved with numerous LEED projects( Several school projects and the Hollywood Casino) which led the way for my interest to become a LEED Green Associate . USGBC: What kind of opportunities do you see in your work for developing more sustainable built environments? JD: I see several project opportunities. It appears more and more clients are looking for LEED components in their projects (government agencies, public, and some private clients). They are looking for more efficiency with their HVAC systems and energy use. They are more interested in following good practices, using Commissioning, to insure getting a better product, and efficiently running mechanical systems. USGBC: What motivated you to become a USGBC member? JD: When I began studying to be a LEED Green Associate, I was also encouraged to do so by my company. USGBC: What do you enjoy most about being a USGBC chapter member? JD: The activities, and the networking with other companies, businesses and contractors. And, the opportunity to meet new clients. USGBC: What is the best connection or relationship you’ve made through USGBC? JD: People working within the construction community communicating about what makes a successful building for everybody. Sharing the common goals to provide an efficient building for the owner. USGBC: What do you see as the greatest challenge for developing a sustainable environment? JD: Education. Getting owners to understand that the cost factor is not nearly as high as they perceive it to be. You have to perform a life cycle analysis to fully understand the cost over the life span of the building for various components. Example: Flushless urinals may be less expensive over the life span of the building than conventional urinals when you factor in the cost for the water not utilized per flush. USGBC: What environmental element would you like to see implemented in every project? JD: Commissioning of HVAC Systems. USGBC: How do you spend your time away from work? JD: Ride my bike a lot, visit different colleges for my son and spend time with my church. USGBC: What topic would you like to see discussed at an upcoming Lunch and Leaders meeting? JD: Information on permeable pavements, cost comparisons to other pavements and its long-term benefits .    

Member Spotlight: David Hull

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Assistant Director, Department of Development, City of Columbus
Green Columbus Fund Member, Mayor Coleman's Green Team

USGBC: Which came first – your interest in sustainable building or your professional career?
I have had an interest since I went to the first Earth Day conference in Washington DC in 1970 as a AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer and I have been involved in transportation issues since I worked as Director of Essex County, NJ Department of Planning and Economic Development.
USGBC: What kinds of opportunities do you see in your work for developing a more sustainable built environment?
I manage the Green Columbus Grant Program that can help offset some costs associated with brownfield redevelopment and LEED certification. I also help manage the city's Pay as we Grow and Grow with a Plan and the implementation of the Big Darby Accord so I help manage environmentally and economically sustainable growth in Columbus.
 
USGBC: What motivated you to become a USGBC chapter member?
I became aware of the economic and environmental importance of green buildings, and the USGBC chapter gives me an opportunity to share my work and interact with like minded people in the business.
 
USGBC: What is the best connection or relationship you’ve made through USGBC?
Jeremy Cohen, he has been a very helpful resource while developing the Green Columbus Fund program and beyond.
USGBC: What do you do for fun outside the office? I like to read history and mysteries and I like to play touch football basketball.
 

Member Spotlight: Kurt Smith

  1. Name: Kurt Smith Industry: Construction Organization: Turner Construction Company Committee: Board of Directors, Governance Committee, Volunteer Manager LEED AP Since: 2005

    Name: Kurt Smith
    Industry: Construction
    Organization: Turner Construction Company
    Committee: Board of Directors, Governance Committee, Volunteer Manager
    LEED AP Since: 2005

    How did you become interested in sustainable design/construction? Back in 2004 when I first learned about green building concepts, I attended a couple of training sessions about USGBC and LEED. I was interested in learning more so I decided to pursue the LEED AP credential. I remember reading most of the old LEED-NC Reference Guide while traveling, and it became obvious to me that promoting sustainable design and construction was the right thing to do. So I passed the LEED AP exam and then started looking for ways to learn more and promote green building in Central Ohio.
  2. Why did you decide to join the USGBC? Well, back in 2005 there wasn’t any opportunity to join USGBC as an individual, since there wasn’t a chapter in Central Ohio. There were other green building groups and events, but nothing formally connected to USGBC. So I got involved in some of the earliest discussions about starting a USGBC chapter here from 2006 to 2008, when the formal process of organizing an official chapter started. I was very active in starting the chapter, because I felt that a larger organization that was formally backed by the USGBC National organization could have more impact in advancing USGBC’s mission, and sustainable design in general.
  3. What are the biggest benefits of being involved with the USGBC COH? There are numerous benefits. The programs and educational opportunities provided by the USGBC Central Ohio Chapter have always been very interesting, informative and well presented. I try to attend as many of the monthly Lunch and Leaders and quarterly Buildings in Action tours as I can, because it’s great to learn from other professionals in our industry who face similar challenges and come up with innovative solutions for their projects. The annual Design Columbus event – presented by the USGBC COH Chapter and the CSI Columbus Chapter – continues to grow and get better each year. Though I think the greatest benefits are the personal and professional relationships that come from networking and being actively involved with the chapter.
  4. As an industry professional, do you have a particular interest or bring a specific expertise to the LEED rating systems? I’m most interested in the Energy and Indoor Environmental Quality sections of the LEED rating systems. HVAC systems fascinate me, and they are a large component of the cost of building construction projects. I also think daylight and views are critical in nearly all building types – to improve employee productivity, patient outcomes, student learning, etc. – so it’s interesting to see how architects address those challenges and opportunities with their designs. As an example, the Columbus Metropolitan Library just opened the new Driving Park branch, a project I was involved with through the preconstruction phase. It was really rewarding to walk through the completed building to see how much daylight and views to the outdoors were available to the children in the neighborhood who will be using that library for years as a place to learn. What a huge improvement from how libraries were designed in the past.
  5. How do you spend your time away from USGBC and work? My wife (Annemarie) and I are into outdoor activities, and I really enjoy running and cycling. We also like spending time with friends, including the really great friends we’ve made from our involvement with the chapter. And I love the local craft brews that are available in our area, Columbus has become a hub for high quality beer.

Member Spotlight: Carmine Russo, Jr., ASLA, LEED AP BD+C

Carmine Russo, Jr., ASLA, LEED AP BD+C LEED AP Since: 2008 Landscape Architecture/Urban Design Firm: NBBJ

USGBC:  How did you become interested in sustainable design/construction? CR:  I’ve always been interested in efficiency in design, so I began to think about how we can promote a built environment that maximizes its use of a minimum amount of energy and resources. We now have the ability with new technologies to determine if we can reduce energy use through building modeling scenarios without investing large amounts of time or money.

USGBC:  Were your career goals always environmentally driven? CR:  As a landscape architect, I do feel that in some way I have always been interested in the environment and all that surrounds us. The built environment, within cities in particular, has always been an important element of my thinking about what our profession means to me.

USGBC:  Why did you decide to join the USGBC? CR:  After working on a number of LEED projects, I began to see the importance of green buildings to the marketplace and the impact they can have on a campus or even an entire city. In that regard, I felt as though I should be participating in the group that seemed to be leading the way in this effort.

USGBC:  What topic(s) would you like to see discussed at an upcoming Lunch & Leaders meeting? CR:  I believe that one of our greatest challenges, but best opportunities as green building professionals, is to help educate the public about the benefits of what we do. I would like to see us focus on more programs that give us the tools to express those points to our clients and others we may encounter to allow us to be better ambassadors for these ideas.

USGBC:  What are some projects your most proud of? CR:  During my time in Cleveland, I had the opportunity to work with the Cleveland Clinic on several projects at their main campus. Many of these projects pursued LEED certification in conjunction with renowned design landscape architect Peter Walker. It was a learning experience that I will not forget from both the professional side and also the client side. A well informed, forward thinking client can have a profound effect on these design outcomes, from a campus master plan to building implementation.

USGBC:  As an industry professional, do you have a particular interest or bring a specific expertise to the LEED rating systems? CR:  As a landscape architect, I would like to bring more expertise to the sustainable sites and water efficiency credits within the LEED rating system. Many of the credits that seem to have good intentions relate to specific site elements that do not reflect an overall vision, and do not provide sustainable landscapes for the end user in my view. I believe that the involvement of the ASLA Sustainable Sites Initiative might help to improve the overall rating system. A recent partnership between ASLA and GBCI has been announced: http://www.asla.org/sites.aspx

USGBC:  What environmental element would you like to see implemented in every project? CR:  I would like to see an educational component implemented into every green building project. It is a wonderful achievement to receive a LEED certification and to place the glass plaque in a building lobby, but this does nothing to explain to the average user what innovations have been achieved in this environment. Education is the key component to me, and we need to make this mainstream to the public.

USGBC:  Are you a part of any other professional organizations? CR:  As chapter president of the Ohio Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), we are embarking on a Public Relations campaign within the state to express to the general public the benefits of our profession. In my view, if we band together more closely with our allied organizations such as AIA, APA, ULI, etc., I think we will all have a better opportunity to reach those that are the decision makers in policy, development and construction with our green building message.

Member Spotlight: Lois Hall

How did you get involved with USGBC? My husband co-owns an energy conservation company, WattWorks, Inc, and often works with Tyler Steele.  We recognized the link between the public health sector and the design and construction sector.  We knew there is so much potential in getting involved with the USGBC, and I’m so glad to have joined the effort!   Tell me about your background and your career. I’ve been working in public health for over 30 years.  For many years, I worked at the Ohio Department of Health, and, in 2008, I took a position with the Ohio Public Health Association, a non-profit professional association.  I love working at the association because in my role I get to reach across all aspects of public health rather than focusing solely on one specific area.   How does sustainability apply to your work? Sustainable design seems like a new concept in public health, but it is rich with overlaps to the kinds of design strategies and philosophies in sustainable buildings.  “Healthography” is the theme for this year’s national public health conference of the American Public Health Association.  It speaks to the philosophy that place matters in one’s health and the public’s health.  In public health and in the design and construction industry, the environments where we live, work, play, and go to school all matter.   How we drive, where we walk and whether there are green spaces -  these are all things that impact people’s health.   Why is it important to you to get involved with USGBC? Public health is just beginning to emerge with the idea health issues and practices are interlinked with the building industry. The building industry is well on its way to understanding and communicating the health impacts of buildings. By tapping into each other as resources, the world of public health can move beyond a silo’ed approach to disease control, obesity prevention, sanitation standards, etc. We can see health more comprehensively across sectors and strengthen the effort even more.   What do you look forward to doing as the newest member of the USGBC Central Ohio Board? I see my role as two-fold. 1) I wish to see what is going on in the building industry and form partnerships between design and construction and public health. 2) I then want to find ways for the public health industry to take action to support the things that the building industry is doing and vice versa. I’m full of ideas and just want to talk about them with people to see what sticks and what doesn’t.   What are some projects your most proud of or excited to complete? We’ve already begun to make connections and see progress. The USGBC-COH had an exhibit at our annual Ohio Public Health conference this year for the first time. We are pleased to see how quickly we could move to make the exhibit a success. We are also partnering with USGBC-COH to provide continuing health education credits for the August 15 Green Schools Rally for public health professionals. We’re planning webinars for nurses on sustainable buildings and design. There are just so many nontraditional directions we can go, the opportunities seem endless. I don’t know where we’ll go, but we’ve got to push to get there. The world demands it now.   What is your vision for a healthy community in the next decade? Lots of green space, less cars, bluer skies with less pollution and carbon generating contraptions, more people walking and biking, people working closer to where they live and vice versa, healthier happier people. Thirty years ago when I started working, I had no idea what the future would be, but I’ve learned how important it is to keep your eyes open. I see organizations like the USGBC as visionaries with their eyes open to the future, and I hope to help public health professionals open their eyes to see where your tools, techniques and principles can be applied to make healthier communities. We seem to be at a plateau in public health, moving along with well-established practices. But now we need to look for what we can do in the community to make it easier for people to be healthy. I’m so encouraged to see young people entering the building-design workforce with good ideas and such a passion for this topic. They get it. So my job is to find that counterpart in the public health world who gets it too and to build that bridge between the two.   What do you see as the greatest challenges for developing a sustainable built environment? From the public health perspective, I think the greatest challenge and barrier is adding one more thing to the list of things that pubic health does. They can’t give up what they already do, and they can’t give up resources to do this. It’s always difficult to convince people that something new needs to be given a fair time and resources. The green building side seems to be ready and willing to help. The other challenge is policy makers. Many are tied to traditional funders and helping them realize that this is a good thing for policy too is an uphill battle. How do we compete with the big energy, and lobbyists, and convince people that being sustainable is good for communities, good for public health, and good for business?   If you could get a message out to everyone in the design and construction industry, what would it be? Find someone in your local health department who cares about sustainable design issues, whether it is a nurse, an educator, the health commissioner, or whoever. Introduce yourself and talk about our common cause for making healthy communities.   If you could get a message out to public health professionals everywhere, what would it be? Think outside the box. This is a wonderful opportunity to work with new partners. In the USGBC I see bright, young people that are going to help us build a healthier world.   Any closing thoughts? I want to say thank you to the USGBC-COH members for reaching out; for being so welcoming and patient when there are things that we are doing, saying, thinking about while I come up to speed on what they mean. It’s a new language to some extent as we make these connections. It’s fun to work with people that are fun to work with!  

Member Spotlight: Tarah Clark

Tarah Clark works with Limbach Company LLC.

Tarah Clark works with Limbach Company LLC.

USGBC: Which came first - your interest in sustainable building or your professional career? TC: Professional career came first for me. Being in the industry I have experience with LEED and sustainable building but my motivation for joining was to grow my network. USGBC: What kinds of opportunities do you see in your work for developing a more sustainable built environment? TC: Limbach is an energy conscience mechanical firm. We are always looking for ways to assist our clients in choosing the more efficient equipment options when they decide to undertake a project. From large projects such as new chillers or boilers and even changes as small as air filters we focus on sustainability and saving operational costs by being as energy efficient as possible. USGBC: What motivated you to become a USGBC chapter member? TC: I wanted to be more involved in my local construction community and I felt that the educational offerings would be beneficial. USGBC: What do you enjoy most about being a USGBC chapter member? TC: The opportunity to network with other industry professionals. USGBC: What is the best connection or relationship you've made through USGBC? TC: The associates of The Ohio State University. USGBC: What do you see as the greatest challenge for developing a sustainable built environment? TC: Cost associated. USGBC: What environmental element would you like to see implemented in every project? TC: Controls for HVAC. USGBC: How do you spend your time away from work? TC: Running, reading, dog parks, volunteering and networking. Not in that order. USGBC: What topic would you like to see discussed at an upcoming Lunch & Leaders meeting? TC: Any topic related to mechanical systems.