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 .    

Grange Insurance Audubon Center


Located on the Whittier Peninsula of the Scioto River just south of downtown Columbus, Ohio, the Grange Insurance Audubon Center represents a catalyst for change by connecting urban youth with their natural environment. The LEED® Gold Audubon Center anchors the redevelopment of this one time brown field that has been the site of industrial facilities, warehouses and an automobile impound lot. The new 84 acre Scioto Audubon Metro Park site is a designated “important bird area” or IBA by the National Audubon Society because it is positioned on a major migratory bird flyway.

The 18,000 s.f. Audubon Center is a model for sustainable design and promotes the economic, health and aesthetic benefits of building green. The nature center celebrates the tension between contrasting elements — urban / natural, riverine / meadow and indoor / outdoor. The building’s massing, orientation, materials and mechanical systems work in concert to create an interactive facility for exploring environmental awareness, habitat restoration, conservation practices and sustainable strategies. The building is a study of architectural simplicity in building material and form, quietly nesting within its natural surroundings.

  • OWNER – Grange Insurance Audubon Center Columbus and Franklin County Metropolitan Park District City of Columbus, Department of Recreation and Parks
  • ARCHITECT - DesignGroup
  • MEP ENGINEER - Heapy Engineering, Inc.
  • STRUCTURAL ENGINEER - Shelley Metz Baumann Hawk, Inc.
  • CIVIL ENGINEER - Burgess & Niple, Ltd.
  • LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT - Kinzelman Kline Gossman
  • ENVIRONMENTAL CONSULTANTS - Williams Creek Consulting
  • GENERAL CONTRACTOR - Gutkencht Construction
  • EXHIBIT DESIGN - Kraemer Design + Production, Inc.


  • Vegetated roof
  • Geothermal ground-source heat pump system
  • Passive solar design
  • Mixed-mode ventilation
  • 50% less energy used than a conventional building
  • 88% of spaces are daylit
  • 7 Acres of brownfield remediated

Member Spotlight: David Hull


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.

OUR WATER (Olentangy Urban Rainscapes) Green Infrastructure Project

_DSC0119 Neighborhood of Weinland Park, Columbus Ohio, 2011-2014 Project Partners: Project Lead/Design – Integrity Sustainable Planning and Design Educational Partner – Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed Quantitative Assessment – MAD Scientist and Associates Qualitative Assessment – Diversified Data Installation – Oakland Nursery Maintenance – Monica Desenberg, Neighborhood Resident Developer – Wagenbrenner Company _DSC0224The OUR Water (Olentangy Urban Rainscapes) pilot project is located in an older low-income Columbus brownfield neighborhood currently being serviced by a combined sanitary and storm water sewer system. The project has been carefully crafted to educate Weinland Park neighborhood residents about practical approaches for reducing their watershed footprint and for taking personal ownership of the watershed where they live in a more sustainable way. Project elements include front yard rain gardens that accept roof rainwater into appropriately sized, slightly depressed planted bed areas filled with a permeable gravel/soil mix, reducing the flow of site water into storm drains and minimizing subsequent erosion, water pollution, flooding, and diminished groundwater. A selection of native and adaptive plants has been carefully chosen for their tolerance of a seasonally wet environment, absorption of water, and for their ability to attract local wildlife. These showy grasses, shrubs and flowering perennials offer a beautiful street-side view and provide increased water infiltration capacity. Homeowners have the opportunity to select from a palette of styles and colors with a professional landscape design team to add a custom touch to their front yard rain garden. _DSC0197Curbside Rain Gardens collect and filter storm water from front sidewalks and streets. These rain gardens, located between the curb and sidewalk, feature lush street side plantings installed in a below-grade permeable gravel/soil mixture used to maximize the absorption of the water nd the trapping of pollutants and silt. These bioswale plantings are both traditionally mulched and top-dressed with local river pebbles for additional aesthetic appeal.Pre- and post-installation qualitative assessment interviews have been conducted to gauge the neighborhoods opinion of the success of project. Ongoing quantitative data is being collected from in-ground monitoring equipment in the front yard and curbside rain gardens. Attractive rain barrels were furnished to participating homeowners, and maintenance was provided by a neighborhood resident through a job-training component of the project. _DSC0155This project was part of an urban housing redevelopment and neighborhood upliftment project funded by federal dollars through the Neighborhood Stabilization Project and by state dollars through an Ohio EPA Environment Education (OEEF) Grant. The project team presented this project at the International EcoSummit and the MORPC Summit in 2012 and at the National EPA Brownfields Conference in 2013. The project team is currently in conversation with the neighborhood and several funders to allow expansion of the OUR project in Weinland Park.    

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.

Ohio Leads the Nation With 150 LEED Certified Schools

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  Contact: Rick Savors, Media Relations Manager 614 466-7746 /   July 17, 2014 (COLUMBUS) – The State of Ohio continues to lead the nation in environmentally friendly public school facilities. Officials at the Ohio School Facilities Commission announced today that the Columbus Scioto middle-high school building (grades 6 through 12) in the Columbus City School District has become the 150th public education facility in Ohio to achieve certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED® green building rating system. With that certification, Ohio maintains its lead in the number of buildings certified, outdistancing California, its nearest competitor with 108 certified buildings. Another 190 Ohio school buildings are currently in design, under construction, or waiting on final word on their certification applications. LEED® (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) is a points-based rating system that focuses on environmentally-friendly design including energy and water efficiency, sustainable site development, material selection and indoor environmental quality. The LEED criteria rank schools (or buildings) at various levels including Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Starting in 2007, the OSFC has required that the design of each school building funded through the OSFC must seek Silver certification at a minimum with a goal of achieving Gold. The Columbus Scioto School was awarded a LEED Gold certification. Currently 3 Ohio schools have achieved the Platinum certification, 67 the Gold certification, 77 the Silver, and three (3) others have been Certified. OSFC Executive Director Richard Hickman called today’s announcement “Exciting and certainly a statement on how Ohio has embraced environmentally friendly design.” He went on to add that “these projects, which represent a commitment to both our school children and the future of our environment, are the direct result of innovative team work from architects, construction managers, trade contractors, and our project partners, the local school districts. I commend them for their accomplishments.” The Columbus Scioto building is designed to create an atmosphere of educational stimulation while providing significant operational cost savings. For example, the building maximizes the use of natural sunlight to reduce lighting costs and incorporates a state-of-the-art geothermal heating and cooling system that will save energy costs for the district. Overall, data from Ohio’s 150 LEED certified schools show the buildings are designed to be 33 percent more energy efficient and use an average of 39 percent less water than buildings built to previous standards. The LEED schools also provide a healthier indoor environment for the students and staff. A complete listing of the LEED schools can be found on the OSFC website ( or at the newly launched Ohio Collection in the Green Building Information Gateway (GBIG) at

Green Schools Research Fellows

Ohio's 2007 mandate that all publicly-funded school construction projects achieve LEED Silver certification (or better) offered the USGBC Central Ohio Chapter an incredible opportunity to quantify the value that sustainably designed, constructed, and operated schools confer to building occupants, specially the students, and to the larger environment. In partnership with experts at Battelle, we have undertaken a research program with the goal of answering the question, ‘Do green schools, which are just green buildings, matter?’ Over the past 18 months, USGBC Central Ohio’s first Green Schools Research Fellow in Education, Ms. Shanell Davis, sought to determine the impact (if any) that sustainable building design and construction have on educational outcomes such as student test scores, attendance, and rates of disciplinary actions in Ohio’s K-12 public schools. To conduct her research, Ms. Davis collected data from a subset of Ohio’s LEED schools (of which there are nearly 150 as of June 2014) and from Ohio’s traditionally designed schools, data that included the aforementioned educational outcomes, the LEED credits achieved at the sustainably designed schools, and socioeconomic and demographics data of the students. We are presently preparing a manuscript for submittal to the Journal of Environmental Psychology that describes the findings from our research thus far.


Mr. Bruce Underwood, the Chapter’s second Green Schools Research Fellow in Education, was hired in May 2014 to continue Ms. Davis’s research. He just earned his Masters of Environmental Studies at Ohio University, where his thesis focused on the assessment of teacher and principal attitudes towards environmental education in the Logan-Hocking School District in southeastern Ohio. Mr. Underwood will add data from the 2013-2014 school year to Ms. Davis’s dataset, and will seek to understand if there is an association between educational outcomes and attainment of LEED credits in specific credit categories, such as indoor environmental quality. He is also planning to expand Ms. Davis’s analysis to include schools that were certified under both LEED v2007 and v2009.


Starting this fall, Ms. Katrina Staker will begin her role with the USGBC Central Ohio Chapter as the inaugural Green Schools Research Fellow for Energy. Katrina is finishing a Master's degree in Renewable and Clean Energy at the University of Dayton. With guidance from her mentor, Dr. Kevin Hallinan, Director of UD’s Building Energy Center, Ms. Staker will be working to see if Ohio’s LEED schools conserve energy compared to traditionally designed and constructed schools, and to quantify the financial benefit (if any) that such conservation conveys.

Project Profile LEED Platinum Hocking College Energy Institute

hocking-energy-.104117OWNER – Hocking College
ARCHITECT - DesignGroup
MEP ENGINEER - Heapy Engineering, Inc.
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER - Shelley Metz Baumann Hawk, Inc.
GENERAL CONTRACTOR - Robertson Construction Services

View the complete project profile in PDF format.

  The Hocking College Energy Institute, located on the Logan campus of Hocking College, is the State of Ohio’s first LEED® Platinum educational building. The project received a total of 56 out of 69 points encompassing each category of LEED NC 2.2. It earned more points than any other project in the State of Ohio under the LEED NC rating system. The building uses less than half the energy of a conventional building the same size and use. It also meets the AIA 2030 Challenge for energy efficiency.

Designed in a BIM environment, this 12,200 square foot facility serves as the flagship building for Hocking College’s growing Advanced Energy, Fuel Cell, and Vehicular Hybrid programs. Alternative energy vehicles can be fueled using the facility’s compressed natural gas refueling station and electric vehicle plug-in refueling stations. The facility houses a variety of curriculum spaces for sustainable technologies and is designed to engage students in a hands-on learning process. The building’s mechanical and electrical systems are visible and function as learning tools for students. The passive solar design reduces cooling loads in the summer & heating loads in the winter. Additionally, bioswales & extended detention ponds reduce storm water runoff. And to top it all off, using native Ohio prairie plants throughout the site, the facility also includes a 4,000 s.f. green roof planted with native vegetation that reduces storm water runoff.

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:

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.

Sponsor Spotlight: DesignGroup

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Interview with Sherm Moreland, CEO, DesignGroup

USGBC:   How long has your firm been in business and where are your offices located?

SM:  This year marks our 42-year anniversary. Our offices are located downtown at 515 East Main Street. We are a local firm that provides services nationally.

USGBC: How many LEED AP work at your firm?

DesignGroup’s technical staff includes 23 LEED APs. We have a legacy of sustainable design that dates back to our firm’s beginning. We received our first AIA Design Award for a building designed according to sustainable principles in 1975. Our team strives to design buildings that contribute to the long-term sustainability of their contexts. Two of our colleagues in particular, Jack Hedge and Keoni Fleming, lead us in our efforts. Jack Hedge, design principal at DesignGroup, is a nationally recognized pioneer for sustainable design. In 2009, Jack was elevated to the AIA College of Fellows for his contribution to the practice of architecture in the area of sustainable design. He is a chairman and founder of the AIA Columbus Committee on the Environment and serves on the Board of Green Energy Ohio. Jack has received a number of sustainable design awards, including three Ohio Governor’s Awards for Energy Efficiency. Keoni Fleming, DesignGroup’s sustainability manager, has been a featured speaker for numerous presentations on sustainability, including DesignWeek Columbus, The Advisory Board, MORPC Summer of Sustainability, and Ohio Construction Conference. In addition to his role at DesignGroup, he is an adjust professor at The Ohio State University and served as the lead architectural faculty advisor for OSU’s 2009 and 2011 Solar Decathlon houses.

USGBC: What is the main benefit to you and your firm as a result of being involved in the USGBC-Central Ohio Chapter?

We find great value in the continuing education opportunities that the chapter offers. Our staff is able to maintain its LEED credentials by attending the quality programs that the USGBC provides. In addition, we gain exposure to trends and best practices, and access to networking with experts and like-minded professionals in our industry. We are proud to be associated with such a strong chapter and feel it is our duty to give back by adding value through heavy involvement in the chapter’s committees and programs.

USGBC: What types of projects are you focusing on right now?

It’s an exciting time at DesignGroup! We are currently working on the Columbus Museum of Art expansion and renovation project, which is pursuing LEED certification. Columbus is a great city, and we are honored to be a part of expanding one of its civic and cultural icons. Similarly, we are also working with the City of Columbus on a project in the heart of downtown, 111 Front Street, a facility that will bring many of the city’s departments under one roof, significantly improving their efficiency. We are in the works with Columbus City Schools on the Columbus Spanish Immersion Academy, a unique program that will serve students grades Pre-K through 6th. This August, a project we recently completed for CCS, Columbus Scioto 6-12, will host the Ohio Green Schools Rally 2014. This event is dedicated to the discussion of why green schools matter. Our colleagues who worked on the project will lead tours of the new facility, which is pursuing LEED gold certification and meets the performance standards of the 2030 Challenge.

USGBC: What future trends do you see in sustainability?

Increasingly, we are seeing decision makers implement sustainability requirements. For instance, the Green Schools program that the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission adopted in 2007 requires that all new construction of K-12 schools meet LEED silver requirements. As a result, Ohio is the recognized national leader in sustainable school design. Columbus Metropolitan Libraries has implemented a building program called the 2020 Vision Plan, which includes seven new libraries and three renovations in Franklin County that will prioritize sustainable goals and strategies set by the library. As succeeding versions of LEED have become more stringent, owners, architects, engineers, and the construction trades have all stepped up to the plate, delivering buildings that meet these requirements. Sustainable design is becoming something that is part of the basic equation of designing and constructing buildings.

USGBC: What do you see as the greatest challenges for developing a sustainable built environment?

As LEED-certified buildings increase in market share, LEED standards are becoming more exacting. At times, this can be a challenge, particularly when balanced against other concerns such as budget, schedule, and constructability. We embrace the opportunity to deliver buildings that can meet all of these requirements. At the end of the day, it’s about designing and building good buildings. That is why we are in this profession.