Text Size:

  • Increase
  • Decrease
  • Normal

Current Size: 100%

Sustainability meets the arts at a Las Vegas school (USGBC Nevada)

April 28, 2017
Feature image: 

Just north of the famous Strip, historic downtown Las Vegas is home to a school where the arts and sustainability are putting on quite a show of their own. Las Vegas Academy of the Arts (LVA) is a recent winner of the Nevada GREENFest Award for Green School Leadership, presented by USGBC Nevada and Green Alliance.

Located in the heart of old downtown, LVA is initiating an educational redevelopment across its campus. The public magnet school has more than 1,700 high school students majoring in dance, music, theater and theater technology, visual arts and more. In addition to their artistic accomplishments, students are committed to traditional academic pursuits, including environmental science. The school is a top performer in the Clark County School District; 85 percent of the class of 2016 plans to pursue higher education.

The Las Vegas Academy of the Arts.

Setting goals for environmental achievement

The LVA community hopes to make its facility a top performer as well. The original school building and gymnasium were built in the 1930s, with the main building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. According to parent and volunteer Greg Klund, “Our primary goal is to take the oldest public high school campus in Southern Nevada, and through a phased master plan, achieve the highest LEED rating for a public school in the state." They also hope to achieve the first net-zero-water school in the United States.

“We looked for projects that could best represent every aspect of our master plan, including LEED, STEM concepts, and all facets of renewable energy and water," said Klund. That intersection of master plan goals set the stage for six campus gardens, where science comes together with student and faculty art.

Led by AP environmental science teacher Jenny Valdez, LVA’s gardens started on a side patio outside her geo-science classroom, growing a few gourds in pots. Pretty soon, Valdez started getting donations from family, friends and local businesses to expand. When Klund saw what she was working with during a school open house, he wanted to help.

Klund rounded up a pallet full of water collection vessels that had been destined for landfills and brought them back to life at LVA. The vessels will collect and store stormwater runoff for use onsite. Students have helped refurbish and install the vessels, laying a foundation for a vibrant community garden on their campus, one that will eventually aid in their research.

Greg Klund works with water collection vessels.

“The students will be doing college-level research,” says Valdez, and she hopes the topics will be student-driven as they discover things in the garden. Starting next semester, students will be testing soil structures from native desert plants and studying rooftop landscaping, living walls and plant propagation. The gardens will use wind and solar energy to power landscape lighting and irrigation controllers and pumps.

“What’s different here is that we’re turning a historic, urban school into a garden, where most of the campus is concrete,” says Valdez. “Repurposing these containers into garden beds is so thoughtful, so practical, so forward-thinking. It’s changing the way people think about how to garden in cities.”

Partnering with the community

Thanks to a few key partners, the gardens are a focal point for the historic neighborhood. The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens donates plants from its past exhibitions. Thousands of plants once destined for the landfill are repurposed into LVA’s gardens and greenhouses, as well as distributed to other schools in the district. Employees from Vegas-based online retailer Zappos use LVA as a community garden and provide maintenance and planting support during the summer.

“The heart and soul of our renovation project is the fact that LVA also proudly represents the heart and soul of the Las Vegas community, and the unmatchable passion that our community leaders and their families have for our campus,” says Klund. “We anticipate our project will shatter the traditional model of sustainable public schools moving forward.”

Getting the garden started.

Las Vegas Academy would like to extend special thanks to its generous contributors and sponsors of the sustainable gardens, without whose involvement none of this would be possible: Ethos Environmental Group, Hill Clark Landscape Architects, Clark County School District (Grounds and Maintenance), Bellagio Horticulture Department, Zappos, Las Vegas Rock, Backwoods Solar, Home Depot, Gothic Landscape Environmental Division, Horizon Irrigation (Las Vegas), Hunter Industries, EcoRain USA, Star Nursery and Kalamazoo Materials.

Learn more about the GREENFest Award winners

Thank you to our volunteers (USGBC Ohio)

April 28, 2017
Feature image: 

Besides being Earth Month, April is also a very special month for USGBC Ohio as Volunteer Appreciation Month. As a volunteer-driven organization, USGBC Ohio relies on members and volunteers to help us reach our vision for a more sustainable Ohio. Through community service projects, advocacy initiatives, educational programming, tours, special events and school greening projects, our volunteers make our work possible.

Countless more volunteer hours are devoted behind the scenes in marketing, fundraising, and office support to help us achieve our vision. Just like the slogan "every day is Earth Day" we feel the same about our volunteers—every day is a day to appreciate and celebrate you. Without your help, quite simply, we wouldn't be here, and our work across Ohio wouldn't be possible.

Your leadership, support, expertise and service inspire us daily. It is an honor and privilege to work with you. Thank you again for your generous support of USGBC Ohio's work.

Read an interview with volunteer Lisa Laney

USGBC Arizona celebrates LEED projects at the 2017 Heavy Medals Awards Luncheon

April 28, 2017
Feature image: 

USGBC Arizona rang in Earth Week in style with the 2017 Heavy Medals Awards Luncheon. This annual awards ceremony celebrates the leadership of Arizona building owners, designers and construction professionals who achieve LEED certification.

Hosted on April 19 at the Salt River Project’s airy PERA Club, the luncheon was attended by close to 100 building professionals, sustainability advocates, and community leaders.

Mark Hartman, Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Phoenix, provided the keynote address. Shared information about the City of Phoenix’s far-reaching sustainability goals, Hartman challenged the audience to think about how they could contribute to a greener Arizona for all.

Mark Hartman speaks about sustainability.

The 2017 Arizona Leader Awards were presented to buildings that achieved LEED certification between June 1, 2015 and December 31, 2016. Projects were self-nominated, and award winners were selected by a local panel for excellence in design and building operations. The awards were presented by Lloyd Ramsey, Energy and Engineering Sector Leader, DLR Group and Co-Chair, USGBC Arizona Market Leadership Advisory Board; Sharon Bonesteel, Building Energy Codes Program Manager, Product Development, Salt River Project; and Patti Mason, Regional Director, Community—Mountain West Region, USGBC. 

Mason stopped by local radio station KJZZ after the ceremony to talk more about the awards and the importance of LEED certification. Listen to the story.

Congratulations again to the winners of this year’s 2017 Arizona Leader Awards. Read more about the winners.

  • Innovative Design, New Construction: Northern Arizona University Student and Academic Services Building
  • Climate Champion: Northern Arizona University International Pavilion
  • Community Champion: Sun Devil Fitness Complex, Downtown Phoenix Campus
  • Building Performance: University of Arizona Old Main Renovation
  • Green Schools: Phoenix Coding Academy
  • Judge’s Choice Award: Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona
  • People’s Choice Award: Phoenix Coding Academy

The Phoenix Coding Academy accepts their award.

Thank you to our event sponsors for their generous support: Salt River ProjectSite Solar and Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona.

Celebrating volunteers at USGBC Ohio, USGBC Tennessee and USGBC Greater Virginia

April 27, 2017
Feature image: 

In honor of National Volunteer Appreciation Week, USGBC interviewed several volunteers making a big impact at USGBC. Find current volunteer opportunities.

Lisa Laney, Sustainability Administrator, Ohio Facilities Construction Commission

Where did you grow up, and where are you located now?

I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, and currently reside in the same city. I bought a house right down the street from my mom after I was married. I spent a lot of time visiting my grandparents in Kentucky, where I developed my love of nature and the environment. I would explore the creeks and mountains while playing outside all day.

What drew you to volunteering with USGBC over other organizations?

I’ve been involved since 2007, when Ohio started requiring K–12 schools to be certified under the LEED rating system, meeting at least the Silver level. I jumped feet-first into the green schools program in 2009. When I took this position with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, my background was in construction, design and program development. I learned about the health and green side of building through exposure to the LEED for Schools rating system and the Center for Green Schools. Everything about the LEED rating system lends itself to more energy-efficient, healthy schools for children.

Children are our youngest resource, and they spend a lot of time in school. The more we can improve their indoor spaces, the better for their learning and the school’s operating budget. All the people involved with USGBC and the Center for Green Schools are what drew me to be more engaged. They’re all equally passionate about the mission, and it’s the right thing to do for our future generations.

What roles have you filled as a USGBC volunteer?

I’ve had various roles with the local community in Ohio. I've been the Green Schools Committee chair since 2010, served as a board member (chair and vice chair), and was the chair of the National Green Schools Committee. I currently sit on the Regional Leadership Team for USGBC Ohio.

I’ve also helped the Center for Green Schools with various projects, helped lead the Central Ohio Green Apple Day of Service initiative for several years and volunteered at several of the Mid-Year Meetings neighborhood projects. Finally, I’m an advocate on social media for USGBC and our green schools movement. We celebrate and share all our school certifications on Twitter.

What is your most proud accomplishment as a USGBC volunteer?

The growth of the local Green Apple Day of Service projects in Central Ohio. I was instrumental in working with the community and schools to jump-start the service day in Columbus a few years ago.  We have so many wonderful volunteers who come back every year and now we’re doing a number of projects. They ask what’s happening and what we need to make it happen. It’s a great sense of accomplishment when you can go by and see the kids sitting in a new outdoor learning area or playing in a garden you helped create.

What are you most excited about in the green building industry?

First and foremost, the green building industry is taking on an awareness where people are getting involved and people are doing their part to build better buildings. We still have a long way to go, but I’ve seen so much progress since 2009, and it’s encouraging to see people are learning and motivated to do better.

Second, something I hope to see continue to improve is energy storage. I feel a lot of green schools would like to have on-site renewable energy and strive to be net zero, but right now it’s a challenge due to energy storage. I think that once cost-effective battery storage solutions are more widely available, more schools and businesses will move to be net zero for their energy usage.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

A friend of mine once told me, “Keep celebrating the small stuff because sooner or later it becomes part of a much bigger story.” I remember this because it truly is a celebration of the small stuff that builds into the bigger actions or change, and motivates people into the next action. For example, we celebrate every school we certify in Ohio, and it’s grown into celebrating 50 schools, to 100 schools, and now we have 286 schools certified. People like to know they’ve done a good job. When we celebrate, it tells everybody we appreciate what they did and it’s meaningful, and can motivate them to achieve more.

Krissy Buck, Associate, Looney Ricks Kiss

Where did you grow up, and where are you located now?

Originally, I’m from St. Louis, Missouri, and lived there until I went to the University of Kansas to study architecture. After college, I lived in Kansas City for about three or four years, and then I moved to Memphis, which is where I am now. I’ve been here for about five and a half years.

How long have you been involved with USGBC?

I first learned about USGBC and got involved when I was in college. During my senior year in architecture studio, we designed and built the first LEED platinum building in Kansas. It was my studio class with 22 other classmates, and we divided up the LEED credits, with each person responsible for a different grouping of credits. One of mine was actually Construction Waste Management, and it was a big influence on how I approach this part of projects that I work on currently.

After graduation, I stayed in the green building realm by focusing on historic preservation and sustainable design projects. When I lived in Kansas City, I was part of the USGBC Central Plains community and kept my involvement by volunteering as part of the Memphis Regional Branch (past chapter) as part of the USGBC Tennessee community.

What roles have you filled as a USGBC volunteer?

I enjoy taking part locally, and I might someday take on a bigger role, like the local Market Leadership Advisory Board, but I enjoy working on the USGBC Tennessee Paper Power program. I’ve been a volunteer as part of the Memphis branch since I moved here about five years ago.

What is your most proud accomplishment as a USGBC volunteer?

Paper Power. This is our fifth year running the program and we’re still evolving it, but we’ve established it as a pretty solid program in the Memphis area. Paper Power is a competition for students of high school age. It could be a team of students from the same school, different schools or a ballet class or youth group, but the learning level is high school.

Teams design and build basically whatever they want made of recycled paper products. There’s an entire list of rules, including what kinds of paper and connectors they can use to build the structures. The students learn about recycling and material selection, and they also learn management and leadership skills. Last year, we expanded the program to include professional teams, and it added a layer of mentorship and learning between the students and professionals. I’m very proud of the success of the program and look forward to continuing its growth.

What are you most excited about in the green building industry?

I recently signed up to take the WELL AP exam, and it’s at the forefront of my mind since I’m studying. I like the idea that the WELL Building Standard takes human health in the built environment to the next level. I’m taking my exam in two months, and I’m excited to include this information in my practice.

If you could change one thing, what would it be and why?

I’m currently trying to slow down and be more mindful of the present. The other day, I saw my third rainbow in about a month, and I can’t remember the last time I saw a rainbow outside these three instances. It’s made me aware of the need to disconnect from technology and the feeling of being busy all the time, and to take time to stop and appreciate the world around me. I think maybe I could see more rainbows if I take more time to appreciate current moments and nature.

Nell Boyle, Sustainability/Outreach Coordinator, City of Roanoke

Where did you grow up, and where are you located now?

I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and after I met my husband we moved quite a bit in our early years of marriage. I lived in New Jersey for a bit, then Atlanta, Chicago, and back to Atlanta. During this time, I raised two small children and was mostly a stay-at-home mother. After a change in my husband’s employment, we settled in Roanoke, Virginia, and we’ve lived here ever since. It’s a beautiful, mountainous area—the natural environment in Roanoke is just stunning. We loved Roanoke and decided to stay, and it’s been a wonderful opportunity for me as my career truly blossomed as part of the environmental movement. I’m now the sustainability coordinator for the City of Roanoke.

How long have you been involved with USGBC?

My road to volunteering with USGBC started when my son was a senior in high school. He read the book “Cradle to Cradle” by Michael Braungart and William McDonough. He told me I needed to read the book, and it actually changed my life by giving me new perspective on environmental issues. My son made a call to action to challenge me to go beyond basics like recycling. Shortly thereafter, I volunteered to help run an international cradle to cradle design competition in Roanoke, with over 700 entries.

Gregg Lewis and a small group of individuals decided to create a nonprofit based on the cradle to cradle work, and he invited me to be part of this formation. We actually built one of the winning designs from the competition. When I started working for Gregg, I met Sharlyn Thacker, who was starting up a new USGBC community, and I joined the planning group to start the local nonprofit. Shortly after she stepped down, I stepped into the chair position in 2007. I’ve been an avid volunteer ever since.

What roles have you filled as a USGBC volunteer?

I’ve been the chair of the local chapter, and served on the board when we merged into a statewide chapter. I’ve been involved on the board or in some way locally since 2004. After I stepped down from being the chair, I joined the Southeast Regional Committee (SERC) as a representative for the USGBC Greater Virginia community. It was SERC that got me involved on different levels. I then became the chair of SERC and served on the Chapter Steering Committee (CSC). When I termed off of the CSC, I mentioned I was looking for the next step to Kimberly Lewis and Jason Dunlop, and they found me the opportunity to be part of the Special Programs Working Group for Greenbuild. That’s what I’ve done for the past couple years.

What is your most proud accomplishment as a USGBC volunteer?

The leadership development skills I got while working on the SERC and CSC was so powerful. To be head of SERC was humbling to me because of the leadership and talent of my fellow volunteers who were part of the group. I learned so much from them and am proud of the great work we all accomplished in support of our region.

What keeps you awake at night?

The amount of toxins and poor air quality in our schools, and the impact of indoor building material selection. I have great concern over the exposure to toxins to children, and we know how to solve this issue.

If you could change one thing, what would it be and why?

I would provide indoor air quality testing and mitigation to every school. I would get the toxic materials out of schools, preschools and day care facilities. I think that’s something we could really do as a community, and provide potential for our children to have a better start to life and a healthier life. Our health is so delicate and valuable.

Become a volunteer with USGBC

Energy Star and LEED work together for private-sector energy efficiency

April 27, 2017
Feature image: 

The Office of Management and Budget’s proposed federal budget for 2018 has put critical programs within the EPA in jeopardy. Among them is Energy Star, which has helped individuals and businesses save money and protect our environment through increased energy efficiency since 1992. Energy-efficient appliances, products and buildings that meet a high performance standard may earn the Energy Star label.

LEED and Energy Star

As an early adopter of energy performance standards, Energy Star helped pave the way for the development of USGBC’s LEED rating system. Buildings earn LEED certification upon meeting certain levels of energy efficiency, among other measures. In fact, LEED uses the Energy Star system to empower property owners and occupants with the tools they need to meet these requirements and earn additional credits.

Among the LEED prerequisites is a requirement to reduce indoor water consumption by reaching certain performance standards for appliances, which includes those labeled as Energy Star. In addition to products, Energy Star identifies energy-efficient buildings.

Energy Star gives users the tools they need to reach a higher level of building energy performance, therefore positioning them closer to the standards required for LEED certification. In short, Energy Star helps make LEED possible.

There are many LEED-certified buildings in the private sector that also reach high Energy Star standards for buildings. Here are just a few examples:

Creekside West: Lakewood, Colorado

Creekside West offers affordable housing for adults 62 and older. It boasts renewable energy features such as 102,000-watt rooftop photovoltaic system and an extensive lighting control system. Energy-efficient lighting and appliances and water-efficient plumbing fixtures were incorporated as well. Creekside West is designed to consume 50 percent less energy and water than a typical building.

Nearly 90 percent of the project's construction materials were recycled and diverted from nearby landfills, and at least 10 percent of all materials originated from nearby locations. Native plants and outdoor drip irrigation reduce the need for water for landscaping, and a green roof reduces the heat island effect on the underground parking garage 

Creekside West is Colorado’s first LEED Platinum (84/100) multifamily building, certified in 2011. The project also achieved a 100 Energy Star rating.  The project has accessible pathways and is near public transportation, as well as providing indoor and outdoor bicycle storage and priority parking for low-emission vehicles. 

CMTA Lexington Office Building: Lexington, Kentucky

Certified in 2015, CMTA’s office was the first office building certified to LEED Platinum in Lexington. The building received 81/100 overall LEED credits, including all 20 Energy and Atmosphere credits, and achieved a 100 Energy Star rating. Energy-saving features include insulated concrete form walls, geothermal heating and cooling, daylighting and solar-powered, internally actuated diffusers.

The building’s lighting systems are designed to improve the work environment, while only consuming .56 watts per square foot. Solar energy is produced from an 8.58 kW monocrystalline solar photovoltaic system on the southeast-facing roof, which provides 17 percent of the building’s annual power usage. 

The Edge: Atlanta, Georgia

This renovation of a 1946 building in Atlanta earned LEED Platinum certification in 2011, and an 84 Energy Star rating in 2012. To achieve this, The Edge added a roof monitor to provide natural light and light fixtures with daylight-responsive dimming to provide indoor lighting when needed. A 5kW photovoltaic system also contributes to energy savings.

A green roof and low-flow plumbing features contributed to the project's sustainable construction. The Edge also used local and reclaimed materials, including salvaged maple floors from a former textile mill in South Carolina.

These examples are just a snapshot of the impact Energy Star has had on LEED-certified buildings. These voluntary rating systems are transforming buildings and communities, one project at a time.

Voice your support for Energy Star

Take part in the ACEEE Energy Efficiency Finance Forum in Chicago

April 27, 2017
Feature image: 

Energy efficiency financing is already a multibillion dollar industry, but its potential is even larger. Attend the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)’s Energy Efficiency Finance Forum to find out what works and how best to scale projects. Highlighting successful programs across the nation, Finance Forum tackles the biggest problems in energy efficiency deployment. 

This year's forum, being held May 21–23 at the Fairmont in Chicago, Illinois, will feature discussions on how energy efficiency can be incorporated into infrastructure, resiliency work, low- to moderate-income households, multifamily residences and commercial buildings. It will also showcase how community development financial institutions, large commercial banks and philanthropies are engaging in energy efficiency financing.

For more than a decade, Finance Forum has been the venue where people discover the best way to pay for energy efficiency. The conference welcomes state and local government, clean-tech investors, financiers, real estate professionals, policymakers, efficiency program planners and NGO members, as well as utilities and energy companies.

If you need a refresher course in either energy efficiency or financing, be sure to sign up for Energy Efficiency Financing 101 before the conference begins. 

Register for the forum

USGBC Platinum members volunteer nationwide on Earth Day

April 27, 2017
Feature image: 

In honor of Earth Day, USGBC Platinum level member company employees cleaned up local parks, planted trees and challenged themselves to reduce their carbon footprint, all in an effort to leave a positive impact on the environment.

From Portland to Washington, D.C., take a look at what some of our Platinum members did for Earth Day this year.

The Midwest

Arcadis Callison-RTKL

In Indianapolis, Arcadis Callison-RTKL employees celebrated Earth Day by adding labels to 800 seed packets to distribute during an Indiana Association of Environmental Professionals event.


In Wyandotte, Michigan, BASF employees gathered at Exchange Park—popular with local families for its playground, picnic area and soccer field—to help with picking up litter and debris, spreading new mulch and planting new trees. At other company offices, employees participated in the installation of a pollinator garden and tree planting events.


For a week leading up to Earth Day, Sloan unveiled a new event each day at its Franklin Park, Illinois, headquarters. Highlights included expanding community gardens, where staff can grow fresh vegetables and herbs, and creating a program to help dispose of unused medicine to help prevent water contamination.

The West


Dozens of Denver employees traded in their technology gear for a pair of gloves and shovels, picking up trash, removing weeds, repairing trails and painting park fixtures as part of CH2M’s Spring RiverSweep at Fishback Park. The effort prepares city parks for the active summer season.

Green Building Services, Inc.

Green Building Services, Inc. employees volunteered with the nonprofit Friends of Trees in treating native trees and shrubs with mulch at Portland’s Sandy River Delta Park. The mulching helps the plants retain water during the summer heat.

The East


In Washington, D.C., Skanska’s staff helped restore and grow the Excel Academy school garden. Meanwhile, the company's Seattle office hosted a carbon reduction contest that challenged project teams to track their work commute, incorporate energy reduction strategies and explore new ways to buy carbon offsets for their projects. The team achieving closest to zero carbon won a prize.

Learn more about USGBC membership

Green Business Certification Inc. Continues its Expansion in Europe

April 27, 2017
Applicable country: 
Feature image: 

GBCI Europe to facilitate LEED and other sustainability programs in Europe

Munich, Germany—(April 27, 2017)—GBCI, the premier organization independently recognizing excellence in green business industry performance and practice globally, announced the opening of a new European office in Munich today. Through rigorous certification and credentialing standards, GBCI drives adoption of green building and business practices. Kay Killmann has been named managing director of GBCI Europe.

Read the full press release

Celebrating volunteers at USGBC Arizona and USGBC Central Plains

April 26, 2017
Feature image: 

In honor of National Volunteer Appreciation Week, USGBC interviewed several volunteers making a big impact at USGBC. Find current volunteer opportunities.

Chad Billings, Architect, Dick & Fritsche Design Group

Where did you grow up, and where are you located now?

I grew up in Denver, Colorado, and moved to Phoenix for graduate school at Arizona State University. I decided to stay in Phoenix after graduation.

How long have you been involved with USGBC?

I first heard about USGBC in 2002, when I started to research LEED credentialing. I got my credential in 2003, and started my first LEED project almost immediately. I got involved as a volunteer in 2008, joining the education committee to help keep the local programs running while other volunteers were dedicated to Greenbuild. I’ve been part of the USGBC Arizona community ever since.

What roles have you filled as a USGBC volunteer?

I’ve served on the education committee, and I was on the Central Arizona Phoenix Area Branch as treasurer, vice chair and chair. Even while serving in the branch role, I continued to help with the education committee.

What is your most proud accomplishment as a volunteer?

Five years ago, I worked with a few other volunteers on the education committee to bring programming to the next level by introducing a large annual conference. Hosting the first one was a major endeavor, because we were doing something new. It offered a big opportunity to credential holders to knock out credits in one day, as well as a networking opportunity for professionals and chance to grow the local community.

What are you most excited about in the green building industry?

What I’m most proud of is how transformative the LEED rating system has been on the industry. When version two was out, and it was new and mysterious, people didn’t know how to get things done because it was so different from how they’d been doing things. At that time, we couldn’t even find cut sheets with listed volatile organic compounds (VOC) counts in paint. Now, in the industry, you have to work hard to find paint that has VOCs. LEED v4 can bring a similar round of change to the building industry.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

It’s a cliché you hear all the time, but it’s “follow your passion.” People will volunteer for a variety of reasons, and those who are more drawn in by our mission are the people who stick around for the long term. When you volunteer your time, it’s important to truly care about the work you’re doing. 

Harriet Grindel, Architect, sfs architecture

Where did you grow up, and where are you located now?

I grew up in a suburb of Kansas City and chose to move east for my education. I earned my undergraduate degree in St. Louis and my master’s degree in New York City. I discovered that I love the urban core and urban living, so when I moved back to Kansas City, I established myself in a vibrant neighborhood. I love the fact that Kansas City is redefining itself as a destination, not just for the Midwest, but for the whole country.

How long have you been involved with USGBC?

My involvement with the USGBC Central Plains community started in 2009. In 2008, I went to Greenbuild in Boston and met some of the local volunteer leadership standing in the hotel lobby while waiting for the shuttle to go to hear Desmond Tutu speak for the opening plenary. They encouraged me to get involved after returning from Greenbuild.

What drew you to volunteering with USGBC over other organizations?

Originally, I was drawn to USGBC because the opportunity was very tangible and people were welcoming. The community network was volunteer-oriented, allowing me to find a place to fit into the group and just find a way to get involved.

Also, as a young architect, I was looking for a way to really engage myself outside the office and find the ability to promote good design at a larger scale. As architects, we have the responsibility to encourage our communities to build as sustainably as we can. Sustainable design is just good design, and I like being part of the bigger movement.

What roles have you filled as a USGBC volunteer?

It started in 2009, when I was a committee member for the local Central Plains Chapter Communications Committee, and I later served as chair of that committee. While serving as committee chair, I was selected by the community to represent us at a regional level in 2010 as part of the Heartland Regional Committee, until it dissolved in 2015.

As a member of the HRC, I was also elected to be part of the Chapter Steering Committee from 2012 to 2015. Additionally, I served on the Central Plains Chapter Board of Directors prior to network evolution from 2012, serving in leadership positions such as vice chair in 2012, chair in 2013, and past chair in 2014.

What are you most excited about in the green building industry?

I think we have lots of opportunity and excitement building around how to continue the momentum we’ve created as a whole to make green building achievable for all communities. I’m especially interested to see our movement continue to make “green” available to all communities, no matter their socioeconomic status. It’s about promoting cost-effective, appropriate solutions to meet the needs of our communities that are the right decisions for the people and environment.

If you could change one thing, what would it be and why?

I’d change our education system to switch focus from valuing the understanding of “what” to the understanding of “why.” We are constantly testing how people respond to questions as if there’s a correct answer, when most life situations don’t have one right answer, and potential solutions are dependent on many factors.

If we could all learn to understand each other’s “why” when approaching issues, rather than the “what,” I think it would start to change the way that we think about ourselves and our place in the environment. 

Become a volunteer with USGBC

Celebrating our volunteers at USGBC

April 26, 2017
Feature image: 

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” —Marjorie Moore

Showing up and mobilizing for action in communities is critical to realizing a better future. For National Volunteer Appreciation Week, USGBC celebrates the thousands of individuals around the world who give their time, expertise and passion to sustainable buildings and communities.

Volunteers are integral to the success of USGBC and LEED, providing unique skills and leadership that enhance our regional and global impact:

  • Over 150 volunteers help review and enhance our LEED rating system and our credentialing exams.
  • Nearly 700 volunteers help plan and run Greenbuild and related summits and seminars.
  • More than 90 volunteers review the Education @USGBC courses, providing comments and beginning ratings.
  • Nearly 4,000 volunteers support our work to develop the green building market in local communities.

“The green building movement is living proof that real change starts with people—real change starts with you and me,” states Mahesh Rumanujam, President and CEO of USGBC and GBCI. “We need to be prepared to carry this movement on our own, inspired and supported by a network of fellow changemakers who are ready to rise. We urge you to do the same.”

This week, we will highlight exceptional volunteers throughout our network. Learn about

  • Krissy Buck, a dedicated volunteer in the USGBC Tennessee community who led an annual competition to engage with high school students about green building.
  • Chad Billings, who was inspired to volunteer after attending Greenbuild and led the USGBC Arizona community in creating an annual education event.
  • Lisa Laney, a powerhouse for green schools with USGBC Ohio and a volunteer leader with the Center for Green Schools.
  • Nell Boyle, who has volunteered with USGBC Greater Virginia, and is forever inspired by those with whom she serves.
  • Harriet Grindel, a volunteer leader with USGBC Central Plains who is practicing what she preaches as an architect and is dedicated to making green building available to all communities.

Cast your vote for greener buildings and more sustainable communities by becoming a USGBC volunteer yourself!

Become a USGBC volunteer


U.S. Green Building Council - Long Island Chapter
150 Motor Parkway - Suite LL80
Hauppauge, NY 11788