Barb Anderson, 2012-13 chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Advocacy Committee, says she has a passion for sustainable building. She also has more than 25 years of experience in architecture and sustainable design.
Through the USGBC, the Oates Associates senior architect works with communities and municipalities to initiate, develop and implement green building concepts in order to promote environmentally responsible places in which citizens can live and work.
However, she admits it’s a passion she fell into by accident.
“It all started when I was at another firm working on the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center. The president of Lewis and Clark College suggested that we strive to achieve LEED certification on the project, which was still very new at the time,” she said. “That suggestion led us to use some of the most cutting edge technology on the project in order to receive the highest level of LEED available. After that, I was on board.”
Anderson’s various committee projects often overlap one another and provide unique challenges, but each ultimately has the same basic mission: To encourage local officials to develop eco-responsible municipalities and allow builders the incentive to embrace sustainable building practices and reach out to the community at large to show how they can benefit from cleaner, walkable communities that create healthier environments for everyone.
Sometimes that means providing USGBC-sponsored programming to industry groups, key individuals and the public at large through presentations or educational events like the Green Homes and Green Health Festival in St. Louis, Mo., where she recently met with other communities to share ideas.
Local partnerships and collaborations are at the very heart of the USGBC’s mission.
“It’s not always easy,” she admitted. “There are always challenges when it comes to encouraging communities and municipalities to embrace sustainable building practices when they still know so little about it.”
While on the Edwardsville, Ill., Cool Cities Committee, Anderson was able to formulate a sustainable building ordinance that promoted the benefits of sustainable building without locking builders into third party verification, monitoring or the escalated costs associated with green construction.
“Sustainable building is not mandated, but it is encouraged,” she said, noting that this type of ordinance is not easy to pass as no one wants to deter the potential growth in a community. “We took the attitude that it’s better than nothing. If a builder is willing to use as many recycled products as possible, that’s fine. It still makes the community a little greener.”
It’s that attitude that Anderson will be taking into 2013, when she’ll work with other sustainable building experts who were selected to assist in the completion of a sustainability plan for Madison County, Ill., Planning and Development Department. When it’s completed, the plan will serve as a reference for the county’s decisions and policies in sustainable practices. Anderson and other experts will assess current practices, create action items, and develop an implementation strategy.
“We’re just getting started, but it will be a larger version of the kind of thing we did on the Cool Cities Committee. But this will be available to all of the communities in the county.”
Anderson hopes that as municipal officials and engineers continue to develop their communities, reliance on sustainable building practices will become automatic rather than something that they decide on in committee.
“Just as we now design and plan all projects in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, I would like to see sustainability incorporated the same way,” she said.
What is the USGBC?
The USGBC is a 501c3 nonprofit organization committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for the nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. Supported by donations, sponsors and members who volunteer their time and talent to promote awareness, the USGBC works toward its mission of market transformation through its LEED green building program, robust educational offerings, a nationwide network of chapters and affiliates, the annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, and advocacy in support of public policy that encourages and enables green buildings and communities.
Members affiliated with a local chapter have the opportunity to meet with other like-minded people, share their expertise and hone their skills in an area of interest whether that is public policy, communications or event planning and benefit from discounted rates for chapter programs and continuing education opportunities.
USGBC’s advocacy team works to influence policy on a large scale to achieve these benefits for communities, while providing effective tools for change to implementers on the ground. Its advocacy work leverages this extraordinary and growing legacy of achievement to accelerate the uptake of state, local and national policies that advance energy conservation, green building and livable communities. Source: www.usgbc.org