U.S. GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL: Chapters Update

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April 2010

Features

Connie McGreavy: Tenacious champion of green building in Rhode Island

When you spend a little time with Connie McGreavy you realize that the phrase, “Can’t be done,” is not in her vocabulary. She spearheaded the formation of the Rhode Island Green Building Council (RIGBC) in 2008 with a band of 12 women. RIGBC moved from organizing group to provisional status to full chapter in record speed. It is now one of the most robust chapters in the Upper Northeast Region – not bad for the smallest state in the Union.

McGreavy evaluated several existing organizations before deciding that the national recognition of USGBC would be important in accelerating and transforming the building industry. “I recognized that the credibility and name recognition of USGBC would allow us to move more quickly.”

Rhode Island’s high unemployment rate, need for green practices job training and predominance of existing buildings all underscored her belief that establishing a USGBC chapter would fill a hole in the economy. “There was a need; I was qualified. It was my duty… and it was embarrassing that we were one of only a handful of states that didn’t have a chapter. Nothing like pride as a motivator,” quipped McGreavy.

McGreavy’s qualifications are diverse, from a B.S. in Environmental Conservation and a Masters in Public Administration to many years in the residential design and building industries to advocacy and policy experience in all-volunteer organizations, including serving as president of the state affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation.

“I was going in with my eyes open and knew the challenges. I’m particularly good at getting people to do things for me and getting things for free,” McGreavy noted. The recent launch of her own consulting firm, Conserve By Design, provided McGreavy the flexibility she needed to dedicated up to 60 volunteer hours per week during the chapter’s start-up year.

“No one has demonstrated more commitment and energy to the subject of sustainable green building in Rhode Island than Connie,” current chapter chair Steven Kitchin said. “She was the major factor in the establishment of our Rhode Island chapter and its early successes here in our state.”

“Rhode Island is a small state, so it’s easier to get traction and not hard to get to the State House,” McGreavy observed. ”I know the politics and people. I have name recognition and a track record from all my years doing environmental policy while working in the private sector.”

Finding a willing host in the New England Institute of Technology, located in the middle of the state in Warwick, enhanced her ability to attract well-qualified and established business people to the board.

McGreavy’s organizational ability and skill in establishing a vibrant non-profit chapter is clearly one of her strengths. However, it is as an advocate at the State House, shepherding green building legislation with resolute determination, that she is most passionate.

“Hands down, there is nothing like making law – it’s difficult, it requires incredible persistence and bird-dogging, knowledge of the political process and landscape. … A concerted advocacy effort can be dashed in an instant if you’re not paying attention or let down your guard,” McGreavy said.

It is unusual to pass a bill in one session, but in Rhode Island’s case the chapter got a resolution passed the last day of the 2008 session and then went straight to work helping craft legislation in the late fall of 2008. RIGBC worked with the bill sponsors and leadership and filed two bills by the February 2009 deadline. Both were passed by both chambers of the majority Democratic Legislature and signed by the Republican governor.

The result of RIGBC’s efforts is a bill that upgrades the energy conservation code to international standards (and also brought in $22 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds) and the RI Green Buildings Act.

“The Green Buildings Act was an arduous, challenging effort with many detractors,” McGreavy said. “Despite an early hearing, the bills were passed by only one of two chambers on the last day of the session in June 2009. We had to wait it out and keep up the pressure over the summer and into the fall. It wasn’t until November 2009 that we got the ball over the goal line. … That legislation gave us real credibility – it was a huge win and extremely gratifying.”

“My M.O. is to think globally and act locally,” McGreavy continued. “I wanted to accelerate action on all fronts – organizational and programming-wise. I wanted to help people – we have reached thousands of people with our education offerings. We’ve paired people with jobs. We’ve helped companies retool. We’re building a knowledge network. We are giving people hope and support. We are reaching out to the unemployed, underemployed, the hard-to-employ and the incarcerated. Our goal is for the chapter to become the trusted ‘go-to’ source for verifiable green building information in the Ocean State.”

Helping state officials create a blueprint for a robust green economy that has impact locally, regionally and nationally will continue to be an overarching goal of RIGBC. McGreavy would like to see the chapter scale up in order to transform the industry.

And how does she anticipate achieving that goal?

“You have to believe you can do it, be capable of picking yourself up each day, look the incredible challenge in the eye and stay focused,” she asserted. There is no doubt, with Connie McGreavy’s passion and experience, that the Rhode Island Chapter will do just that.

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North Texas Green Building Summit Provided Road Map to Sustainability


In February the USGBC North Texas Chapter partnered with the Home Builders Association of Greater Dallas to present the second annual Texas Green Building Summit, a premier sustainable design conference aimed at promoting green building practices throughout the North Texas region.

Approximately 1,100 patrons attended the one-day conference, held at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Dallas, featuring sessions from leading green building industry experts. Originally a residential-building event for the home-building community in 2009, this year’s event expanded to include commercial building programming. This combined effort provided a forum for collaboration with numerous organizations aimed at improving the quality of sustainable efforts in the region.

According to the promoters, “The Texas Green Buildings Summit is both a celebration of the magnificent green efforts in Texas buildings and a road map to follow in our collective efforts to make the buildings where we live and work more sustainable.”

In an effort to facilitate the goal, over 21 workshop sessions covering myriad residential and commercial buildings topics were offered, including green certification programs, building performance, green building legal issues, municipal policies, integrated design, zero energy homes, and sustainable stewardship.

Keynote address speakers included the Honorable Tom Leppert, Mayor of Dallas; Liz Newman from the Home Builders Association of Greater Dallas; Ralph Hawkins, Chairman and CEO of event sponsor HKS, Inc.; Nate Kredich, USGBC Vice President of Residential Market Development; and Steve Mouzon, founder of New Urban Guild and Principal of Mouzon Design. Lee Hall, President of Sustainable Structures of Texas, a sustaining sponsor of USGBC North Texas, served as the master of ceremonies.

During the conference sessions, real-time tweets via the event account were available for attendees and the community to hear about happenings on the showroom floor and takeaways from various individual speaker sessions. For instance, Peter Pfeiffer, in his “Nuts and Bolts: A Pragmatic Approach to Real and Relevant Green Buildings,” offered many helpful insights about separating the “eco-bling” items from the real green items in sustainable construction. Particular focus was placed upon creating eco-sensitive balanced buildings by effectively arranged by design principles rather than solely by “device” elements. These ecological nuggets were broadcast for those beyond the borders of the session room.

The Texas Green Building Summit 2010 promoted a focus on how our buildings should be rather than how they have been. In his keynote talk, Kredich stated that the “tipping point for this industry happens when we start thinking differently about things for the people.” Later, he noted that “the shortest path from vision to achievement is to think about how [buildings] should be intentionally” and elaborated by stating that there are approximately 120 million existing homes in the United States, and “virtually every one is an energy hog, flushing potable water down the drain.”

The summit was a tremendous success, having grown from an inaugural conference of approximately 700 people to over 1,100 this year. Of those who attended and completed exit surveys, over 85% were satisfied with the event and an astounding 83% stated that they would likely attend the 2011 Summit.

So, to that measure, planning has already begun to make the 2011 Texas Green Building Summit more meaningful, impactful and informative. If you have any ideas for content or are interested in presenting, please contact the USGBC North Texas Program Director Cathy Boldt.

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Chapter Spotlight

Chapter’s High Performance Building Series Educates Local Business Community

This winter the USGBC St. Louis Regional Chapter partnered with the St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association (RCGA) to offer a three-part program explaining green building and its local benefits to the business community in their metro area.

What began as a plan to offer a green building 101 talk evolved into a tailored event series detailing the local workplace and environmental impacts, the productivity gains and the cost incentives of building green to an audience of more than 300 professionals.

The chapter’s past advocacy chair, Rick Hunter, described the origins of the program: “We needed to start taking our message more directly to the companies with the larger square footages and partnering with the local RCGA was a great way to do that. We also wanted to be sure that we were addressing the perceived barriers head-on and providing practically oriented information.”

The series took advantage of a revolving roster of speakers from a variety of building perspectives, including a high-profile kickoff by Congressman Russ Carnahan, who discussed the Federal Building Personnel Training Program, which sees a $4 return on investment for every dollar spent on facility and building manager training.

A session focused on green building myth busting featured Washington University’s Assistant Vice Chancellor for Sustainability, Matt Malten, discussing the institution’s commitment to and success in reducing its carbon footprint through LEED certification and other initiatives despite a 37.3% growth in population and an 87% growth in square footage since 1990. The final session examined federal, regional and local tax incentives that make green building more affordable as evidenced by two case studies for local projects.

In addition to positive feedback, USGBC St. Louis Regional Chapter was able to “recruit a handful of new chapter members,” according to Executive Director Emily Andrews. “We were able to reach beyond the usual suspects to the business community and members of RCGA…. Networking opportunities at the event seemed to be very appreciated as it was difficult to get attendees to sit down at the start of the event and many stayed afterwards to connect with one another.”

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USGBC Maine Educates Homeowners About Going Green

On an incredibly blustery, rainy evening at the end of March in Maine, it was heartening to see a room filled with home owners eager to learn how they could make pragmatic, effective improvements to green their homes. These were participants in USGBC Maine Chapter’s six-week-long workshop for consumers, Green Homes Lecture Series.

Designed to help homeowners make informed decisions about their homes, the two-hour sessions cover financing, energy audits, whole-house systems including building envelope and insulation strategies, kitchen and bath improvements, indoor air quality, mold, permaculture and xeriscaping.

According to Maine Chapter Chair Naomi Mermin, the idea for a green homes series sprang from the Board’s strategic retreat last July: “We brainstormed the groups we need to reach to truly ‘green’ Maine. All of us (on the board) are asked by friends and colleagues about their homes – that’s how the average person relates to green building. Planning an education program for homeowners helps them green their homes but also helps educate and build the constituency for green buildings. This is helping us break out of being perceived as an industry association and allowing us to broaden our membership and expand our reach as a mission-focused organization.”

At the most recent event in the series, experts from Peter Taggert, the builder of the first LEED home in the country, to representatives from an energy-efficient mortgage lender and utility company offering rebates for energy-focused improvements educated a receptive and enthusiastic audience.

One homeowner commented, “We just purchased a home built in 1889 in the West End. I had an energy audit done, and now we are seeing what additional steps we can take to make sustainable improvements .”

The final session, covering landscaping, takes place May 4. Tickets are $10. For more information about attending the final session visit the USGBC Maine Chapter website.

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Volunteer Impact

Minnesota and Florida Chapters Host Legislative Days

Across the country, state legislatures are meeting to deal with important issues of the day, and in many cases, USGBC chapters are there to make sure that green buildings are part of the conversation.

In March, the Minnesota Chapter hosted its First Annual Day at the state capitol in St. Paul knowing that by making connections with local elected policy makers, the chapter’s profile is raised, and the chapter becomes a resource and a sounding board for legislators. Accordingly, they invited their chapter’s key legislative advocates and every state legislator. During the formal presentation in the Capitol Rotunda, speakers included Minnesota Chapter Executive Director Sheri Brezinka, USGBC Vice President of Community Richard Graves and USGBC Director of Advocacy Roger Limoges. In addition, state Sens. Scott Dibble and John Doll, as well as state Rep. Jeremy Kalin, addressed about 40 chapter members about the importance of chapter advocacy.

After the main event, a smaller group of Minnesota Chapter members stayed to meet with legislators who were able to step off of the House and Senate floors. Additionally, several members were invited onto the House floor and were formally recognized by Rep. Jeremy Kalin and Rep. Karen Clark. They were greeted by the House with a standing ovation for the work that USGBC has done in Minnesota.

The Florida Caribbean Regional Council also held its third annual Legislative Day in Tallahassee, Fla., last month. Volunteers and staff from the Florida Capital Region, North Florida, Central Florida, Florida Gulf Coast and South Florida chapters participated in the event as along with USGBC national staff.

With talking points put together by members of the Florida chapters’ statewide advocacy committee, volunteers visited with their legislators both by appointment and “dropping in” with supporting information about USGBC, LEED and statistics on green building in the state of Florida, including the number of LEED-certified and registered buildings, LEED Professional Credential holders, chapter members, USGBC national member organizations, etc.

From these and other chapters’ successful efforts, several proven practices emerge:

  • Preparation is the key. Research legislators you anticipate meeting. Take special note of what committees they’re working on and what projects they are interested in.

  • Materials and message should be consistent. Each participant should share the same message. Create brochures and materials to leave behind for your legislator and/or their staff and provide talking points for your attendees.

  • Make appointments. Call your legislator at least a few weeks in advance and reserve 15 minutes of their time to ensure that you have your legislators’ undivided attention for a full 15 minutes to discuss your issue.

  • Reiterate the big picture. Remind your legislator why green building is so important and why they should be supporting sustainability (long-term environmental and financial benefits, short-term health benefits, etc.).

  • Follow-up is crucial. Send a letter to the legislators with whom you met and thank them for their time. Take advantage of the opportunity to deliver your message one more time.
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Rising Star: South Florida Chapter's Mark Schreiber


Mark Schrieber is moving sustainability in the right direction, and he’s moving fast. A native of Cary, N.C., Schreiber made his way to the University of Miami to study architecture in 2004. Inspired by his older brother to the issues surrounding sustainability, he first got involved with USGBC in 2005 after receiving a scholarship from the South Florida Chapter to pursue a LEED AP credential. He went on to become the first student at the University of Miami to become a LEED AP.

During a study session with other members of the South Florida Chapter, Schreiber remembers asking the question, “What is this EGB [Emerging Green Builders] thing?” Things began to fall quickly into place after that. “My motto is that you can’t procrastinate if you’re going to change the world. I believe that USGBC subscribes to this ideology, and that is why I am so passionate about my work with the organization.”

Instrumental in founding the EGB group at the University of Miami, Schrieber used EGB to push for a stronger emphasis on sustainability within the university curriculum. The UM EGB group was the first within the South Florida Chapter, which now supports Emerging Professionals committees for three branches and soon to be seven USGBC Student groups.

Upon joining the EGB National Committee in 2008, Schreiber had the opportunity to bring his drive and passion to a national stage. For two years, he has worked to help solidify the definition of an “emerging professional,” research and create a new name for EGB – USGBC Emerging Professionals – and provide valuable tools and resources to the local Emerging Professionals in his Florida/Caribbean region.

His hard work and dedication were rewarded by the other members of the EGB National Committee when he was elected as its chair for the 2010-2011 term.

"Every now and again, a young professional steps into a volunteer role with the Chapter, and almost instantly everyone involved knows that we've got someone very special on the team. Mark Schrieber is such a volunteer," says Lee Cooke, Executive Director of the USGBC South Florida Chapter. "From the get-go, Mark's volunteer efforts were of the highest caliber, but this personable and talented young man has evolved into one of our strongest and most respected leaders, always setting a great example for his volunteer peers and, of course, for our emerging professionals.”

Schreiber has most recently been involved with the chapter network’s efforts regarding Haiti relief and reconstruction. In fact, the New York Times recently featured one of his drawings in an article covering the redevelopment of Haiti. Schreiber’s drawing, depicting a new plan for the city of Port Salut, showcases his ability to apply creativity to complex situations and signals that he is here to stay in the green building movement.

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Green Home Guide


USGBC Course Catalog

Upcoming Regional Conferences

Green Building Events

Prevent Lead Poisoning - Do the New EPA Lead Paint Rules Affect You?
Central Plains Chapter
Date: Friday, April 30
Time: 11:30 a.m. -1:00 p.m.
Location: Kansas City, Mo.
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Green Homes 101 & Sheldon Crossing Home Tour
Delaware Valley Green Building Council
Date: Saturday, May 1
Time: 10 a.m. - noon
Location: Philadelphia
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Emerging Green Builders First Monday Happy Hour
Delaware Valley Green Building Council
Date: Monday, May 3
Time: 6 - 8 p.m.
Location: Philadelphia
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LEED AP Credentialing Maintenance Program
Central Florida Chapter
Date: Tuesday, May 4
Time: 5-7:30 p.m.
Location: Orlando
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Light Control & LEED : How Lighting Controls Helps Achieve LEED in NC
Florida Gulf Coast Chapter
Date: Tuesday, May 4
Time: 5:30-7:15 p.m.
Location: Estero, Fla.
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Panel Discussion: Bently Biofuel LEED NC Gold Project
Nevada Chapter
Date: Tuesday, May 4
Time: 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Location: Reno, Nev.
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Lunch and Learn: The Florida Energy Code
Florida Gulf Coast Chapter
Date: Tuesday, May 4
Time: 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Location: Tampa, Fla.
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Green Building Social Networking Session
Northeast Ohio Chapter
Date: Tuesday, May 4
Time: 5 - 7:00 p.m.
Location: Twinsburg, Ohio
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Green Eggs - Maine Advanced Buildings Program
Maine Chapter
Date: Wednesday, May 5
Time: 7:30 - 9:00 a.m.
Location: Portland, Maine
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Best of Greenbuild
Delaware Valley Green Building Council
Date: Wednesday, May 5
Time: 3:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Location: Philadelphia
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Spring Lecture Series: Ecological Design
Hawaii Chapter
Date: Thursday, May 6
Time: 11:45 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
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Green Operations Summit
North Texas Chapter
Date: Thursday, May 6
Time: 8 a.m. - 4:45 p.m.
Location: Plano, Texas
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University of North Florida College of Education and Human Services Building Tour
North Florida Chapter
Date: Thursday, May 6
Time: 4 - 6:00 p.m.
Location: Jacksonville, Fla.
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Renewable Energy Practices & Plant Tour
Central Plains Chapter
Date: Friday, May 7
Time: 11 a.m. -1:00 p.m.
Location: Sugar Creek, Mo.
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Sustainability in the Military Built Environment
New Jersey Chapter
Date: Monday, May 10
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Hackensack, N.J.
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Judith Heerwagen on Biophilic Design
Delaware Valley Green Building Council
Date: Monday, May 10
Time: 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Location: Philadelphia
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Greenovation Forum
San Diego Chapter
Date: Tuesday, May 11
Time: 4 - 7:00 p.m.
Location: San Diego
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Tour New Legg Mason Headquarters
Maryland Chapter
Date: Wednesday, May 12
Time: 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Location: Baltimore
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Tour: The Green Roof at 250 Hudson
New York Chapter
Date: Wednesday, May 12
Time: 4-6:00 p.m.
Location: New York
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Lunch-N-Learn: Combined Heat & Power for Sustainability and Green Building
Central Texas - Balcones Chapter
Date: Thursday, May 13
Time: noon - 1:30 p.m.
Location: Austin, Texas
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Green Drinks
Chihuahuan Desert Chapter
Date: Thursday, May 13
Time: 5:30-7:00 p.m.
Location: El Paso, Texas
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Emerging Green Builders Happy Hour
Northern California Chapter
Date: Friday, May 14
Time: 5 - 7:00 p.m.
Location: Sacramento
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LEED Platinum Home Tour: CT's Greenest Home
Connecticut Green Building Council
Date: Saturday, May 15
Time: 9:00 a.m., noon or 3:00 p.m.
Location: New Canaan, Conn.
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Tour of Renovated Dater Montessori School
Cincinnati Regional Chapter
Date: Tuesday, May 18
Time: 4-6:00 p.m.
Location: Cincinnati
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Green Scene Networking
Georgia Chapter
Date: Tuesday, May 18
Time: 6-8:00 p.m.
Location: Augusta, Ga.
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2010 Advocacy Day
Texas Gulf Coast Chapter
Date: Tuesday, May 18
Time: 8:30 - 10:30 a.m.
Location: Houston
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Creating Green Affordable Housing: An Introduction to Green Communities
Minnesota Chapter
Date: Tuesday, May 18
Time: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Location: TBD
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Renewable Wind Energy Panel
Illinois Chapter
Date: Wednesday, May 19
Time: 5:30 - 9:00 p.m.
Location: Hoffman Estates, Ill.
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LEED Workshop: Building Energy Auditing to Optimize Existing Building Energy Performance
Central Texas - Balcones Chapter
Date: Wednesday, May 19
Time: 8:00 a.m. - noon
Location: San Antonio, Texas
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The Changing Face of Houston: Tracking the Economic and Demographic Transformations Through 29 Years of Houston Surveys
Texas Gulf Coast Chapter
Date: Wednesday, May 19
Time: 6 - 8:00 p.m.
Location: Houston
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Business Case for LEED Workshop
Central Florida Chapter
Date: Thursday, May 20
Time: 1-5:00 p.m.
Location: Heathrow, Fla.
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The Not So Big House with Sarah Susanka
Indiana Chapter
Date: Wednesday, May 20
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Indianapolis
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LEED for Retail Case Study: Pizza Fusion Restaurant
South Florida Chapter
Date: Wednesday, May 20
Time: 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.
Location: Wellington, Fla.
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The 5th Emerald Gala
Illinois Chapter
Date: Saturday, May 22
Time: 6:00 - midnight
Location: Chicago
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Putting for Green Golf Tournament
Texas Gulf Coast Chapter
Date: Monday, May 24
Time: noon
Location: Cypress, Texas
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Native South Western Landscape
Chihuahuan Desert Chapter
Date: Tuesday, May 25
Time: 11:30 a.m. -1:00 p.m.
Location: El Paso, Texas
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Green Scene
Kentucky Chapter
Date: Wednesday, May 26
Time: 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Location: Louisville, Ky.
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2010 Green Spaces Forum
James River Green Building Council
Date: Thursday, May 27
Time: 5 - 8:00 p.m.
Location: Richmond, Va.
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Green Scene
Kentucky Chapter
Date: Wednesday, June 2
Time: 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Location: Lexington, Ky.
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Tour of Barona Casino & Resort Highlighting the LEED Facility and Sustainable Practices
San Diego Chapter
Date: Thursday, June 3
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Location: San Diego
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Three Sustainable Strategies: San José Airport Expansion
Northern California Chapter
Date: Tuesday, June 8
Time: 5:30 p.m. - 8:15 p.m.
Location: San Jose, Calif.
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Green Drinks
Memphis Regional Chapter
Date: Thursday, June 10
Time: 6 - 8:00 p.m.
Location: Memphis, Tenn.
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Local Agriculture, Urban Food Systems, and Sustainable Farming
Cascadia Region Green Building Council
Date: Tuesday, June 15
Time: 7:30-9:00 a.m.
Location: Bellevue, Wash.
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Living Case Study Tour: Blattner Energy Corporate Headquarters
Minnesota Chapter
Date: Tuesday, June 15
Time: 4:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Location: Avon, Minn.
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Lecture Series: Helen Plume, Climate Change Expert
Central Texas - Balcones Chapter
Date: Tuesday, June 15
Time: 6-9:00 p.m.
Location: Austin, Texas
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Show Me The Money in Riverhead - LEED Points and Financial Incentives
Long Island Chapter
Date: Wednesday, June 16
Time: 6 - 9:30 p.m.
Location: Riverhead, NY
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Green Schools Tour
Delaware Valley Green Building Council
Date: Friday, June 18
Time: 11:30 - 6 p.m.
Location: Philadelphia
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Greening Your Municipality
Illinois Chapter
Date: Wednesday, June 19
Time: 8 - 9:30 a.m.
Location: Orland Park, Ill.
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LEED Core Concepts and Strategies Workshop
National Capital Region Chapter
Date: Monday, June 21
Time: 8:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
Location: Washington
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RehydrateUS Initiative: A Plan to Reduce Water Consumption by 1 Billion Gallons Per Day
Georgia Chapter
Date: Tuesday, June 22
Time: 5:45-7:00 p.m.
Location: Savannah, Ga.
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