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20 years of USGBC: A father's daughter

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This article is part of a series of stories from USGBC's community celebrating 20 years of green building triumphs. Take a walk down memory lane with USGBC, as we reflect on favorite moments and share memories from the last 20 years. Share your own green building triumphs using #USGBC20.

I am my father’s daughter. And that is where it all started.  My Dad is 83 and still practices architecture. When we were growing up, we visited architecturally significant places like Olvera Street, one of the oldest streets in Los Angeles, the historic Union Station, and Greene and Greene Arts & Crafts style bungalows in Pasadena. These influences lead me northward to study environmental design at UC Berkeley and then healthcare architecture at the University of Washington in Seattle.

And this is where it flourished. While at UW, I became National President of the American Institute of Architecture Students being elected on a green building platform advocating healthier and more environmentally friendly buildings. David Pearson, Sim Van Der Ryn, Bill McDonough, all pioneers, spoke at our national conference. After serving my term in DC, I moved to San Francisco to get on track for my career in architecture. Or so I thought. I was derailed when I met David Gottfried in 1993 and he hired me to help support and advance a new organization, the U.S. Green Building Council. Our first office was located in his apartment in the Marina District in San Francisco. 

And this is where it transformed the market. Little did we know that 20 years later this new organization would transform the building industry, while also transforming so many of our lives. It certainly transformed mine: I ran a thriving green building consulting practice for almost 19 years (yes, our website was www dot Greenbuild dot com!), enabling me to work with some amazing colleagues (I even met my husband Mark Berman at a green building materials conference at the new Main Library in San Francisco); and I have a wonderful community of green building friends all over the country who are making the world a better place. 

And this is where it became mainstream. It’s easy to get mired in the details of LEED Online, or to become discouraged when you wish your client would use those 0.8 gpm flush toilets because your region is suffering under drought conditions, or you have to convince yet another client why conserving energy is so important, and that by saving water, you can save energy and reduce climate change. At times like these, I am grateful that my career blossomed in an age where green building has become the norm (e.g. CALGreen), and that building types ranging from multi-family affordable housing to Presidential libraries are LEED certified.

I am my father’s daughter. Little did we know when he took my hand to walk down the streets in Los Angeles and opened my eyes to architectural wonders that his daughter’s career would flourish hand in hand with the U.S. Green Building Council.

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    Lynn N. Simon made 1 contribution in the last 6 months

Lynn N. Simon

Senior Vice President Thornton Tomasetti, Inc.

1 commentLeave a comment

Principal and Founder, The Green Engineer, Inc.
Really great piece - I'm glad I found it.

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