As 2019 begins, it is important to take a moment to reflect on 2018’s successes, lessons learned and highlights. As co-chair of the USGBC Northern California community'sImpact Committee, I have had the pleasure of working with 15 green building professionals, who volunteered their time to seven Bay Area schools, four churches and a community center.
The Green Building Mentor program and Arc
I became involved with this committee when it came into fruition a year ago, in collaboration with USGBC staff. Through the Impact Committee, we created the Green Building Mentor program. The program provided the opportunity for industry experts to be paired up with Bay Area community buildings and to help the spaces become healthier and more sustainable.
The program incorporated the Arc platform to help provide transparency into building performance. Arc is an online tool that measures building performance based on energy, water, waste, human experience and transportation. Access to the platform is free for registered and certified LEED projects. There are many benefits to using Arc, but the highlights include increased transparency, streamlined data management and an opportunity to benchmark performance against peers using a performance score. Although Arc is normally associated with LEED projects, its benefits can be used even without pursuing certification.
During the program, some of the main things we focused on with the community buildings were working to lower energy and maintenance costs, promoting environmental literacy, and helping teams create next steps to continue their efforts after the program’s completion.
At Lincoln High School, mentor Boris Gamazaychikov, from stok, worked with the 2010 Teacher of the Year, Valerie Ziegler, to help further the school's sustainability goals. With the help of Kayla Harris from Healthy Buildings, they helped the students perform an indoor air quality survey using different instruments to measure CO2, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), humidity, temperature and light to get a baseline of the indoor environmental conditions.
Jessica Loeper, Vice President at Verdani Partners and new co-chair of the Impact Committee, and Ranjani Venkataraman began their work with Jefferson Elementary, which then extended to the entire Berkeley Unified School District, where they are in the process of getting all the schools set up with Arc.
Connecting with community
In 2018, I also had the opportunity to work with the Reverend Ambrose Carroll from the Church by the Side of the Road. The church is a part of the Green the Church movement, an initiative that brings together African American congregations to address environmental and economic issues. During the year, we were able to identify opportunities for the church to improve its efficiency, with a focus on easy, low-cost upgrades such as LED lighting.
Working with the Impact Committee has been a very enriching experience. Not only do you get to connect with fellow professionals in the industry, but more important, you get to connect with your community. Being able to leverage your knowledge and expertise to help make positive impacts for the people and the planet is what drives our work. Doing this work to benefit our local neighborhoods reminds us that sometimes, the biggest impacts we can make are just around the corner from us.
If you are interested in participating in the Impact Committee, please fill out our online Expression of Interest Form.