Life as a LEED volunteer: Location and Planning Technical Advisory Group | U.S. Green Building Council
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Published on
Written by
Posted in LEED

Learn what two members of the LEED LP advisory group love about volunteering for USGBC.

The application period for new LEED committee members is open through August 31, 2017. In honor of that, USGBC is bringing you stories and perspectives from members of the various LEED committees.

Marilyn Specht is a Sustainability Consultant with the Integral Group and Charalampos Giannikopoulos is a Senior Sustainable Development Consultant with DCarbon. They both currently serve on the Location and Planning (LP) Technical Advisory Group (TAG).

What does your Technical Advisory Group do?

CG: The LP TAG provides a consistent source of technical advice with regard to credits improvement and supporting tool development in the respective field of interest.

MS: We help review and write credit updates, changes to Location and Transportation credits and related topics, like Neighborhood Development.

How much time do you dedicate to working on the LP TAG?

CG: Approximately 10 hours, monthly.

MS: Two to four hours per month, on average.

How has the work of the LP TAG affected the building industry during your time as a volunteer?

CG: LP issues have an incredible impact on the way we perceive the qualities of the urban context and experience the built environment on a macro scale, and the potential to ignite a lot of small changes is great, thus accelerating forces toward the sustainable neighborhoods of tomorrow.

Why did you apply to be a volunteer?

MS: I applied to be a volunteer several years ago, when I was involved in the Silicon Valley chapter of USGBC. I wanted to connect the work I was doing on a local level with the regional and national issues, and to be more involved in the technical development of LEED. I do a lot of work with developers on campus and districtwide approaches.

What is your favorite LEED credit?

MS: For a lot of projects, I really enjoy the innovation points and the pilot credits that highlight unique aspects of different projects. We are currently working with a dining hall that pursued a Sustainable Food Services credit for Innovation in Design. It was exciting to see our work with the design and construction teams reach into the operations of the project. Currently, the project sources food that is grown locally, raised humanely, done through fair labor practices and that minimizes harm to the environment.

CG: The Integrative Process credit is very important for any process that aims to create sustainable and tangible results. Integrative Process should be a prerequisite for all project types.

What is one small change you wish every building would undertake to improve sustainability performance?

MS: Thinking about operations, it’s easy for project teams to go through initial certification, but then disconnect from their initial intent once the building is occupied, or over time. I would like to encourage project teams to think post-construction. We have waste audits and biophilia competitions in our office. I want to stress the importance of smaller operational initiatives.

CG: Enabling incorporation of green strategies from an early stage of project development and realizing that establishing a framework for sustainable operations is not just a matter of excellence, but an obligation for next generations. One small change with great effect would be putting the emphasis on the life-cycle approach rather than the up-front efforts needed to achieve transformation.

Interested in becoming a LEED Committee volunteer? Start by taking a look at the current volunteer opportunities and learn more about LEED Committees.

Apply to be a committee volunteer

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