Mikaela Kieffer

Learn what three LEED volunteers find rewarding about serving on LEED committees.

Raja Tannous, Carrie Havey and Elizabeth Torres all serve as volunteers on a LEED Committee or LEED Working Group. They share a common goal of advancing sustainable market transformation and play a critical role in ensuring that LEED remains effective and relevant and continues to transform the market.

Learn more about their experiences as LEED volunteers:

Why did you apply to be a volunteer?

Havey: I work as a Sustainable Design Consultant in Concord, Massachusetts. I applied several years ago because I was interested in finding new ways to get engaged with the USGBC community and wanted to become involved in the technical development of LEED. I have a background in planning and landscape architecture, so I thought the Sustainable Sites Technical Advisory Group (TAG) would be a good fit for me.

Tannous: It was important to help promote, reward and advance consensus-based, scientific-based and transparent standards in the green building rating systems. LEED has been the leader and greatly influences other building rating systems and standards.

What roles have you filled as a USGBC volunteer?

Torres: I have served on the Social Equity Working Group as a member, and currently as the co-chair.

Havey: I served for four years on the Location and Planning TAG, and have been on the Sustainable Sites TAG for almost a year and a half.  My role on these two TAGs has been to provide technical advice on credit and prerequisite improvement, support tool development and make recommendations to rating system development.

Tannous: As a member of the Indoor Environmental TAG, I have worked on low chemical-emitting materials and indoor air quality measurements and improvements.

On average, how much time do you dedicate to LEED Committee work?

Tannous: The time varies based on the current activities of the group—usually, two to three hours a month.

Havey: An average of about five hours a month.

Torres: Typically between seven and 10 hours per month—probably two hours per week, depending on what we are working on.

What advice would you give to a new LEED committee volunteer?

Havey: I would recommend brushing up on (or getting familiar with) the LEED reference guides. In addition, spend at least an hour before each call reviewing the materials sent to you, so that you are prepared for the call and ready to ask questions and give feedback.

Torres: Find opportunities to educate and represent diverse stakeholders involved in the industry. Bring all your expertise and networks to the table, so that we make the pie bigger instead of dividing it.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a LEED Committee volunteer?

Tannous: Helping to evaluate and advance the latest national and international testing standards to improve indoor air quality and protect the health of people. Interacting and learning from experts who come from different sectors of the green and sustainable building world.

Havey: USGBC is in the process of developing the LEED v4.1 rating system, and the Sustainable Sites TAG is engaged in providing feedback and making updates to the Sustainable Sites credits. This is an exciting process to be involved in and a chance to make an impact on the future of LEED.

Torres: The Social Equity Working Group has lead a number of initiatives, some even beyond the scope of what a typical working group may have done, and all of them with the ultimate goal of ensuring a more inclusive and socially equitable built environment through LEED. Another great experience I have had is being able to work directly with industry experts I have admired for so long.

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

Tannous: Education: Teach the occupants to understand and appreciate the amount of energy and resources that goes into making a better building. Get the occupants more involved in continuous improvement activities and encourage feedback logs.

Torres: Increasing their energy and water efficiency. In times like these, when we’re on the brink of severe water scarcity and fossil energy is getting more expensive, this small change in how we conceive buildings has a great impact on how the economy, our quality of life and our ecosystems will be developing in years to come.

Volunteer for a LEED committee