Heather Goetsch
2 minute read

Cast your vote for the volunteer award by Friday, Oct. 18.

Thanks in part to the dedicated volunteers who contribute to the green building movement each year, USGBC continues to advance a healthier, more sustainable and more prosperous built environment in communities across the globe. The USGBC Malcolm Lewis Volunteer IMPACT! Award recognizes a high-impact, volunteer-driven project or initiative. Learn more about this award.

The project receiving the most votes by 12 p.m. EDT on Friday, Oct. 18 will be formally recognized at the Leadership Awards Reception at Greenbuild on Wednesday, Nov. 20 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Please contact Heather Goetsch with any questions.

Nominee 1: LEED Gold School of Environmental Studies

First high school student-led initial LEED v4.1 certification.

View the project slideshow.

LEED Gold School of Environmental Studies

Photo courtesy of Steph Leonard, USGBC Minnesota.

A five-year effort between the School of Environmental Studies (SES) and USGBC Minnesota led to the development and benchmarking of sustainability strategy and incorporated the hard work of over 40 SES students and volunteers—resulting in the first initial LEED v4.1 Operations and Maintenance certification for a school led by students. The project focused on benchmarking the school’s performance with Arc and student-led improvement projects, including applying green cleaning and energy efficiency best practices and waste management efforts.

Nominee 2: Block House, Solving Homelessness

The Block Project is a paradigm shift to end homelessness, inviting homeowners to host a small energy-positive, water-neutral, and red-list-free home in their backyard to end homelessness.

View the project slideshow.

Block House homelessness project

Photo courtesy of Ben Roush, USGBC Maryland.

The project's vision is to help end homelessness by building a small home (called a "BLOCK home") for someone in need on every residential block in Seattle, Washington. Through this, the team hopes to enhance relationships and create thriving communities that come together to support one another. The Block Project has built six homes, will finish the ninth this year, and is on track to build six more in 2020.

Nominee 3: Build and Buy Green Hawaii

Build and Buy Green Hawaii holoholo [moves to] Kauai for mālama 'āina [environmental protection] and in solidarity for #globalclimatestrike. Strategic partnership and dedicated volunteers bring light to the challenges coastal communities face to meet global climate goals while balancing local sense of place.

View the project slideshow.

Build and Buy Green Hawaii

Photo courtesy of Melanie B.Y. Islam, USGBC Hawaii.

Hawaii is the most fossil-fuel dependent state, and with isolated energy grids, the cost of electricity is the highest in the nation. With bold clean energy goals to be the nation’s first 100 percent renewable energy portfolio by 2045 and to reduce electrical consumption to 4,300 gigawatt hours by 2030, partnership and education is essential to achieving this goal.

Build and Buy Green Hawaii is a forum held annually to bring attention to the issues critical to achieving healthy, efficient, equitable and regenerative communities in Hawaii. Commonly held in Honolulu, a dedicated volunteer steering committee that includes members from the USGBC Hawaii Market Leadership Advisory Board, the Hawaii State Energy Office and Renew Rebuild Hawaii made a conscious decision two years ago to bring Build and Buy Green Hawaii to the neighboring islands and counties to expand the conversation on green building and resiliency in our state. The forum was held on Kauai and focused on the island’s very Hawaiian approach of embracing planning, preservation and sense of place to address issues commonly faced by coastal communities: severe weather events, housing shortage, traffic congestion and tourism.

A series of educational sessions and site tours brought together over 60 architects, engineers, landscape architects, planners, policymakers, building operators, landowners and students. Tours were led by design teams and nonprofit organizations, and participants were able to see firsthand the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative's 55 percent renewable energy portfolio:

  • Tesla Solar Plus Storage site, Algae R&D farm and Kauai Island Utility Cooperative Kapaia power plant;
  • LEED Platinum affordable housing projects: Kolopua Workforce Housing and Kaniko’o Senior Housing Phase 1 and 2;
  • Kauai’s first LEED-certified building: the National Tropical Botanical Garden’s Juliet Rice Wichman Botanical Research Center; and
  • Limahuli Garden and Preserve recovery efforts from the 2018 Hanalei floods.

An inspirational keynote lecture by LEED Fellow and AIA Fellow Mary Ann Lazarus on the topic "Resilient Design in a Transformative Age" was a timely and poignant call to action. It brought to light the power of strategic thinking and decision-making to address global issues at the local level. The group’s dedication to green building and sustainability was memorialized through two actionable efforts—they stood in solidarity with Greta Thunberg’s global climate strike preceding the UN Climate Change Summit; and they also gave back to Limahuli Garden and Preserve through mālama 'āina of native landscapes.

Cast your vote for the IMPACT! Award