Lessons in achieving social equality through green building: Convergence 2016

Jessica Pinkston
Published on: 
Thursday, June 16, 2016

The story of green building is a story about people. Our ultimate goal in advancing the cause of more sustainable built environment is to provide better places for people to live, work and play. USGBC and LEED have traditionally focused on the top 20 percent of the marketplace, driving leadership and raising the bar for design and construction. Determining how we reach the other 80 percent of the population is why we launched ADVANCE—a campaign to help traditionally underserved and underrepresented audiences move along a path to more efficient and healthy places. 

On Wed., June 22, join us at the ADVANCE Institute track at the Community Advancement Summit education sessions at Convergence 2016 to learn actionable steps for achieving this bold social equity vision. Sessions will guide participants through strategies to connect with local community-based organizations and collaborate on achieving green building goals, the impact of which often extend far beyond the physical space of the building. 

Learn how to reach new audiences and engage nontraditional partners at “Cultivating Partnerships in Underserved Communities.” During this session, Sheri Brezinka, Director, USGBC Minnesota, as well as representatives from USGBC’s partner organizations Youthbuild, Neighborworks, Interfaith Power and Light, NOMA and Green for All, will share nuanced approaches for forging sustainable relationships and involving diverse community-based partners to advance green building.

An essential part of reaching a new audience is starting the conversation. In “Kicking Off the Green Dialogue,” Frank Sherman, Director of Sustainability at Spiezle Architectural Group; Maggie Reed,Senior Project Manager at Gilbane Building Company; Doug Widener, Director, Community at USGBC; and Suzanne Haerther, Project Manager, USGBC Georgia, will review best practices for supporting community partners by focusing on their needs, aspirations and existing assets. This session introduces tools and approaches that help define values and vision, build a supportive team and establish a foundation for successful decision making.

The third session of this track, “Building Plans and Focusing on Action,” will equip attendees with the tools to move community partners’ aspirations into a clear strategy. Facilitators Ryan Snow of USGBC; Steph Leonard, Project Manager, USGBC Minnesota; and Omar Youssef, Lecturer, University of Arizona School of Architecture, will present methods to drive action-oriented goal setting with community leaders. Attendees will have a chance to learn from their peers’ real-world successes working with community-based organizations.   

In the final session of the track, Emily Riordan, USGBC Specialist, Grassroots Outreach and Market Development; Leslie Cook, Program Manager, Energy Star Commercial Buildings, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and Josh Dean, Program Manager, USGBC San Diego, will empower participants with the tools and strategies needed to rally community organization to take on LEED O+M certification for their facilities. “Guiding Groups to Green Building Leadership” will also introduce LEED Lab, USGBC’s for-credit higher education program, along with materials to host LEED Hack-a-thon sessions.

Register for the Convergence Community Advancement Summit

Check out this video on community service projects at last year's Convergence: