The USGBC – Leading by Example

It may not look green.  It may not feel green.  It may not even sound green, but everything about the USGBC’s headquarters is green.  The U.S. Green Building Council’s new corporate headquarters in Washington D.C. is a sparkling example of sustainability and goes to prove that sustainability does not preclude crisp, new age style.The first two items you might notice could well be the spiffy terrazzo floors and the glass over glass over glass airy look.  The walls are crisp and white and feature 500 year old salvaged wood timber.Design has been created by environmentally sensitive Envision Design and complies with the USGBC’s “ideas-and-ideals into action” program.  Envision Design is one of the foremost Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) design in the country.Washington-based Envision Design was co-founded by Kendall Wilson and partner Diana Horvat.  Their first project was the Greenspeace headquarters in 1999.  At that time, green design was more conceptual than practical.  The growth of Envision Design parallels the growth of the sustainable movement and the expansion of the USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) rating system.The sustainable movement took public endorsements from environmental spokespersons Al Gore and Ed Mazria and turned downwind.  LEED® and the USGBC had been the major players in establishing benchmark sustainability standards ever since.In 2005, the USGBC celebrated the registration of one thousand projects.  In 2008, more than 9,000 projects were LEED® registered.  Actually, the first green standards program was the UK’s Building Research Establishment Assessment Method.  The USGBC’s LEED® original program caused architectural angst and was far from perfect, like the sustainable movement itself.  However, the council willingness to engage, observe and adjust has established the LEED®’s leadership role.“LEED® really upped the ante for green building.  Everyone complains about LEED®, but there’s no debate that it has been transforming in terms of demand,” said Wilson.  The new USGBC headquarters is worth a visit and well worth a tour.  Where else will you see lighting that consumes less than half a watt per square foot?

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