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Effective Advocacy through Relationship Building Skills

A Greenbuild 2018 presenter shares tips on building relationships for advocacy goals.

These tips follow up on the Greenbuild Boston session “How You Can Be an Effective Advocate” on November 8, 2017, about specific ways to influence public policy related to green building.

The ability to build relationships is at the core of effective advocacy.

First, to have an impact on matters we care about, it is essential to identify the established leaders on those issues. Strive to get to know them and support their work if it is in line with your values and priorities.

Once trust is built and we get past any existing skepticism, we are more likely to be viewed as credible contributors.

Building relationships

Connecting with established leaders is not enough though. In many cases, there are people who have an interest in an issue, but who have not yet participated in the public dialogue on the issue, and so are not shaping decisions. How do we make sure that, as we are organizing and advocating, we are taking into account a variety of perspectives, experiences, and needs? In order to create a process and achieve results that resonate with various demographics in our community, we need to strive to be welcoming and open.

If we genuinely want to get to know people and explore opportunities for collaboration, we must not expect them to always come to us. We need to offer to go to them. Typically, the further away the person is, the more the effort is appreciated! Instead of a meeting in someone’s office, how about suggesting a tour of the area or a visit to their favorite local coffee shop? They will value the opportunity to show off their community, and the interaction could help break down barriers and reveal commonalities.

If you have the opportunity to meet friends or colleagues of the host while you are there, that can be an effective way to get to know your host and their community better. This type of casual, authentic visit instills a sense of bonding.

Sometimes, when we are trying to advocate for a cause we care about, we think it is best to educate people with data. We might dive right into the substance of the policy proposal, and start hurling numbers at our audience. However, when we take this course, we often skip important relationship-building opportunities and end up with impersonal meetings that fail to leave a lasting, positive impression.

Instead, start by getting to know each other by having a conversation that addresses questions like, “What brought you to the work you are doing? What kinds of things are you working on? Is there an area in which you’d like to become more involved?” This sort of interaction supports an exchange of information, ideas, and contacts. You might bring up a particular issue you are involved in, answer questions about it, pitch a way to lend support and ask for input on who might be interested.

What to avoid

As people who care deeply about creating a more just, sustainable world, it is easy to get frustrated when progress seems too slow. However, frustration can get in the way and cause us to lose sight of the steps we need to take to achieve progress. Frustration may even cause us to act in a way that is counterproductive to the cause.

How do we avoid this common pitfall? Focus on building relationships—and not just with elected officials whom we are trying to influence, but also with fellow community members and other potential allies, such as those with funding capability.

Whenever possible, we should work to build relationships with our opponents, too. Just because we do not agree on one issue does not mean we could not be allies on another. It is also important to know when to step back. If our frustration reaches a certain level, it can be best to encourage someone else to take over who might have a fresh perspective and higher level of positive energy.

Nurture your relationships

Positive relationships involve mutual respect and support. Like plants that need sun and water, relationships require nourishment. So, once you plant the seeds, be sure to tend to the garden.

Project at Greenbuild

Greenbuild is the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. It is the go-to place for the industry to convene and shape the future of the green building and sustainability movement.

This year, the Investor Confidence Project (ICP) and Investor Ready Energy Efficiency (IREE) certification will be featured throughout the conference. ICP is a global underwriting standard for developing and measuring energy efficiency retrofits and is administered through GBCI. Subject matter experts will be on hand and at the GBCI Certification Work Zone (booth #1238) for technical help and to answer questions about IREE certification and training. Register to attend one of the exciting sessions on energy efficiency financing:

  • Driving Investment in Energy Efficiency (Thurs., November 9, 10:30–11:30 a.m.): Whether you’re a firm looking for more financing options, an investor looking for quality, pre-certified projects or a program administrator looking to attract high-quality contractors, private investors and projects, ICP’s nearly $5 billion Investor Network is seeking projects to invest in. Hear about IREE certification and how it can help businesses and programs, and learn how ICP can help differentiate projects as leaders in the energy efficiency field.

Materials strategies in LEED v4

At Greenbuild 2017, get the info you need on materials credits for LEED v4.

The topic of materials is one that spans every phase of a building’s life cycle. It includes considerations of construction waste, specifying materials for the building’s structure in the design and construction phase, making green cleaning choices while the building is in use and determining what happens to the building in the demolition phase.

Quick facts about construction waste:

  • Construction and demolition waste constitutes about 40 percent of the total solid waste stream in the United States and about 25 percent of the total waste stream in the European Union.
  • In aggregate, LEED projects are responsible for diverting more than 80 million tons of waste from landfills, and this volume is expected to grow to 540 million tons by 2030.

Materials decisions are impacted by an array of stakeholders who work with the built environment and those who support it, as well as by those who work, learn, live and play within those buildings.

LEED projects divert more than 80 million tons of waste from landfills

What LEED does with materials

Since its initial launch, LEED has always addressed materials, and the newest version of the rating system is no different. LEED v4 brings a shift that goes beyond materials decisions focusing on single attributes and moves the market toward conversations about optimizing environmental, social and health impacts and gaining a better understanding of the trade-offs.

The LEED Building Design and Construction materials credits and prerequisites include:

  • Prerequisite: Storage and Collection of Recyclables
  • Prerequisite: Construction and Demolition Waste Management Planning
  • Prerequisite: PBT Source Reduction—Mercury
  • Credit (5–6 points): Building Life-Cycle Impact Reduction
  • Credit (2 points): Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Environmental Product Declarations
  • Credit (2 points): Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Sourcing of Raw Materials
  • Credit (2 points): Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Material Ingredients
  • Credit (1 point): PBT Source Reduction—Mercury
  • Credit (2 points): PBT Source Reduction—Lead, Cadmium, and Copper
  • Credit (2 points): Furniture and Medical Furnishings
  • Credit (1 point): Design for Flexibility
  • Credit (2 points): Construction and Demolition Waste Management

The LEED Operations and Maintenance materials credits and prerequisites include:

  • Prerequisite: Ongoing Purchasing and Waste Policy
  • Prerequisite: Facility Maintenance and Renovation Policy
  • Credit (1 point): Purchasing—Ongoing
  • Credit (1 point): Purchasing—Lamps
  • Credit (2 points): Purchasing—Facility Management and Renovation
  • Credit (2 points): Solid Waste Management—Ongoing
  • Credit (2 points): Solid Waste Management—Facility Maintenance and Renovation

Join USGBC at Greenbuild 2017 in BostonIndia, and China, to learn more about LEED and materials. In addition to educations sessions, Greenbuild in Boston and India will feature Expo halls where attendees can interact with the newest and most innovative products the market has to offer.

The Boston Greenbuild event will also include a special session on LEED v4 and its materials and resources section:

Course: LEED v4 and Materials: Interactive Session

Thurs., November 9 from 5–6 p.m.

Residential offerings expanded at Greenbuild 2016

Published on 13 May 2016Written by Taryn Holowka Posted in Education

The 2016 Greenbuild Conference and Expo, which will run from Oct 5 to 7 in Los Angeles, Calif., will feature expanded education on the residential green building market.

Homes represent a critical piece of the buildings industry: not only are they the structures in which we spend a majority of our time, they’re also a sizable and valuable segment of the industry as a whole.

Consider some facts:

  1. Home buyers expect newer homes to be greener and more energy-efficient.
  2. Builders expect more than 60 percent of homes built to be green by 2020.
  3. Green homes are healthy homes—83 percent of homebuilders and remodelers believe consumers will pay more for healthier homes.
  4. Home appraisers are recognizing a greater value in green homes.

And this year, Greenbuild has expanded the offerings designed specifically for those in the residential building and construction community:

  1. Residential Track featuring educational sessions on single and multifamily buildings
  2. Residential Day: 12+ residential sessions offered on Thursday, October 6
  3. Dedicated residential product pavilion in the Expo Hall
  4. Concept Home built on show floor by KB Home

Expanded partnerships with leading organizations in the residential building community

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) provides third-party verification of the features and effectiveness of green buildings and was originally created as a green building rating system for commercial projects. Recognizing the market readiness and need for a similar certification program for residential buildings, USGBC launched the LEED for Homes program in 2008. The residential LEED rating system is a specialized program that addresses the specific needs of residential projects built to be efficient and sustainable, because every LEED-certified home is a healthy, resource-efficient and cost-effective place to live.

LEED homes are built to be healthy, providing clean indoor air and incorporating safe building materials to ensure a comfortable home. Using less energy and water means lower utility bills each month.

Greenbuild, the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building, features three groundbreaking days of inspiring speakers, invaluable networking opportunities, industry showcases, LEED workshops and tours of the host city’s green buildings. For the last 14 years, the ideals and passion of the green building community have come alive at Greenbuild. Join the thousands in the green building community this October who agree that green building is not only good for the environment but also good for business.

Taryn Holowka

Senior Vice President, Marketing, Communications & Advocacy U.S. Green Building Council

Member employees, USGBC staff


Future Greenbuild Dates Announced Through 2019

Published on 23 Jul 2015Written by Marisa LongPosted in Media

Internationally renowned, the world’s largest conference and expo 
dedicated to green building to rotate cities

Washington, D.C. — (July 23, 2015) — Dates were announced for future Greenbuild International Conference & Expo events through the year 2019 by Informa Exhibitions and the U.S. Green Building Council.

“We are committed to rotating Greenbuild to very accessible locations to maximize attendee participation and exhibitor confidence. We ensure Greenbuild takes place in different geographic locations and have scheduled a strong line-up that will take the event to the West Coast, Northeast, Midwest and Southeast,” said Lindsay Roberts, Greenbuild group director, Informa Exhibitions. “We’ve also considered other industry events with our proposed schedule to ensure we aren’t in direct conflict.”

Greenbuild will continue its pattern of rotating around the U.S. on the following schedule:

2016: Los Angeles Convention Center | Los Angeles, CA | Oct. 5-7

2017: Boston Convention & Exhibition Center | Boston, MA | Nov. 8-10

2018: McCormick Place (West Building) | Chicago, IL | Nov. 14-16

2019: Georgia World Congress Center | Atlanta, GA | Nov. 20-22

“Many factors are considered in regards to the location of Greenbuild, including the sustainability climate of the city we’re considering,” said Kate Hurst, vice president, community advancement, conferences and events, USGBC. “The selected cities are conducive to sustainability and the mission of Greenbuild – from walkability of the convention center area and public transportation options to initiatives currently taking place within each city – all these factors contribute to our ultimate decision.”

Future dates for the international Greenbuild events, including Greenbuilding Brazil and Greenbuild Europe and the Mediterranean (EuroMed) will be announced in the coming weeks.

Greenbuild, owned and operated by Informa Exhibitions U.S., Construction & Real Estate and presented by the U.S. Green Building Council, is the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. The three-day conference attracts 20,000+ attendees and 600 exhibitors annually from across the green building sector, spanning commercial and residential professionals, architects, building owners and operators, students, advocates and educators. This year’s event takes place at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. Nov. 18-20.

Marisa Long

Public Relations & Communications Director U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff



USGBC gets ready for Greenbuild 2015 with Sec. of Navy Mabus

Published on 19 Jun 2015Written by Marisa Long Posted in Community

The National Capital Region of USGBC and Informa Exhibitions, the owner and operator of Greenbuild, was honored to host Secretary of the U.S. Navy Ray Mabus at a luncheon celebrating the Greenbuild International Conference & Expo coming to Washington, D.C., this November.

USGBC President Roger Platt took a few moments to introduce Sec. Mabus, who has long been a powerful voice for the role sustainability plays in how we can secure our country and better protect those who defend it. His participation in this exciting D.C. event is a strong reminder of how important government and military are to the green building movement.

The luncheon also featured remarks by USGBC CEO and Founding Chair Rick Fedrizzi and USGBC-NCR Board Chair Chris Ashworth, and Sec. Mabus was honored with a USGBC Leadership Award.

Greenbuild, the nation’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building design and construction, is aptly themed ‘Monumental Green’ for 2015. Each year, 20,000+ attendees and 600 exhibitors from across the green building sector, spanning commercial and residential professionals, architects, building owners and operators, students, advocates and educators come together for the conference. This year Greenbuild is taking place from Nov. 18-20 in Washington, D.C.

 Marisa Long

Public Relations & Communications Director U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff


Water Safe, Water Smart—Build to Code

Published on 21 May 2015Written by Grant Olear Posted in Advocacy and policy

Water safety takes center stage of Building Safety Month, Water Safe, Water Smart – Build to Code. The International Code Council’s (ICC) website features tips on staying safe from water related hazards. When using and managing water in a building, plumbing codes provide the foundation for safe conditions.

USGBC has collaborated with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Professionals (ASHRAE), the International Code Council, ASTM International, American Institute of Architects (AIA), and the Illumination Engineering Society (IES) to develop the International Green Construction Code (IgCC).

The code, established with the intent to be adopted on a mandatory basis, includes provisions for water efficiency such as metering, rainwater collection systems, gray water reuse systems, and reclaimed water systems. These and other advanced strategies are incorporated into the California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen)—the nation’s only statewide code to tackle a range of green building priorities.

Green buildings also contribute to community safety by managing stormwater flows to reduce development’s contribution to downstream flooding. Additionally, given freshwater scarcity, green buildings have an important role to play in conserving, protecting, and restoring freshwater resources.

USGBC is putting this in to practice at the William Jefferson Clinton Children’s Center, otherwise known as Project Haiti. The building is set to employ a closed-system system that will collect, treat, and store water on-site. Grey and black water will be fed into a bioreactor to be filtered and cleaned for reuse in landscaping.

Grant Olear

Green Building Policy  Associate U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff



New Green Roof Homes “Sprouting” in Sydney


  • BRENDAN WONG REAL ESTATE REPORTER/inner west courier inner city

Three new terrace homes featuring green roofs covered with native plants that can grow in small amounts of soil with minimal water are going up in Newtown, Australia- a suburb located just 4 miles from the Sydney Central Business District.

Similar in concept to vertical gardens, the new green roofs will help provide thermal and acoustic insulation to three bedroom, two bathroom homes. Homes that also feature solar heating, a courtyard for added green space, and a lockup garage that can be converted into a fourth bedroom for car-free residents.

Architect and builder Oliver Steele says the idea behind the terraces is to build upscale dwellings that are energy efficient and have a low carbon footprint. “Everything from the foundations to the paint selection has been considered on an environmentally friendly basis. The concrete for the constructions is recycled. The windows are double glazed and low e-coated so they will be extremely energy efficient. The paints and interior finishes will be zero or low VOC so they’re not off-gassing, which is common in new houses. In terms of the design, we’ve used a lot of thermal mass and heavy insulation so the houses create their own comfortable year-round internal temperature independent of the fluctuations of summer and winter and without the need for air-conditioning.”

Natural ventilation was an important consideration in designing the homes. “There is an internal pond under the staircase and a retractable glass roof over the staircase which creates an internal atrium,” Mr. Steele says. “You get light coming down the middle of the house and any air that does warm up in summer will rise up out of the roof and draw in the cold air from the lower levels.”

The new homes will be ready for occupancy in April, 2015.

LEED Certification

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non profit organization that certifies sustainable businesses, homes, hospitals, schools, and neighborhoods. USGBC is dedicated to expanding green building practices and education, and its LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™.

Chemline, Inc. is a member of The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and has the potential to provide LEED points.