Monday, January 4, 2010

Cincinnati USGBC chapter wins national advocacy award

The Cincinnati chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has been presented with the Award of Excellence for Advocacy & Influence during the USGBC's 2009 Chapter Awards of Excellence presented last month at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Phoenix.

One of seven of USGBC's 78 local chapters to win an award, Cincinnati's was recognized for building the capacity of its Advocacy Circle, which helped to influence local and statewide policy.

"We were the only Chapter to receive an Advocacy Award, so it is a very high honor which sets us apart from the other chapters in the nation," said Chad Edwards, USGBC Cincinnati chapter vice chair.

Shawn Hesse chaired the chapter's advocacy efforts, which led to a surge in volunteerism.

"The dramatic increase of involved volunteers on the Cincinnati Advocacy Committee is really a testament to the strength of the green building movement in Cincinnati," Hesse said. "In 2009, the number of actively engaged volunteers more than doubled for the entire chapter, not just the advocacy committee. All we had to do was write down what volunteer roles were needed, and we immediately had volunteers ready to jump in to support green building policy and legislation at the local, state, and even federal levels."

The USGBC award also highlighted the establishment of 11 specific local initiatives, including:

  • Ohio House Bill 7, which would require all projects built or renovated with state money to achieve 30 percent saving over ASHRAE guidelines and to achieve LEED Silver certification
  • Ohio House Bill 1, which would modify residential energy code adoptions in Ohio to adopt the most recent International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) standards
  • Local advocacy, A pilot project to create and manage a database of interested individuals to testify to or petition City government officials
  • Campaigning for sustainability on The Banks project, stormwater and rain collection issues, green schools, and green homes
  • Coordinating with the Blue Green Alliance for a town hall event featuring Cincinnati City Council candidates
  • Supporting the Cincinnati streetcar, through a letter of support to Cincinnatians for Progress
  • Engaging Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, getting him to sign the Mayor's Alliance for Green Schools
  • Assisting in the creation of the City of Wilmington's "Green Enterprise Zone" legislation, which the city later passed.
Hesse said that the chapter has been making inroads nationally as well. This past September, he traveled to Washington, D.C. with two other chapter members and representatives from Columbus and Cleveland to meet with Representatives Steve Driehaus and Jean Schmidt to discuss national building energy efficiency and green jobs.

"It's really an exciting time to be part of the chapter's advocacy role because it really does feel like we are making a difference," he said.

"Our chapters are the driving force behind USGBC's efforts to make green building a reality for everyone within a generation," said Heather Tomlinson, USGBC vice president of community. "Chapter staff and volunteers dedicate time and resources to take important action locally through advocacy, outreach and education in order to produce positive results globally, and their work certainly deserves recognition."

In addition to the 78 local chapters, USGBC is made up of more than 20,000 member companies and organizations and more than 131,000 LEED Accredited Professionals.