Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Posted by Picasa
These are the photos from the USGBC Advocacy Day in Sacramento
July 8th 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

USGBC Advocacy Day at State Capitol

Okay, so this is my first post, here we go…

On Wednesday July 8th 2009 a group of people from the US Green Building Council gathered from all over the state in Sacramento. Our goal was to introduce the USGBC to the Senators and Assembly folks at the Capitol. There were people from the 8 Chapters in California. I belong to the Northern California Chapter (NCC). For almost two years I have been the Program Chair of the USGBC-NCC Silicon Valley Branch. It’s has been a pleasure to meet other people in the Architecture, Construction, Design, Engineering and others people in industries interested in sustainability.

Although my two year term is almost up, I want to see how I can help with the issues at hand-- by sharing information about the Built Environment that will help cut down on the Co2 and make our world a more sustainable place.

I’m not a morning person, so when the alarm went off at 5:00am my instincts were to roll over and throw the alarm across the room, but that morning I jumped to my feet and made some coffee. This was going to be the first time that a group of USGBC folks went to the State Capitol to share knowledge with our government.

The USGBC is a volunteer organization and is a 501C3 non-profit made up of 20,000 businesses in the US. There are 114,000 registered LEED AP’s (LEED, AP= Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Accredited Professionals) and in March itself over 100,000 people registered for the test to become LEED AP’s. This is a powerful group of people and we are hoping to help make a business case for greening up buildings.

Hence the “USGBC Advocacy Coalition Day” at the State Capitol.

When my commuter partner and I arrived in Sacramento at 8:30am, we went into the meeting place that the USGBC staff people had picked Ambrosia Café (thank you Ashleigh and the rest of the USGBC staff!). There was a meet and greet, introductions and then an overview of what was to come.

We looked the key Legislation and the 31 bills that the USGBC is supporting. AB 3 for workforce development: Renewable Energy, Authored by John Perez is one of them and another key one is AB 828 Green Building Standards, Authored by Ted Lieu. There are many that did not make this list and our main purpose was actually to introduce people from each of the USGBC Chapters to the Senators, Assembly members, and their staff. (If you are interested in the other bills on the list, please email me and I will send you that information).

We did a brief overview of the Green Building Code and more logistical information was also given out. We then broke into four groups of 6 to 8 people. The groups were given an agenda for the day with preset appointments. I was in group B with Dan Geiger, USGBC-NCC Executive Director, Ashleigh Talberth USGBC-NCC, Suzanne Nolan Advocacy Chair for USGBC-NCC, Paul Wermer the one of the key people on the USGBC-NCC CA Advocacy Coalition, and the rest of us as Volunteers in the USGBC-NCC Advocacy Team for the day: Nick Burton, Max Perlman and myself. (Joel Baumgardner who is also leading up the USGBC-NCC Advocacy Coalition ad the Chairperson, joined us later in day after a meeting for his day job!).

At 10:30am it was time to walk over to the Capitol. Our schedule included Assembly members: Julia Brownley, Dave Jones, Tom Ammiano, Ira Ruskin, Jerry Hill and Jared Huffman (for some of these folks we met with their Chief of Staff). We also met with Senators: Carol Liu, Fran Pavely, Ellen Corbett and Lois Wolk (again some of these folks sent their Chief of Staff).

Suzanne Reed was one of the Chief of Staff we met with and she works for Carol Liu. They Authored the AB32 bill and this was probably one of the best meetings we had. Another memorable moment was meeting with Ira Ruskin. He is our local Assemblyman for San Mateo and Santa Clara County. He was genuinely concerned in hearing what the people had to say who volunteer hours of their time to help with the USGBC.

In all, there was 38 meetings set up for us with all four groups at the State Capital. According to Justin Malan with price Consulting - USGBC Northern California Chapter advocate. He has been working as a lobbyist for many years and was most impressed with the reception that USGBC received from Legislators and staff. "This is by far the most successful first Lobby Day that we have participated in. With the 8 California chapters now unified, we will soon see USGBC become a significant voice in the Capitol," Justin noted.

One key point is that 40% of carbon emissions are from the built environment, so obviously to look at how we are doing things with the building industry needs to be examined at very carefully by our government. We can reduce carbon emission by 30% to 40% with green building. The standard that the USGBC has created with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a tool that has proven business cases (ROI) for building owners. To this point one of the things that was clear is that making a business case to some of the politicians is key (and I will not mention names here). That if we can prove that you can save money now ---which you will by implementing green building--- then we can win over the people in government that still do not believe that there is a climate problem and that things need to change. The message was repeated to us in many of the offices we visited, that there are some at the Capitol that still do not believe that changes needs to happen- very sad!

Later in the evening we retreated to Ambrosia Café again and debriefed. When all four groups returned, one person from each group talked about the groups experiences for the day. In all, it was a very positive day and we made good connections. It was a great start for USGBC California Advocacy Coalition.

I’m glad I could do my part to be there as small business owner, and in all, the day was worth my time. I met a lot of people from around the state and got to hear the pre-process of lobbying at the State Capitol. The USGBC-NCC is looking for more advocates to help with their next day at the Capitol, so if you are interested you can contact: suzanne@suzannenolan.com

If you are interested in coming to a USGBC-NCC, Silicon Valley Branch Program meeting, the next one is on July 14th at DGA Architects in Mt. View, and the topic is Co2. You can register online at www.USGBC-NCC.org.