The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced 10 inspiring individuals, companies, organizations and projects have been named 2020 Leadership Award recipients. The honorees are at the forefront of green building and working to advance healthy, resilient and equitable buildings and communities. USGBC will be honoring this year’s recipients on Thursday, November 12 at 5 p.m. EST during the closing event at the Greenbuild Virtual conference.
“Our 2020 Leadership Award recipients understand that by investing in healthy, green buildings and communities we are not only improving quality of life for people, but we are also taking steps to strengthen our businesses and economy,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, USGBC and Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI). “These recipients are an inspiration and celebrating their achievements is a bright spot during a year that has challenged us all. Their work reminds us to be hopeful and stay the course, because a commitment to green building will be a key part of rebuilding a better world.”
The recipients represent public and private sector leaders who have shown a commitment to LEED, as well as improving Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance, enhancing citywide sustainability and resilience, and introducing innovative waste management solutions. This year’s honorees include:
Inspiring Individuals Leading the Way
Chris Castro, director of sustainability and resilience, City of Orlando started as a USGBC student at the University of Central Florida, then became an Emerging Professional, and today is a recognized advocate for sustainability nationally. His consistent leadership helped Orlando become a LEED Gold city. His priorities include decreasing the city’s carbon emissions by expanding building energy efficiency, renewable energy, and electric vehicles; implementing green building policies; championing infrastructure projects that prioritize pedestrians and bicyclists; advancing zero-waste programs for recycling and food waste diversion; and increasing opportunities for urban farming by partnering with local public and private organizations to increase community gardens and local food access. He is also co-founder of several non-profit and B-corp companies, including IDEAS For Us, Fleet Farming, and Climate First Bank.
Geoff Morgan, president and CEO, First Community Housing (FCH) oversees all operations for the nonprofit, which is dedicated to developing affordable housing in San Jose and the greater Bay Area. Morgan holds a LEED AP Homes credential and has over 20 years of experience in financing, development, construction and operations of affordable housing projects, subdivisions, commercial real estate, historic renovations and military base reuse. His work with FCH, a USGBC member for 18 years, includes providing over 3,000 residents with high quality, sustainable, service enriched affordable housing. He leads a LEED Platinum and LEED Gold neighborhood and community development that support low-income individuals and those with special needs. Today, under his leadership the standard for FCH projects is LEED Platinum.
Kim Shinn, principal and senior sustainability wizard, TLC Engineering Solutions has been actively involved in the design or commissioning of over 200 LEED certified projects. His work has included higher education, justice, healthcare and laboratory spaces, as well as pilot projects for LEED for commercial interiors, core and shell, and neighborhood development. Shinn holds a LEED AP and is part of the inaugural class of 2011 LEED Fellows. He was an integral part of creating LEED for Healthcare and Green Guide for Health Care and currently serves on Nashville Mayor’s Sustainability Advisory Committee.
Kenya Stump, executive director, Kentucky Office of Energy Policy played an integral role in helping Kentucky become the first state to leverage the U.S. Department of Energy’s State Energy Program funding to implement PEER. Her efforts led to certification for three facilities including Fort Knox, Electric Plant Board in the City of Glasgow and Nolin Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation. Stump has remained an advocate for bringing reliable, resilient power to America’s power sector and has been integral in helping to replicate her success with PEER across other State Energy Offices.
Gail Vittori, co-director, Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems is the recipient of this year’s Kate Hurst Leadership Award. Introduced last year in memory of USGBC’s senior vice president of conference and events, the award recognizes an inspiring woman who embodies the spirit, strength and sentiment Kate brought to her own work. Vittori is a LEED Fellow and former USGBC and GBCI chair whose own work is focused on the intersection of sustainable design, green building and human health. She’s worked on public and private projects around the world, including Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, the first LEED Platinum certified hospital in the world.
Outstanding Companies, Organizations & Projects
Autodesk is a long-standing member of USGBC and believes sustainability is about creating tools that enable customers to optimize the use of energy and materials, design for health and resilience, and learn new skills to adapt and prosper through change. The company powers its buildings, data centers and cloud services with 100% renewable energy and has reduced its GHG emissions by 43% since 2009. Starting in FY21 they are committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions across their entire footprint, including supply chain. They have achieved 15 LEED certifications and are supporting other projects around the world in their journey to certification using their Building Information Modeling (BIM) software. Through the Autodesk Foundation, the company is also providing funding, software and training to entrepreneurs and innovators designing and creating solutions to the world's most pressing social and environmental challenges, leading industries to more sustainable outcomes.
Chumash Casino Resort is the sixth largest Native American gaming operation in California. Managing its waste is a critical function for the resort, Tribal Ownership and the community. Its innovative approach to diverting waste earned it TRUE Silver certification. From 2004 to 2018, the resort reduced its total waste stream from 7.2 million pounds per year to 3.2 million. During the same period, it also increased recycling from 6% to 90%, established a food donation program to support local seniors, and developed a public education campaign highlighting best practices for the community. Employee education was critical to its success and led to the resort creating the Native American Sustainability Facility Association.
TCF Center is a 2.4 million square foot convention center in downtown Detroit that achieved LEED Gold in October 2019 under LEED v4.1 O+M. It is one of only a few convention centers in the world to certify under that rating system. TCF is a high-performing green building and the team is dedicated to ongoing performance measurement through Arc. It invests in educating employees, vendors, customers, partners and visitors on its efforts and the importance of sustainable practices. The center is also a steward of human health and in response to this year’s pandemic, was designated an alternate care site where it was prepared to provide medical care space for the overflow of local Detroit hospitals.
Vanderbilt University is home to 21 LEED-certified buildings, WELL and PETAL projects and incorporates sustainability into their construction and renovation projects. The university has fully committed to carbon neutrality by 2050 and incorporates renewable energy power on campus. Vanderbilt’s sustainability goals were created through a collaborative effort between administrators, faculty, staff and students. The university is comprised of over 340 acres of real estate and as one of the largest employers in the region, is responsible for more than 10,000 commuters daily. Vanderbilt leadership views constructing green buildings and a park-like setting on campus as a necessary strategy to ensure environmental responsibility, as well as ensuring efficient spaces for future Commodores.
Vornado Realty Trust achieved the GRESB Green Star Ranking in 2019 for the seventh year in a row, scoring in the top 6% of over 950 companies worldwide. They are one of the largest owners of LEED-certified properties in the U.S. with more than 27 million square feet of LEED certified space, which represents over 95% of its office portfolio, and the majority of which is at Gold or Platinum level certification. The company is focused on the next frontier of sustainable real estate and is concentrating on technology, resilience and health as part of that journey. It uses green cleaning services in all of its owned and managed properties and is working toward a goal of reaching a landfill diversion by 75% for all new properties and at least 50% for all tenant improvements.
The Leadership Awards represent some of the best of USGBC’s member organizations, network of committed professionals and community of local leaders across the U.S. and around the world.