Working To Bring Public And Private Sectors Together On Environment
By Sean Belk – Staff Writer
April 10, 2012 – The nonprofit trade organization known as the U.S. Green Building Council is often mistaken for a government agency, since many governments, including the City of Long Beach, have adopted its “green” standards as the benchmark for new construction.
But, in actuality, the council is made up of working environmentally conscious professionals involved in a myriad of different disciplines, ranging from architecture and design to construction and planning. Since being developed in the 1990s, the council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) grading system has changed the way buildings are constructed, designed and operated.
AIA, LEED AP, co-owner of Greenside, LLC, and Meg Beatrice, AIA, LEED AP, and principal
of Architecture M, stand in front of the Mark Twain Library. The library, located at
Anaheim Street and Alamitos Avenue, is the first LEED-certified “green” public building
in Long Beach. (Photograph by the Business Journal’s Thomas McConville)
Lance Collins, a licensed architect and LEED professional, co-chairs the Long Beach branch of the U.S. Green Building Council that was formed in 2009 as part of the nearly 1,000-member Los Angeles chapter. He said the U.S. Green Building Council began forming smaller branches as a way to better serve areas that have shown a commitment to green practices and have more localized issues. Other branches in L.A. County include the San Gabriel Valley branch and the Westside branch.
The Long Beach branch, which has about 80 members, brings together private and public entities and individuals on issues that involve the local environment and the green building industry, Collins said.
“Everything works best in a public-private partnership,” he said.” It can’t just be the city saying, ‘we want to do this,’ or a private individual saying, ‘this is what we want.’ They have to work together . . . Where those opportunities occur . . . is where you see the most success.”
The local branch has a seven-member steering committee and holds monthly public program events that draw professionals and interested parties from around the region to Long Beach. With 250 LEED accredited professionals in Long Beach currently, Collins said interest in the group continues to grow.
Some of the more popular events have included a tour of a LEED certified building at the Port of Long Beach, beach cleanups and a recent workshop about “reimagining” urban infrastructure in the city.
Collins, a Long Beach resident who formerly worked for Long Beach-based architecture and design firm Studio One Eleven, co-founded his own firm known as Greenside, LLC in Malibu. He said Long Beach is a prime example of how to make major strides in green building and sustainable infrastructure planning, such as the city’s new bikeways downtown and other efforts that have put the city on the map.
“We have some unique opportunities here for what’s going on in Long Beach,” he said. “Everybody always wants to see real life examples and touch what it’s like . . . So, to provide that resource to everybody and have exposure to meet other professionals working in the industry is very valuable.”
According to the project directory on the U.S. Green Building Council’s Web site, there are a total of 47 public and private structures registered as LEED projects, either certified or in the process of being certified, in Long Beach. Some examples are: the new downtown courthouse; industrial headquarters near the Long Beach Airport; and newly constructed buildings on the Middle Harbor port terminal.
The Long Beach branch’s next program event includes a workshop on how local residents are able to take advantage of rebates and incentives for making energy efficient retrofits to their homes through the state’s Energy Upgrade California program. Certified contractors, the City of Long Beach’s Office of Sustainability and County of Los Angeles representatives are expected to be in attendance. The workshop is being held from 1-3 p.m. on April 14 at Whaley Park Community Center, 5620 E. Atherton St. The event is free, but RSVP is recommended. For more information, visit www.usgbc-la.org.