Thoughts on construction law from Christopher G. Hill, Virginia construction lawyer, LEED AP, mediator, and member of the Virginia Legal Elite in Construction Law

JRGBC- Local Action on LEED

Originally posted 2011-02-01 12:07:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For this week’s Guest Post Friday, we have a real treat. Megan Miller is the Executive Director of the James River Green Building Council (JRGBC), the Central Virginia Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. The JRGBC serves local and national membership in the Central Virginia region and endeavors to move the green building industry forward with market-based solutions. Based in Richmond, Virginia, Megan was previously the Communications and Marketing Manager for the Airports Council International-North America. As the first Executive Director for the JRGBC, Megan works with many sectors of the building community in the region to promote and educate on behalf of green building initiatives.

Once upon a time, long, long ago (or more like seven years), a handful of Richmond local architects got together to figure out how to bring more green building initiatives to Richmond. At the time, the only recognized legitimate green building organization (arguably) in the country was the USGBC, still an organization in its youth. So they toiled away through countless meetings of pizza and 501C 3 forms until they formed the James River Green Building Council, the Central Virginia Chapter of the USGBC. That group of architects was not even close to being done. The founding Board members effectively ran the JRGBC for years, only recently earning the kind of cash flow that would enable them to take some of the work off of their own backs and shift it to the backs of committees of volunteers and me, their first Executive Director. When I started here a little over a year ago the JRGBC was an organization in the midst of enormous transition and growth, much like the USGBC. And it still is.

Over the years, the public perception that the JRGBC was a big group of architects and the reality of the membership demographics was consistent. That reality has shifted, but the perception has not. Our most recent membership survey, conducted in June of 2009, indicates that JRGBC members are comprised of people from all different ages and backgrounds, a large percentage of which are contractors, and a smaller but still significant percentage of which are, you guessed it, lawyers. This tiny nonprofit, while still in its youth, has grown its membership by over 50% in the last year alone, and we continue to grow. The overall green building market (both non-residential and residential) is likely to more than double from today’s $36-49 billion to $96-140 billion by 2013 (Source: McGraw Hill Construction (2009). Green Outlook 2009: Trends Driving Change.) This is an industry you simply cannot afford to miss out on. It makes good business sense and good environmental sense.

So…you might be wondering, well, what exactly does the JRGBC do? The mission of the James River Green Building Council is to promote cost effective design, construction and operation of buildings that are healthy places to live and work, environmentally responsible, and profitable. We accomplish this mission through two main avenues: education and advocacy. Our advocacy efforts have grown significantly in the past few years; from a single founding Board member speaking to the General Assembly to combining forces with every other Chapter in Virginia to speak in a unified voice for our members. Our educational efforts are combined with networking opportunities to create the maximum value for our members.

We hold a year-long luncheon series, “Personal Choices to Regional Solutions,” that focuses on individual and community choices that affect overall sustainability. In addition, we host USGBC LEED Workshops to familiarize people with the rating system and assist them in their LEED Accredited Professional exam prep. We have two LEED Workshops this fall, to be followed by our 5th Annual Green Building Leadership Awards Luncheon and Exhibition on November 16th at the Virginia Historical Society.

The JRGBC has a lot going on. It sounds corny, but I am so proud to be working for an organization that is working toward improving the environment, our health, and the bottom line. It is tremendously satisfying to be surrounded by and caught up in such momentum, and by the volunteers that make this organization what it is by putting in their time, effort and creativity. If you want to be involved in our efforts, you can simply read our e-newsletter, attend an event or two, and then be on your way. But what Chris was saying in his Monday blog post is very true. Just like anything in life, you get out what you put in. Our volunteers reported a 95% satisfaction rate with their experience with us in our last Member Survey, which means that although we are changing and growing, and it can be frustrating at times, we are doing something right.

LEED will not be around forever. Most if not all of the people involved in green building today acknowledge that. It will change, morph and evolve into something better and more effective and more streamlined and “greener.” For today, however, it is here. Even in slow-to-make-up-its-mind Richmond (and because I’m a Richmonder I’m allowed to say that). And while it’s here, your clients are going to want to learn it and use it on their projects. It only makes sense for you to be beside them.

For more information about the James River Green Building Council, visit http://www.jrgbc.org or call (804) 288-2950.

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