Leading the way to sustainability

Posted on Jan 5, 2011 by Theresa Lehman

Last week I had the opportunity to sit down with some of Milwaukee’s sustainable leaders at Miron’s recently completed office space, which is in the process of seeking LEED certification under the Commercial Interiors (CI) rating system in the only LEED Core & Shell certified building in Wisconsin. We took time to share information on local initiatives and projects and talked about ways that we can partner to educate people on sustainable concepts and the triple bottom line benefits of being green.

Clay Nesler, vice president of global energy and sustainability for Johnson Controls, discussed Johnson Controls’ sustainability projects. Clay and I also shared our thoughts on our recent trip to Cancun for the World Climate Summit, a business and finance conference accelerating solutions to climate change, as well as the UN COP16.

Matt Howard, environmental sustainability director for the city of Milwaukee, spoke about Milwaukee Energy Efficiency (Me2), a community-wide effort to create private sector green jobs while reducing energy bills and pollution, improving Milwaukee’s housing stock and helping the city become energy independent. Matt also spoke about the city’s green efforts.

Scott Peak, director of university housing for the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, talked about the green initiatives happening at the university. Scott also spoke about the recently completed Meltwater, UW-Milwaukee’s carbon neutral house project for the 2009 Solar Decathlon Competition that will be available for meetings beginning Spring 2011. He also spoke about Cambridge Commons, the student housing project that is seeking LEED Gold certification.

Milwaukee has an amazing group of talented and energized sustainable leaders throughout the community.  The ideas we shared regarding energy efficiencies, renewable energy technologies, green roofs, water use reduction strategies, grey water collection systems, alternative transportation options and the importance of high indoor air quality, all come back to a common theme – education.

One of the most rewarding experiences I have as Miron’s director of sustainable services is making a difference and positively influencing the way people think and behave.  To make a difference, people have to be willing to learn how sustainability impacts their bottom line, their health and well being and the environment.  Being able to use a building not only as a place to house an activity but also as a teaching tool to demonstrate how sustainability can be integrated into design, construction and operations is inspiring to our clients, partners and employees, especially when they recognize the benefits on their own.  For some, the benefit of sustainability is purely economics – saving money long-term. For others, it’s about attracting and retaining top talent or customers. For some, it’s about gaining market share or reducing environmental impacts. For others, it’s about enhancing the health and well being of the building occupants.

Regardless of why, sharing best practices and educating people about sustainable opportunities is what drives us as a company.  At the end of the day, we know that buildings are the number one carbon emitter, which gives us the single largest opportunity to impact global climate change.  To make a difference, private business leaders need to partner with educators and government entities, and that’s what we’re doing – working together to find ways to partner, educate and demonstrate the benefits of sustainability and best practices.

What are some of your sustainable success stories? Please share them here.

About Theresa Lehman

Dedicating her entire career to sustainable practice, Theresa has worked on more than 70 projects seeking LEED® certification utilizing the LEED®-NC, LEED®-CI, LEED®-CS, LEED®-EBOM, and LEED® for Schools green building rating systems. She has successfully certified projects that have earned LEED® certification at all four award levels including: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Her portfolio of LEED® projects includes many “Wisconsin firsts” such as the first State of Wisconsin LEED® certified project, the first healthcare facility, the first LEED®-EBOM Schools, the first LEED® for Schools project and the first zero-net energy / carbon neutral project–the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center–the “greenest building on the planet” according to Rick Fedrizzi, former President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council.

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