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2012 February EcoHour Recap: Green Building Panel

By Terrie Clifford

US Capitol

Did you know that the Empire State Building is actually a green building and that a local woman played a key role in getting the well-known NYC landmark LEED – certified? Katrina Managan, a program manager with the Institute for Building Efficiency at Johnson Controls shared her career experiences in green building along with those of two other amazing female building sustainability experts at February’s Eco Hour.

Co-panelists, Seema Wadwha, a LEED AP  and the director of sustainability at Urban Ltd., and Kristin Anderson Arnoldi, a project manager at DC’s Greenshape LLC,  discussed the victories  and challenges of their work with to a packed house on Tuesday, February 21.

Managan, who spent five years doing climate change legislation for the National Wildlife Fund transitioned to a green building role because she ‘wanted to get closer to the ground’ on sustainability issues.  The Empire State Building project has a three-year payback, Managan said, adding that her recent survey of 4,000 facility managers indicated that lack of capital and financing are the chief obstacles to U.S. companies investing in making U.S. buildings more energy efficient.

Seema Wadwha found herself in a cutting edge role when she agreed to lead INOVA Health Systems sustainability projects.  “We had to define what sustainability looks like in the health care industry,” she said. “Green buildings are a strong physical representation of what your organization believes in.  For Inova it became clear that building healthier buildings that use fewer carcinogens and are more efficient to operate is close to their mission of being health care leaders.”   She was delighted to see a surprise manifestation of INOVA’s stated goals of driving employee engagement and community engagement through a healthier, greener building.   During the project some of the hospital’s engineers made a secret garden on the roof using recyclable materials. “It was proof that they were realizing the value of green buildings”.

Kristin Anderson Arnoldi’s work involved overhauling an ancient DC landmark to LEED-Gold standards. “The Department of the Treasury was built between 1839 and 1869, so you can imagine how inefficient it was,” she said.  She takes pride in the fact that the project is estimated to save U.S. taxpayers $3.5 million dollars annually. That project also had an interesting surprise.  “We discovered that the White House was actually stealing their water for irrigation from the Treasury building and no one knew about it,” Arnoldi recalled.

The Green Buildings Panel had some career advice for Eco Women pursuing careers in green building: Katrina Managan advised – “Reading as much as you can to be the technical expert you want to be as well as networking. There is a lot of free info on websites out there.” Kristin Anderson Arnoldi concurred. ‘Go to events at the U.S. Green Building Council and network.” Seema Wadhwa’s advice was almost spiritual. “I don’t think the education is important as the drive to do the work. This work is a calling. “


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