Saturday, July 17, 2010

Interview with Anica Landreneau, Sustainable Design Practice Leader with HOK, Washington DC

Anica Landreneau is a regular blogger for The Green Workplace and a real dynamo at HOK. It's incredible she has the time to blog given her reponsibilities... stewarding hundreds of LEED Certification projects across our practice, helping elevate sustainable thinking at the firm and writing green policies for the General Services Administration, the District of Columbia and others. Here are some of her thoughts...

Q: What is your current role at your organization?
A: Sustainable Design Practice Leader at HOK. My team has both internal clients (design teams at HOK) for whom we provide sustainable design guidance, and external clients (e.g. GSA, DC government, private companies) for whom we provide guidelines, policies, implementation strategies and tools.

Q: How have recent legislation or corporate/federal mandates changed the way your organization addresses environmental issues?
A: Sustainability is no longer a feel-good option. It is mandated by law or driven by market demand to a point of contractual obligation. Every project we work on has sustainable targets. This means that the workforce in this market is starting to be pretty knowledgeable about green buildings. This translates to building occupants starting to know more about how the built environment can be green and asking about workplace behavior and practices that they can employ to do their part.

Q: What green / sustainability-related project are you working on now that you are most proud of?
A: We’re developing educational materials for the U.S. Green Building Council on how to green existing schools. It’s a tremendous feeling to think we’ll be indirectly improving the learning environment for students all over the U.S. through our work. Most jurisdictions have tighter budgets right now and there aren’t a lot of new schools going up. We’re addressing the millions and millions of square feet of all those old, unhealthy and inefficient schools out there!!

Q: What has inhibited you or your organization from making more progress on the sustainability front?
A: A lot of our owners don’t want to be the first project to try something new (or new in the market region) so there is a perceived barrier to adoption for new products, materials, and technologies. Our industry also tends to worry about trying new materials out on a building if we haven’t seen them in performance on another building for 20-30 years! This makes what we do as individuals – through changes in our behavior – even more important since we can have an immediate impact while the market is slower to adopt new technology.

Q: What advice would you give others in your position trying to make a difference for the environment?
A: Keep at it and savor the small victories!! This is a social movement and sometimes just influencing a small number of people or projects in small ways has enormous impact over time. it’s easy to get frustrated when we think we’re not getting enough done – but every new project is a new opportunity to go a little further. It adds up!


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