LEEDing The Way: KA’s Involvement in the U.S. Green Building Council
U.S. Green Building Council®
As builder of the first LEED® certified building in Minnesota,* Kraus-Anderson has long been committed to sustainable construction. One way we show that commitment is as an active member of the U.S. Green Building Council® (USGBC®). The organization’s goal is to create global sustainability by promoting the way buildings are designed, built and operated to be more healthy and energy efficient. USGBC manages the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program, the most widely used green building rating system in the world. LEED certification is the mark of buildings that are sustainable in their construction and operation.
KA is very fortunate to have two employees on the USGBC Minnesota chapter’s board: Senior Project Manager David Kray, LEED AP BD+C, and Professional Development Director Mike Smoczyk, LEED Green Associate.
Both Smoczyk and Kray have served on the USGBC’s Minnesota Market Leadership Advisory Board, a group of strategic influencers working with the organization to develop and implement programming that supports its local, regional and global goals. Smoczyk was elected as Kraus-Anderson’s representative on the Minnesota Market Leadership Advisory Board in 2011, and served until 2017, when Kray was elected.
“Being on the board helps keep me informed of local green building market trends and maintaining relationships with key green building players and influencers.” said Kray, LEED accredited professional for 10 years. Beyond board activity, Kray keeps active with the USGBC Minnesota Chapter by attending lunch and learns, quarterly meetings, and their annual Impact conferences. Kray also helps keep other LEED AP’s and Green Associates aware of continued education opportunities and other pertinent sustainability information.
LEED Leaders: Schools
Some of the earliest LEED certified projects have been school facilities. As a former public school teacher and a leader of KA’s continuing education initiative KA University, Smoczyk’s early involvement in USGBC included serving on the Green Schools committee, and helping KA professionals on our K-12 teams attain LEED certification to address their clients’ sustainability goals. At this writing, KA has 65 LEED Green Associates or other accredited professionals on board.
The USGBC will hold its annual IMPACT regional sustainability conference in conjunction with the national Green Schools Conference and Expo at the St. Paul RiverCentre from April 8th to 9th. Kraus-Anderson is a Silver Sponsor of both events.
“This is an exciting year.” Kray said about the event. “This year we expect over 1,000 attendees with an expanded exhibit hall, more high quality education opportunities and more networking opportunities than ever before.”
“When I started at KA in 2007, sustainable construction was an area of emphasis, so being a part of the USGBC was very helpful,” said Smoczyk. “I attained my LEED Green Associate credential in 2009 and taught numerous LEED exam prep classes at the various KA offices.” At this writing 65 KA employees are LEED Accredited Professionals or LEED Green Associates, thanks in part to those efforts.
Today, while not all owners are driven to attain LEED certification, the USGBC is having a positive impact on buildings of all shapes and sizes.
“Since 1995, the USGBC LEED program has shed light on the importance of sustainability in the built environment,” Smoczyk said. “As thousands of projects worked to meet the initial standards, owners, architects, engineers, contractors and suppliers quickly expanded their knowledge of sustainable practices. Over the past 20 + years, the USGBC has gradually raised the bar for sustainable buildings and influenced building and energy codes and best practices in design. Today, even if a building does not go through the LEED process, tenants will enjoy a more energy efficient, healthy and environmentally friendly structure.”
Kray adds, “today regardless of LEED goals, we commonly incorporate sustainable practices on job sites such as waste recycling, sealing duct work openings with plastic covers, utilizing low VOC products and flushing new buildings for better air quality before turnover.”
As for the future? Kray said, “My goal is continuing to make LEED certification relevant by helping find additional ways for the organization to re-invent itself while still raising the bar on sustainable design and construction.”
*Westwood Elementary School in Zimmerman, Minnesota, certified in 2004.
Blogger Brenden Nickels contributed to this article. Nickels is a senior office assistant in the KA Twin Cities office.View Comments