Monday, June 16, 2008

Q/A with Lisa Grayson Zygmunt

How long have you been involved in Greening the Heartland and in what roles?

I founded/launched the conference with Nick Peckham in 2004. Nick, an architect, is a founding member of the Missouri Heartland Chapter in Columbia, MD. The first conference took place in Columbia and attracted approximately 400 people. My company, Resource Dynamics, Inc. (RDI) launched and managed all aspects of the conference and continued to do so for the following two years. Last year in Madison, the conference was combined with an existing conference that the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance ran. The managed all aspects and I was not involved.

What kinds of growth have you seen over the years?

The attendance has not necessarily continually increased. The second year we were in Chicago and had approximately 800 people attend. The following year we were in KC and dropped back to around 400. I understand that the attendance in Wisconsin last year was approximately 700. This year I anticipate that we’ll be somewhere between 700-800.

What excites you the most, personally?

What excites me is the rate at which green building is gaining recognition - the importance of the role it plays in addressing so many issues that are finally on most peoples radar screen’s now. Rising fuel costs, global warming, declining natural resources, economic viability, health and social equity issues - etc. etc. Green building is an important tool that must be incorporated/institutionalized into our building and building management practices. What also excites me is the growing number of people - growing in depth and breadth - in the field. We are far from mainstream, but on a fast track to getting there. It’s been exciting to see the progression from a point from where people thought a green building was the color green to most now have a general concept of what a green building really is.

What particular portions of the proceedings have you enjoyed the most over the years? Are there some events that stand out in your mind as particularly impressive and/or inspirational, a couple years on?

Another thing unique about GTH: it was really on the cutting edge as a regional U.S. Green Building Council event. Until this time USGBC Regional Chapter Conferences/Events were not happening - so to have this type of event originate in the Midwest rather than the typical west or east coast locations is notable.

What is the energy generated by such an event?

I think what stands out at all of the GTH conferences is connection. The people who are in this field are passionate, dedicated individuals who come to this event to connect, learn and grow – so there is a lot of very positive energy that pump attendees up to go back to their jobs not just with new ideas, tools and resources but also with a heightened level of energy and inspiration.

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