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  • Lida Lewis

Excellence in the Nation's Capital -

My name is Lida Lewis, and I’m a member of your Market Leadership Advisory Board. I’ve also, for quite a few years running now, been the lead juror for the USGBC Project Awards of Excellence. It’s something I look forward to every year, the process of reading through and awarding, with my fellow jurors, the best that the National Capital Region has built over the past year. And in a metro area like this, which consistently breaks the curve for every sustainable metric you can imagine, it’s truly inspiring work.

I’m joined in the process of judging the project awards by a group of jurors selected for their diversity of professional backgrounds. These individuals also bring to the table a strong history of commitment to sustainable design in their own work, so they know what it takes to walk the walk. From engineers to consultants, contractors to property managers, we truly strive to make sure we have someone at the table who can appreciate the work you do.

Because we in the NCR are all so fantastic, and because sustainability is a continually evolving and aspirational field, we judge our entries on a wide variety of criteria beyond certification. In fact, not all of our awards even require certification, as we know our best sustainability stories are not always contained by the confines of a checklist.

First, yes, we do start with the certification level for each category where this applies. Because of the evolution of our rating systems, we do distinguish between certification versions from v2 through v4, as well as certification levels.

But the very next thing we do is ask, what did this project do to innovate beyond certification? Because of course, the passion we have on our most exceptional projects break the mold and show us where we all can do more.

Then, we move on to the degree of difficulty. We all dream of the projects where we’re handed a blank check and carte blanche on design decisions. But since we’ve all yet to see that become the norm (a girl can dream, can’t she?), we want to know what hurdles the team surpassed, and factor that in against the progress made.

Integrative process is also important, I’m sure you’ll agree. We’ve yet to see a project which has a strong integrative process not make it to the final round of judging. Whether occupants of the facility, an HR manager, building engineers, consultants, or others called in both earlier and later than they might have otherwise been is pushing our work forward. For this reason, consistent work throughout the project timescale with more than just the usual suspects is key.

Similarly, but not quite the same, community engagement factors in as well. From the greater municipality to the microcosm of a tenant environment, all project categories will have some impact on the community into which they are integrated. How this is done might vary by scale—an existing space would engage their tenant community, a neighborhood development might engage local community groups and municipalities, and in interiors we can engage with the occupants of the future space—but it nonetheless applies to everything we do. Because of this, we ask that all project teams describe how their project has engaged the participation of, and been designed to positively impact, their respective communities.

Design flexibility and life cycle impact reduction are other key characteristics of NCR Excellence projects. We seek projects which think beyond the moment in time of the project to hand. That includes the embodied energy involved in getting the project done. But it also includes critical thinking on what happens after the ribbon cutting. Our best projects describe how they’ve planned to accommodate future changes in development planning, building use, organizational change, and structure to minimize future impact on the environment.

Health and wellness integration is also something we want to see from all of our winners. Sustainable built environments strive to be supportive of their occupants, as well as having a light footprint on the earth. We want to hear how strategies, in design and operations, will enhance the wellbeing of those the facilities are designed to serve. We're designing spaces for people, after all--how can you say you have, and will continue to, improve their lives through this work?

And lastly, but I must stress here, definitely not least, is overall project presentation. It’s not just because I’m a designer… We want to make sure we truly see the best of all the hard work you’ve done. We also need to evaluate on each of the criteria we've outlined above, and need you to address each and every one. Because of that, both form and function count…. Submissions should clearly address all judging criteria, be clearly organized, visually compelling, engaging, and easy to read.

Thank you to all who applied. We’re amazed and inspired, each and every year, by the herculean efforts put forth by this community to raise the bar on sustainable design. There’s no small amount of envy amongst the judging panel for what you’ve accomplished. We’ve been working to update the Midsummer Night’s Green website to include the past several years of award winners, and will shortly publish pages for this year, so you can share in more of the exciting details we’re privy to in the awards process. Good luck in your application--we can't wait to see what you do next!

2018 Judging Panel:

Lida Lewis | IIDA, WELL Faculty, WELL AP, LEED AP ID+C, Fitwel Ambassador

Beth Giltner | LEED AP BD+C & ID+C, WELL AP | Senior Sustainability Specialist at *rand Construction

Bharati Bhosale | LEED AP BD+C & ID+C, LEED for Green Homes Rater, BREEAM In-Use, WELL AP, Fitwel Ambassador | Operations Manager at Healthy Buildings

Carol Rickard-Brideau | AIA, LEED AP | Corporate President at Little

Chris Gorthy | LEED AP BD+C | Project Executive at DPR Construction

David Epley | Green Building Program Manager at District of Columbia, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs

Geoffrey Eddy | PE, LEED AP | Associate at ARUP

Joan Kelsch | LEED AP BD+C | Green Building Program Manager at Arlington County

Jonathan Penndorf | FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, RELi AP, Fitwel Ambassador | Senior Associate, Project Manager/Sustainability Leader at Perkins+Will

Martin Sharpless | AIA | Capital Projects Director, Research and Development at Astra Zeneca Pharmaceuticals LP

Mike Babcock | Certified Energy Manager, LEED AP BD+C, LEED AP BD+C | Co-Founder / Managing Partner at Sustainable Building Partners, LLC

Patrick Kunze | PE, LEED AP | Senior Principal at GHT Limited

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