Launch Slideshow

2013 Focus-Area Experts

Ten green building experts will lead the 2013 Vision 2020 initiative.

2013 Focus-Area Experts

Ten green building experts will lead the 2013 Vision 2020 initiative.

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    TEDD BENSON. Since 1973, Tedd Benson has been the founding owner of Bensonwood. Over four decades, Benson has steadfastly championed high-performance, sustainable home building—always with an emphasis on innovation, quality, and social responsibility. He and his company have been featured often on This Old House, segments of Good Morning America and the Today Show, as well as in numerous magazines and newspapers, including New York Times, Boston Globe, Atlantic and Fine Homebuilding. In addition, Benson has authored four seminal books on timberframing, the first of which, Building the Timber Frame House, (Scribner’s Sons, 1980) was instrumental in the revival of this centuries-old form of building with heavy timber. Benson is a frequent keynote speaker and session presenter at conferences around the U.S. and overseas. Over the past 15 years, his search for a new and better way to build has resulted in an exclusive design/build system called Open-Built, and recently in the founding of a new company, Unity Homes, which specializes in off-site fabrication of high-performance homes.

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    ALLISON EWING. Working on commercial, institutional, residential, and mixed-use projects at both large- and small-scale, Allison Ewing’s architectural experience spans 25 years and three continents. In 2005, Ewing joined Chris Hays to form the partnership of Hays + Ewing Design Studio, a firm engaged in the integration of principles of ecology with modern design. Prior to forming Hays + Ewing, she was a partner at William McDonough + Partners where she led a range of institutional, residential, and mixed-use projects. Ewing has also worked with the Renzo Piano Building Workshop in Genoa, Italy; Cesar Pelli & Associates in New Haven, Conn.; and Chermayeff and Geismar in New York City. Ewing has been a speaker at a number of events including at the Harvard GSD on "The Sustainable House" (2010), as plenary speaker at the Canadian Sustainable Building Symposium (2007), Ecobuild (2006), and as panelist at the Residential Architect Magazine Reinvention Conference (2005). Ewing's work has won awards at the local, state, and national level and has been published in EcoHome, USA Weekend, Dwell, and Custom Home, among others.

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    MARK FRANKEL. Mark Frankel is the technical cirector for the New Buildings Institute (NBI), which develops programs, policy, training, and research on high-performance buildings and energy efficiency for organizations all over the country. Currently Frankel is involved in national coalitions to improve building performance feedback, market adoption strategies for deep-energy retrofits, and in the development and implementation of innovative codes and programs focused on building performance outcome and benchmarking. Frankel has been consulting on energy efficiency and sustainable design for over 20 years. His work has encompassed a broad range of technical topics, including lighting and daylighting, passive and high-performance mechanical systems, commissioning, energy modeling, site design, IAQ, stormwater management, and water efficiency. Frankel also has consulted on hundreds of capital projects, ranging in scale from single and multi-family residential projects to large commercial buildings and portfolio strategies. Frankel serves on the board of directors of the U.S. Green Building Council, and on the boards of the International Living Future Institute and the Seattle 2030 District. He is a LEED Fellow and a licensed architect.

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    BOB SAHADI. Sahadi leads the Institute for Market Transformation's work to develop and expand energy efficiency financing solutions for homes and commercial buildings. This includes legislative initiatives such as the SAVE Act, a proposal co-developed by IMT to factor energy cost savings into residential underwriting standards and home appraisal practices. Sahadi was previously managing principal of GreenSpace Investment, a green residential financial advisory service. He has held senior positions at Fannie Mae, where he was vice president of product development and vice president of mortgage-backed securities. While at Fannie Mae, Bob oversaw the development of the corporation's energy-efficient mortgages and green innovations, including Smart Commute for location efficiency, HomeStyle for renovation lending, and a patented protocol to measure residential energy efficiency. He also managed the Home Counselor Online business platform, which served more than 2,000 housing counseling agencies nationwide. Sahadi has held multiple positions in the federal government, at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in the Executive Office of the President, and at the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, where he was chief economist.

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    DENNIS CREECH. Dennis Creech is a co-founder of the Southface Energy Institute, a private nonprofit organization promoting sustainable homes, workplaces and communities. He has served as executive director for more than 30 years. Under his leadership Southface has grown to a staff of 60-plus people offering education, research, advocacy, and technical assistance programs. Southface partners range from Fortune 100 companies to community-based affordable housing developers. Creech has served on the Board of Directors of RESNET, the Energy and Environmental Building Association, Affordable Comfort, the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association, the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance, the Southeast Watershed Forum, Georgia Watch, EarthShare Georgia, and the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership. Creech is a LEED-AP and has received numerous professional awards including the Georgia Environmental Professional of the Year, a Legacy Award from the Energy and Environmental Building Association, designation as one of the “100 Most Influential Georgians” by Georgia Trend, an Environmental Lifetime Achievement Award from the Atlanta Business Chronicle, and a Green Hero Award from Greenlaw. Creech frequently writes and speaks on energy and environmental topics ranging from green building to sustainable business practices. He often serves as a media spokesperson and has been featured by sources ranging from CNN to the New York Times.

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    MARK LALIBERTE. Through his lectures, site assistance, video series, and a mobile app, Mark LaLiberte provides builders, architects, and manufacturers with an in-depth look at the current and future state of housing. His work has earned him a Lifetime Achievement Award from EEBA where he developed the highly acclaimed Houses that Work lecture series. He has provided technical assistance to the Cold Climate Housing Research Center in Fairbanks, Alaska for seven years and has also helped develop the training curriculum for the 2012 Repair Corp Project for Habitat for Humanity that provides assistance to improve existing housing for U.S. veterans. LaLiberte also works with various manufacturers to assist in developing products and services for the next phase of efficient homes. He is the co-creator and partner at Construction Instruction Inc., which developed the No. 1 mobile App in the construction industry. He is also a partner in the Millau Group, lending his expertise to sales and marketing efforts for the building industry. LaLiberte reaches over 7,000 industry people each year traveling over 100,000 miles annually throughout the U.S. and Canada.

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    MARILYN BLACK. Dr. Marilyn Black is a leader in the study of the impact of low doses of chemical exposure on human health, and in finding ways to reduce that exposure. She has a particular experience in reducing chemical exposure to children. Dr. Black founded the Greenguard Environmental Institute, a nonprofit organization that oversees the International Greenguard Certification Programs. Greenguard has been instrumental in driving the marketplace to safer materials for construction and interior furnishings in the built environment. She is also founder of Air Quality Sciences, Inc. (AQS), a testing and research leader focused on chemical and biological air pollution, including environmental chamber testing and its application in evaluating human health risks of indoor materials, furnishings, cleaners and electronic equipment. In 2011, AQS became UL Air Quality Sciences through acquisition by UL (Underwriters Laboratories), an independent testing and certification organization. Dr. Black is currently working with UL’s not-for-profit organization to develop a better understanding of the role of chemical toxicity associated with construction materials and furnishings, its relation to human health, impact on fire safety science, and advancement to safer products. With more than 25 years s of experience, Dr. Black participates in numerous important national and international scientific organizational initiatives, research projects and community outreach programs. She has been recognized with a number of prestigious public service awards, has presented and published extensively in the indoor air quality and human health field, and provided expert testimony.

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    TOM LENT. Lent has thirty-five years of experience in environmental analysis primarily focused on healthy and resource-efficient building technologies and the health, environmental, and social impact of buildings, materials, and energy. He helped coordinate development of the Pharos Project, the Health Product Declaration, the Green Guidelines for Health Care (GGHC), LEED for Healthcare, and the Sustainable Bioplastic Guidelines and sits on a variety of other standard-setting committees for indoor air quality, green chemistry, and healthy building design. Lent has co-authored a wide range of studies of the comparative health and environmental impact of building materials and speaks nationally on these topics. Lent currently is responsible for the development of hazard assessment resources and rating criteria for the Healthy Building Network’s Pharos Project, an online tool for assessing the health and environmental impact of building materials, including a Chemical and Material Library that aggregates authoritative hazard listings for over 20,000 substances. He also coordinates the technical development of the Health Product Declaration, an open standard format for the communication of content and health hazard information about building materials. Tom has been honored with the EPA's Region IX Environmental Award for Outstanding Achievement and the U.S. Green Building Council National Leadership in Advocacy Award for his work transforming the building materials market.

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    JOHN NORQUIST. John Norquist's work promoting New Urbanism as an alternative and antidote to sprawl’s social and environmental problems draws on his experience as big-city mayor and prominent participant in national discussions on urban design and school reform. Norquist was the mayor of Milwaukee from 1988 to 2004. Under his leadership, Milwaukee experienced a decline in poverty, saw a boom in new downtown housing, and became a leading center of education and welfare reform. He has overseen a revision of the city's zoning code and reoriented development around walkable streets and public amenities such as the city's 3.1-mile Riverwalk. He has drawn widespread recognition for championing the removal of a .8 mile stretch of elevated freeway, clearing the way for an anticipated $350 million in infill development in the heart of Milwaukee. In naming Milwaukee America’s Most-Underrated City in 2001, the Utne Reader said Norquist “understands what makes cities work as well as anyone in America.” Governing magazine named him Public Official of the Year in 1998. He is the author of The Wealth of Cities (Addison-Wesley, 1998) and has taught courses in urban planning and development at the University of Chicago, Marquette University, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning. Before he was elected mayor, Norquist represented Milwaukee in the Wisconsin legislature.

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    PAULA KEHOE. Paula Kehoe is the director of water resources for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). She is responsible for diversifying San Francisco’s water supply portfolio though the development and implementation of conservation, groundwater, desalination, and recycled water projects. Kehoe is also responsible for preparing local ordinances to increase water conservation requirements and to encourage the use of alternate water sources. She previously served as the assistant to the general manager and contributed to the development of the SFPUC’s $4.6 billion capital improvement program designed to rebuild and repair the third-largest water delivery system in California. For more than seven years, she served as public education director for San Francisco’s Water Pollution Prevention Program receiving six state and national award, including the Water Environment Federation’s Public Education Award and Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies’ National Public Education Award.

ECOHOME magazine is kicking off the 2013 Vision 2020 initiative, the second year of a unique team-driven research program to identify and explore critical challenges to sustainability, with the inauguration of 10 new Focus Area Chairs. Repeating the 2012 model, the 2013 program will engage 10 of the nation’s foremost experts in key sectors of sustainable design who will convene quarterly to share research, uncover technological innovations, and map a critical path toward sustainability for the residential construction industry between now and 2020.

Vision 2020’s experts, dubbed Focus Area Chairs, represent the key sectors of sustainable design, including building design and performance, codes and standards, economics and financing, efficiency and building science, indoor environmental quality, materials and products, sustainable communities, and water efficiency. In 2012, chairpeople included past Hanley Award winners Ed Mazria of Architecture 2030, Alex Wilson of Environmental Building News and the Resilient Design Institute, and Sam Raskin of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Vision 2020 Focus Area Chairs for 2013 are:

Building Design + Performance
Tedd Benson
Founding Owner, Bensonwood Homes

Allison Ewing 
Principal, Hays + Ewing Studio

Codes, Standards, and Rating Systems
Mark Frankel 
Technical Director, New Buildings Institute

Economics + Financing
Robert Sahadi 
Director Energy Efficiency Finance Policy, Institute for Market Transformation

Energy Efficiency + Building Science
Dennis Creech 
Executive Director, Southface Energy Institute

Mark LaLiberte  
Vice President, Construction Instruction

Indoor Environmental Quality
Marilyn Black, PhD 
Founder, GreenGuard/UL Environment

Materials + Products
Tom Lent
Policy Director, Pharos Project, Healthy Building Network

Sustainable Communities
John O. Norquist
President, CEO, Congress for the New Urbanism 

Water Efficiency
Paula Kehoe
Director of Water Resources, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

Click on the slide show above to learn more about each expert. Click here for more about Vision 2020