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What’s new with O’Brien & Company?  Skim the feed, or filter the list using the links on the right.

Seattle Fire Station 22 wins two Merit Awards

Seattle’s newest LEED Platinum fire station has won Merit Awards from AIA Seattle and AIA Washington. See our project page for more details on Fire Station 22’s sustainability features, Priority Hire Program and project team.

A Taste of Living Future 2012

Accessing Funding, Redefining the Economy, and Women’s Leadership were themes providing food for thought at Living Future 2012, held in Portland Oregon. Kathleen O’Brien, Donna Trost, and Chris Edlin, all members of the O’Brien & Company crew, share tasty tidbits from the popular UnConference menu.

Green Communities National Summit Identifies Challenges and Solutions: Keep it Up!

When we transform the conversation from one of subtraction to one of integration, we change the focus from problem to solution. Green building expert Alistair Jackson reports on the recent Green Enterprise Communities National Summit, where a positive collaborative approach, with the assistance of technology, turned the conversation about greening affordable housing on its head.

Emerge: What’s the Difference?

Not a conventional leadership workshop, nor typical sustainable building education, Emerge: Leadership for a more sustainable society is about finding a new way of being in the world that will advance sustainable building through the work of ordinary heroes who serve the greater good. Hear from Kathleen O’Brien, long term green building advocate and founder of the Emerge Leadership Project.

Water Conservation: Hidden Benefit of Energy Efficiency

Developer Quadrant’s energy efficiency program nearly doubles economic savings for Northwest homeowners when accounting for the water saved through Energy Star measures. Alistair Jackson, Principal of O’Brien & Company, and consultant to Quadrant provides data that tells the story.

Is Training the Answer? Not always, says Kelly Kirkland

Training can backfire if something other than lack of know-how is in the way of achieving better building performance. Kelly Kirkland, Education Coordinator from O’Brien & Company, a green building consultancy located in Seattle, WA shares some ways to discern whether its training that you need, or something else.

Another Tool for Building Capacity: Newsletter Reports Trend Observations

Elizabeth Powers recently shared her observations on 2011 trends in the Northwest green building environment in the December O’Brien & Company newsletter. Building Capacity Blog Editor O’Brien points you to this timely article and suggests you “like” the newsletter for 2012 to take advantage its practical bent!

LEED HC – A Sensible Leap Into Sustainable Health Care

Colleen Groll, CSBA and Senior Project Associate at O’Brien & Company, Inc. candidly discusses the usefulness of LEED for Health Care tool and how it’s being applied by Group Health Cooperative in two of its clinics in the Pacific Northwest.

Vision 2050: When Business As Usual Will Be Sustainable

Kathleen O’Brien reviews Vision 2050, a World Business Council on Sustainable Development project, as it lays out a pathway created by business for business to create one-planet living.Vision 2050 has been integrated into the Bainbridge Graduate Institute’s curriculum, a happy development according to O’Brien

Emerge: Leadership for a more sustainable society

In Emerge: Leadership for a Sustainable Society, nationally renowned sustainability expert Kathleen O’Brien provides insights on leadership based on years of experience guiding clients and others to a sustainable built environment.

Today is Kathleen O’Brien Day!

 We learned at the King County Green Tools Government Confluence today that King County Executive Dow Constantine declared today to be "Kathleen O’Brien Day" in honor of her over 20 years of service to the green building community.  Governor Gregoire also … Continued

Part 2: What’s The Story? Developing a Green Building Education Plan – Elizabeth Powers, LEED AP BD+C, CSBA Reports on Developing a Green Building Education Plan

Whether industry-changing and monumental or simple and familiar, all green buildings have something to teach us. Last week, Elizabeth Powers discussed ways to find the interesting and engaging stories in all your projects. This week, Elizabeth discusses how to turn these stories into a “credit-worthy” green building education plan while considering the appropriate audience and application of the information.

Can My LEED Boundary Look Like an Octopus? Elizabeth Powers, LEED AP, CSBA Responds

Almost two years into the use of LEED 2009 ratings system and most project teams are still encountering the system for the first time. When discussing the LEED project boundary, many projects find themselves in a fuzzy area with no definition or direction. Elizabeth Powers discusses the options and methods for deciding your project’s site boundary.

Washington Business Alliance: A sustainable approach

Its more integrated approach to designing and implementing solutions on the ground makes the Washington Business Alliance a winner for this sustainable building consulting firm, says Donna Trost, O’Brien & Company’s Business Manager.

Everything old is new again: Regulatory changes and changes in LEED reinforce waste prevention and source separated recycling as best practice for construction waste management

Regulations and changes in LEED means it may be more difficult to meet the letter of the law or LEED using commingled recycling facilities. Elizabeth Powers, LEED AP, an old hand at construction waste management policies and practice, discusses three issues contractors must consider for non-residential construction projects.

Living Future 2011: Delicious

If USGBC is PC, Living Future is Apple, said Majora Carter at the recent Living Future Conference in Vancouver, BC, Canada. This pearl and more reported back from Alistair Jackson and Kelly Kirkland of O’Brien & Company reveals why this is one of the most transformative conferences in green building going.

“Green” Resident Engagement Cards Inform AND Empower in California Non-Profit Housing Developments: Interview with Maria Elena Marquez-Brookes, LINC Housing’s Director of Resident Services

Maria Elena Marquez-Brookes, Director of Resident Services for LINC Housing, shares how a residential engagement tool developed by Enterprise Community Partnersand customized for LINC helps her fulfill the California non-profit affordable housing developers goal to enhance the lives of residents living in its communities.

Client Health and Autonomy, Building Durability, and Cost Control were Key Drivers for Sound Mental Health’s LEED Platinum Housing Project in Seattle, Washington

Kenyon House is an 18-unit two-story affordable housing project for previously homeless people with disabilities and fragile health. Kathleen O’Brien interviews designer Christina Bollo, getting feedback on using LEED late in the game, restricted budgets and the satisfaction of building a beautiful, sustainable, durable home for those in need.

Knock, Knock, Time to Deal with Your LEED AP Credential: No Joke!

Your LEED AP Credential may be a lasting legacy, but if you don’t update it, your credential may be obsolete. Elizabeth Powers, CSBA, LEED BD+C and ID+C with more than a decade of green building consulting under her belt offers tips and access to a free webinar to help you plan your way out of a possible deadend.

First Time LEED Construction Project Manager Beats Gold and Helps Build Schuchart’s Green Portfolio: Interview with Joe Giaudrone

Joe Giaudrone tackled his first LEED project as Schuchart Construction Project Manager of Bastyr University’s Student Village and beat the goal of LEED Gold to bring in the Platinum. Even the USGBC was impressed! Learn what he did to accomplish this exemplary achievement and build Schuchart’s Green Building Portfolio with this first ever LEED for Homes project.

Zugunruhe: Advice to Anxious Change Agents

At this reflective time of year, Kathleen O’Brien provides an invitation to read Jason McLennan’s new book Zugunruhe: The Inner Migration to Profound Environmental Change, as well as a few words of advice of her own for the anxious change agent.

Creating Effective Energy Efficiency & Conservation Strategies in Your Community (Part 2 of 2)

EECS & Strategic Energy Plans: Part 2 of 2. Kathleen O’Brien (O’Brien & Company) and Katie Spataro (Cascadia Green Building Council) discuss the ins and outs of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation (EEC) Strategy Block Grant money authorized by the National Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Examples of different strategies from cities around the nation can help you get your local government on the move!

Creating Effective Energy Efficiency& Conservation Strategies in Your Community: Getting Started (part 1 of 2)

EECS & Strategic Energy Plans: What are they? Kathleen O’Brien (O’Brien & Company) and Katie Spataro (Cascadia Green Building Council) discuss the ins and outs of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation (EEC) Strategy Block Grant money authorized by the National Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Examples of different strategies from cities around the nation can help you get your local government on the move!

Vulcan’s Sustainable Real Estate Initiatives Have Deep Roots: Interview with Lori Mason Curran and Brandon Morgan

Green building icon Kathleen O’Brien interviews Lori Mason Curran, Real Estate Investment Strategy Director and Brandon Morgan, Real Estate Development Manager on Vulcan Real Estate’s sustainable initiatives in the South Lake Union District of Seattle. They talk about Vulcan’s many firsts, the commercial real estate’s rationale for its deep rooted investment in sustainable development, and contributing factors that explain their success in the green building arena

Green Building Public Education: Writing to Make a Difference

Nothing tells the story of green building better than a green building itself. But it would be challenging if not impossible to achieve the level of understanding, acceptance, and action we need without the written word. Some tips on writing to get the message out, from the mouths of three experienced communicators: Kathleen O’Brien, Joanie Parsons, and Kathleen Warren

Interact with the Blog: Try it, you’ll like it!

Editor Kathleen O’Brien provides tips on how to comment and submit questions to her recently launched, and offers some good reasons to do so: Free good quality advice, Free marketing, and an easy way to help build capacity towards a sustainable future.

Leading design firm shows how to take the parking out of the parking lot. Interview with Walter Schacht.

Parking lot projects are common. They won’t be going away. In this interview with Walter Schacht, leading designer in the Northwest, we hear about how to approach these projects in a whole new light. Schacht discusses two campus parking lot projects (one new construction and one a renovation) that have been selected as pilots for Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™), the nation’s first rating system for green landscape design, construction and maintenance.

Living Future: Life in the Solution

Get a taste of the recent Living Future 2010, the only conference focused on the Living Building Challenge, from the perspective of Kathleen O’Brien, a respected pioneer in the field, recently called the “matron saint” of green building — (not kidding!)

It’s the Bioregion, Silly! Patti Southard Interview

Patti Southard, Program Manager at King County GreenTools, describes the bioregional sustainability effort the County is spearheading to close the governmental gap between natural resource solutions and development policy through its 2010 Government Confluence. (If you work for, with, and in governments located in the Cascadia Region, be there or be square!)

Cracking the Energy Code: What will it Cost Me? Alistair Jackson responds.

On July 1, 2010, the new Washington State Energy Code comes into force.This week, Travis of Topline Builders asked Building Capacity Blog: As contractors, how can we meet the new code without losing our shirts? Are YOU ready? Are you confident your construction practices will meet the new infiltration requirements? Alistair Jackson, head of O’Brien & Company’s residential technical services group responds to Travis’ question with a gameplan you can use to make sure you don’t get caught with your proverbial pants down.

Kitsap LID Leader Goes the Distance: Art Castle Interview

Learn how Art Castle, representing of the building industry in Kitsap County successfully changed LID Policy in Kitsap County and all four cities in its jurisdiction using an Ecology Grant and working with consultants O’Brien & Company, Herrera, and an impressive group of stakeholders. Castle shares his advice on how others could follow his act.

Welcome to Building Capacity at O’Brien & Company

Find out why green building and sustainable development expert Kathleen O’Brien has launched the Building Capacity Blog — a tool to exchange ideas, highlight solutions and lessons learned, and reduce risk as we all work towards a full-bore vision of a sustainable built environment.


Submit Your Questions Do you have questions for the technical staff at O’Brien & Company? We’ll be on the lookout for questions that hone in on nitty-gritty and are likely to generate information that interests our broader reader base. Please … Continued


The Blog “I’ve used your blog…to provide some background on costs of LEED – it’s a good resource.” Seattle Codes Analyst (or Municipal Codes Analyst) Building Capacity provides a forum for dialogue focused specifically on the practical ins-and-outs of green … Continued