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Welcome to Building Capacity at O’Brien & Company

KathleenOBrien-web Why “Building Capacity”? As part of launching this blog, I thought it might make sense to tell you why we’ve named it “Building Capacity.” Sustainability is a term of art for an idealized condition – in which we humans modulate our use of the earth’s resources, get to participate in a resilient green economy as a result, and share the benefits of doing so equitably. Every one of us here at O’Brien & Company is committed to using our expertise, intuition, and passion about green building and sustainable development to achieve this vision. And I know from my conversations with you over the years that this is your commitment too.

It’s a tough assignment in a world that naturally resists change (who doesn’t?), but one we can’t ignore. So how can we create conditions for effective movement towards this vision? One reason for resistance to change is the level of risk that that change represents. Building capacity reduces that risk by lessening the distance between here, and there. So, with this blog, I’ll be focused on providing an informative forum that helps us all build our capacity to do things better – really.

Forum implies an exchange of ideas. I’ll be posting interviews with folks we’ve worked with that highlight problems, solutions, and lessons learned we think are transferable to your projects. We invite you to comment, and to especially share your experience regarding similar issues. (Experience is another way to reduce risk because we actually know what we’re in for– but we don’t ALL have to fall in the ditch!)

Our consulting staff will also be responding to questions you submit. Keep in mind 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. And of course, blog users can comment on our answers too! So lots of dialogue is what I’m looking for, hoping to address the intriguing, the pragmatic, and the sometimes perplexing aspects of achieving a truly sustainable built environment. We’re never bored, and you shouldn’t be either! — Kathleen O'Brien

2 Responses to “Welcome to Building Capacity at O’Brien & Company”

  1. Mary Emeny

    Thank you for this blog. I am with a group working to turn a 350 acre caliche mine into a sustainable – better yet a regenerative community, one that is continually embodying more and more energy in the soil, the buildings, the people, and the surrounding community of Amarillo, Tx. We are thinking of the entire community as a school – community as school, school as community, because none of us has all the answers to living sustainably so we need to always keep learning how to do it better. We think of sustainability as the base, not the goal…(Do you want a “sustainable” marriage? ) That is why our operative word is “regenerative”.
    We have the land, we have lots of enthusiasm, we have a graduate architecture class working on design as part of our emphasis on education, we also have commitments from a group working to develope community based housing for handicapped adults to be part of our community, called Mariposa Village, What we need next is a masterplan….Do you have any leads on grants to help fund a masterplanning process.
    FYI, I got the lead to you from Brian Nelson, “The Homeless Architect” out of Santa Barbara, CA, who works mainly with rescue missions, homeless shelters, and in our case here church camps..
    Thanks, and again thanks for the blog
    Our website is under reconstruction

  2. Kathleen

    Hi Mary, thank you for your comment. You are doing such good work in Amarillo (google is such as wonderful tool!)! I love the concept of envisioning the community as a school. I’ve always espoused that “green” buildings should teach, but you’ve taken that to a whole new level. Thank you. Would love to dialogue with you in real time about the project. Please contact me at

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