Green Building Alliance in Perm

After a really cool exploration of Moscow, these intrepid Green Building Alliance travelers have made it to Perm, in Russia’s Ural Mountain region.We took an Aeroflot flight in the middle of the night and arrived in Perm early Monday morning.

Michael presenting at the building expo.

Michael presenting at the building expo.

Our incredibly helpful host, Elena, met us bright and early at the airport. After a quick nap and cleanup (we never actually slept the night before!), we headed to a tour of an outdoor museum showcasing historical wooden buildings, constructed in the 17th to 19th centuries. Before embarking on our green, high-performing building tour, it was interesting to see some of the region’s historical methods of construction.

On our first full day in Perm, we presented information to students and faculty at Perm National Polytechnic University. In the morning, we spoke to a group of 30 people about green buildings in Pittsburgh, renewable energy, 2030 Districts, and LEED and other rating systems. Later that day, Janel and I taught a LEED Green Associate course to a group of students while the rest of our cohort met with the vice chancellor of the university.

Hugging the city's oldest tree on our walking tour.

Hugging the city’s oldest tree on our walking tour.

On Wednesday and Thursday, our whole group – including our traveling companions Guy (Russian Green Building Council) and Dmitry (Greenstroy) – participated in a building and real estate conference. We participated in a few panels specifically geared toward healthy and high-performing buildings. We also met with a large development group about the costs and benefits of green buildings. Michael, Guy, and Dmitry met with members of Perm’s deputies club and participated in a press conference.

We were asked many great questions during our meetings and presentations in Perm and people wanted to know what we thought of the city, how it compares to Pittsburgh in terms of construction and development, and what lessons they can learn from our experiences in sustainability.  Other presentations at the expo were quite  compelling, including those on Earth Ships in France, local university initiatives, and one by our old friend Katia about her experience in Pittsburgh.  We found a  group of enthusiastic young developers very  refreshing and they presented information about their vision for a healthier built environment.

Elena, Sean and Katia

Our time in Perm exposed us to much of the regional academic community. This seems to be where most of the interest in sustainable development lies, at least in terms of what we experienced during our visit. University educators and researchers are identifying opportunities for natural resource conservation, sustainable community planning, green design, and more. It has been really exciting to witness some of the same enthusiasm and ingenuity that many of our friends and colleagues in Pittsburgh demonstrated some 20 years ago. (It reminds me of stories from Marc and Christine Mondor about the early days of GBA.)

Sean left us Friday morning to head back to Pittsburgh. We’ll miss his savvy travel skills and amusing attempts at the Russian language! After one more LEED Green Associate prep course at another local university (the class included ecology students, faculty members, and two local architects who wanted to learn more about LEED), we embarked on an eco-tour. Two professors from the university led us on a rafting trip along a local river where they showed us some stunning protected territories that the university worked to preserve.

Our trip to Perm was incredible and allowed us to teach, learn, and become exposed to a culture that evoked a sense of the past and the future all at once. In some ways, Perm is just like Pittsburgh was 20 years ago in terms of its construction and planning performance, but in other ways the city is well on its way and even ahead of us. Again, the enthusiasm and openness of those we have met while in Perm has been invigorating!

I want to give a shout-out to our tremendous hosts, guides, and interpreters in Perm (it cannot be easy to translate a LEED Green Associate prep course!!). They have enabled our trip to be engaging, educational, and very productive! Thank you to all who made this leg of our journey possible!

Next up, we hop a train to Yekaterinburg! Stay tuned!

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