Leaving on a Jet Plane: Green Building Alliance Heads to Russia

This week, a small cohort of Green Building Alliance staffers heads to Russia as part of a peer-to-peer dialogue program with the U.S. State Department and the Russian Green Building Council. As you know, we recently hosted a group of young Russian professionals (see their trip highlights here and here) and now it’s our turn to make the trip. Check out our plans below and stay tuned for regular updates on our journey!

As you might recall, our exchange with the Russian Green Building Council started a few years ago. GBA’s CEO Mike Schiller first made a trip in 2013 and traveled around the country, meeting budding green building professionals, attending meetings, and giving presentations about our lessons learned in healthy and high-performing buildings. Last year, GBA’s Janel Everly, Nancy Hart, and Michael Sobkowiak made a second trip, where they explored areas including Sochi and Nizhny Novorod. This time around, four GBAers are packing their bags and practicing their Russian phrases: Janel Everly, Deanna McPeak, Leslie Montgomery, and Michael Sobkowiak. Oh, and remember our old friend Sean Luther? Sean was GBA’s senior director of the Pittsburgh 2030 District who’s now executive director of Envision Downtown… He’s also joining us for part of the journey!

Our goal is to meet with university students, city planners, construction companies, and developers across Russia to share our green building experiences and learn about theirs. We’ll talk about green building challenges and benefits, compare various rating systems (LEED, Living Building Challenge, Passive House, BREAAM, and more), discuss our knowledge of renewable energy, explore specific examples from Pittsburgh, and weigh in on case studies from Russian cities. Sean will share details about the Pittsburgh 2030 District and bring city planning lessons back to his new post at Envision Downtown. We’ll also meet with some LEED instructors and offer tips on teaching the LEED v4 credential exam prep courses. Here’s a peek at our itinerary:


Our journey begins in Moscow, where we’ll get settled and meet with our travel companions, Guy Eames (CEO of the Russian Green Building Council) and Dmitry Berezutsky (chairman of Greenstroy, Russia). Janel and I will also spend an afternoon meeting with a LEED instructor with RuGBC and swap tips about teaching the exam prep courses. We’ll explore Moscow a bit and get used to the time change.


Perm is a large city in the Ural Mountain Range (to offer some perspective, Perm is about as far away from Moscow as Pittsburgh is from California!). With a population of one million people, it’s the second-largest city in this region and is rich in culture, history, and natural resources. Our recent visitor, Katia, lives and works in Perm and will help us get acquainted with the city. While there, our team will give lectures at some of the local universities (including a master design class, where Janel will share her extensive knowledge of green interiors), present several topics at a conference focused on green buildings and cities, participate in a roundtable discussion with local developers, and go on an eco-tour along Perm’s beautiful Kama River.


Yekaterinburg is Russia’s fourth-largest city and the political capital of the Ural Mountains. Similar to Perm, our generous hosts in Yekaterinburg have helped us schedule a few days of intensive and productive activities! We’ll participate in a roundtable with members of the Union of Energy Efficiency, present topics at a conference focused on green technologies in construction, and give lectures at local universities.


Chelyabinsk is located on the border of the Ural Mountains and Siberia (cool, right?). In recent history, it may be best known as the location of a meteor explosion. Our hosts there have planned a roundtable discussion with the local Union of Architects. We may also tour a battery recycling plant and visit some of the city’s many public parks (including well-known Gagarin Park, a large forested area in the center of the city).

After Chelyabinsk, we head back to Moscow and catch our flight home!

At GBA, we’re incredibly grateful for this opportunity to learn from students and professionals across the globe and be able to share our experiences with them. We thank our hosts in each city and those traveling with us for their help in planning the trip and allowing us to make the most of our time in Russia. We’ll post trip reports throughout the journey, so stay tuned! 


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