партнерство: this is the Russian word for “partnership.” It’s a good word for the relationship that’s been developing between Green Building Alliance (GBA) and the Russian Green Building Council (RuGBC) over the past two years, and we’re excited to announce that we’ll continue that partnership with our Moscow counterparts this fall.
The journey started in the summer of 2013 when GBA’s CEO Mike Schiller traveled to Russia with the U.S. State Department as part of a peer-to-peer dialogue grant meant to encourage sustainable idea exchanges. Mike made many new friends and met many new colleagues during his time in Russia, where he presented to business, student, and government groups. This resulted in an extension of the grant, which enabled two Russian green building leaders to travel to the U.S. for a Mid-Atlantic green building tour hosted by GBA staff members.
When Guy Eames (head of RuGBC) and Svetlana Koshkina (head of the Russian Green Development Forum) visited the U.S. in the fall of 2013, GBA employees took them on a trek to Chicago, Detroit, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, where they met with U.S. Green Building Council staff, visited other USGBC chapters, toured many green buildings, met sustainability leaders such as Bill McDonough, and attended the 2013 Greenbuild International Conference & Expo. By then, we’d developed quite a camaraderie with Guy and Sveta, who are doing amazing things in Russia where healthy and high-performing buildings are gaining traction in the market. We couldn’t possibly stop!
Following Guy and Sveta’s state-side visit, GBA’s Michael Sobkowiak, Nancy Hart, and Janel Everly headed to Russia in the spring of 2014, where they taught a LEED Green Associate exam prep course, made several presentations to government and business groups, attended Moscow’s Mosbuild, and explored many green development sites, including Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, St. Petersburg, and Sochi (the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics).
That brings us to the present, where we’re about to begin the next leg of our journey. GBA and RuGBC were recently able to offer four Russian emerging professionals an opportunity to attend Greenbuild 2014 in New Orleans! Also funded through the U.S. State Department grant, this will allow Russians who are interested in green building to accompany GBA staff members for a week of inspiration, motivation, and cutting-edge education!
After announcing this opportunity, we received several applications from talented students and professionals in Russia who were interested in taking advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime trip. While all the applicants were very impressive, our organizations jointly selected four people based on their potential to contribute to the growth of the Russian green building industry, one of the fastest-growing markets worldwide. They include two urban planners, an engineer, and an ecologist. Here is a look at each of them:
Maria Victorova: An urban planner working in the City Planning Office of Ufa (Bashkortostan Republic), Maria recently completed a master’s degree at the Higher School of Economics in Urban Planning. As a volunteer at RuGBC, she has attended and reported on numerous RuGBC events since 2010, as well as been an active blogger and event organizer in Ufa. She passed the LEED Green Associate exam this summer (after taking Janel Everly’s LEED GA prep course in Moscow).
“I decided to dedicate my research to green building, while in my city Ufa (which is far from Moscow), no one had even heard this phrase. My participation with the Russian green building community in Moscow was a huge step for me. The upcoming trip will allow me to meet with the international community of green builders and I still cannot believe it is happening. For me, green building is a special way of thinking, and I dream to implement these principles in the educational process at the university in my town. I look forward to Greenbuild 2014 and to gaining new knowledge.”
Gagik Margaryan: A green materials specialist who recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in ecology from the Russian University of People’s Friendship, Gagik looks forward to pursuing his master’s degree. Originally from Armenia, he has taken a strong interest in choosing the right materials to build green low-rise homes in Russia. He now works as a product marketing manager for one of Russia’s green building trade leaders. Gagik is an active student member of RuGBC.
“I am a green building enthusiast and, at Greenbuild 2014, I hope to gain vast experience and knowledge by communicating with professionals in green building. I will be looking for new sustainable building materials, technologies, and products for further usage and trading in Russia by our company. All the knowledge I get will be used to further my studies in energy and resource efficiency optimization and integrated building material safety. I’ll do my best to share as much as I can about green building practices in Russia. I’ve always dreamed of visiting the United States.”
Sofya Borushkina: With a master’s degree in urban planning from the Higher School of Economics, a bachelor’s degree in economics from Moscow State University, and the youngest of the group at 22 years old, Sofya has experience as a consultant at Ernst and Young for smart cities and, like Maria, recently passed her LEED Green Associate exam. She now works in urban planning and development .
“Since the beginning of my work in the spatial planning and construction sphere, I have tackled the problem of creating sustainable, livable, economic, and efficient objects and territories. I look forward to Greenbuild 2014 and to the discussions and reports about green neighborhood development. In my opinion, architecture and engineering are the tools that may mitigate socio-economic problems of a society. At Greenbuild 2014 a lot of attention is paid to poverty, social development disparities, and NS segregation. I believe that green building can help solve these problems, too.”
Alexei Novikov: An engineer who has specialized in energy-efficient lighting solutions over the past few years, Alexei worked with lighting controls and shading systems for Lutron Electronics (a RuGBC member and leader in its field). He presently works as a lighting consultant at Targetti Poulsen Industries, has a deep knowledge of lighting technology, and plans to take his LEED and BREEAM exams soon.
“At Greenbuild 2014, I want to get to the next professional level by gaining new knowledge, business relationships, and memories. This activity will help increase the number of buildings constructed from environmentally friendly materials, reduce the consumption of our planet’s resources in Russia, and, as a result, reduce the negative impact on her and our health and well-being. Thank you very much to the USGBC, Green Building Alliance and RuGBC for this opportunity!”
For their parts, GBA’s Mike Schiller and RuGBC’s Guy Eames are excited that the State Department grant has spurred what is turning out to be a great relationship.
“I am thrilled that our friendship has contributed to the success of this program,” says Guy Eames. “There are many similarities between the growth of the green building industry in the U.S. and Russia – both huge countries with conservative construction industries and both of which are starting to appreciate the benefits of innovation, saving resources, and better building design. I am sure these young people will bring new ideas back to Russia.”
“We’re delighted to bring our new friends to Greenbuild with us,” comments Mike Schiller, “where inspiring perspectives into many aspects of healthy and high-performing building are always created. I know they’ll learn a lot from our staff and others they’ll meet at the conference. And, since it’s taking place in New Orleans, they’ll also gain insight into sustainability and resiliency firsthand, which is an added bonus.”
The Greenbuild International Conference & Expo is hosted annually by the U.S. Green Building Council and attracts professionals from throughout the building industry. All the latest green building technologies and innovations are exhibited, while hundreds of educational options cover topics such as sustainable communities, net-zero energy, social equity, resiliency, water conservation, healthy building materials, and much more.
GBA is incredibly excited to continue this relationship with RuGBC and we’re looking forward to our trip to Greenbuild with our new colleagues!