Russia Comes to Pittsburgh: On the Road with Guy and Svetlana Part II

We’ve had a wonderful time with our Russian visitors, Guy and Svetlana, as we spent the past several weeks facilitating meetings and presentations for our guests to connect with leaders in Pittsburgh, New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Johnstown, Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Chicago.  This cultural exchange has also allowed some of our staff members and partners to make new connections, which has been very invigorating.  Guy and Svetlana have headed back home now, but below is a summary of the second half of their trip.

On the Road with Guy and Svetlana: Detroit, Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Chicago

Before leaving Pittsburgh for the second half of their journey, Guy and Sveta enjoyed a show of the Nutcracker as well as a celebratory dinner with friends and colleagues.  Then, GBA’s Michael Sobkowiak and Nancy Hart – who will be joining Guy and Svetlana in Russia sometime in the next year to continue this cultural exchange – took our guests on a road trip through the Great Lakes region.  Luckily they are used to cold weather, so the low temperatures didn’t keep anyone from exploring these cool cities!

Our travelers began this leg of the journey in Detroit, where they met up with the president and board members of the USGBC Detroit chapter, along with city council members, to discuss their local green initiatives.  They also discussed the Pittsburgh 2030 District and how the model might be applied in Detroit.  (When GBA hosted the first ever 2030 Districts Summit in Pittsburgh this summer, Detroit and Ann Arbor were among dozens of city representatives from across the country who came to learn about this initiative.)

Ann Arbor
From Detroit, the group moved on to Ann Arbor, where they spoke with more locals about the 2030 District model (representatives from Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Dearborn are also talking amongst themselves about this initiative).  Michael, Nancy, Guy, and Sveta also dined with hosts from the Clean Energy Coalition and A3C Collaborative Architecture.

While in Dearborn, they got to tour a giant green roof at the Ford plant, which was designed with help from Bill McDonough (if you recall, the group met with Bill personally while in Washington, D.C.).  In addition to the green roof (which is said to be the largest green roof in the country), the Ford plant also incorporated skylights so employees working on the assembly line would have access to natural light.  Also in Dearborn, the group met with the city’s mayor and his sustainability coordinator, along with some members of the city planning team.


Nancy and Svetlana on a green roof in Chicago.

Nancy and Svetlana on the green roof at Chicago’s city hall.

This long and action-packed journey concluded in Chicago, where our friends met with the members of the USGBC Illinois chapter, the deputy sustainability officer for the city of Chicago, and several universities (including faculty, students, and sustainability officers at Loyola, University of Illinois at Chicago, and DePaul University).  While in the windy city, they also attended a meet & greet event with Baker Mackenzie law firm, where they met representatives from companies that might have interest in doing business with them in Russia.

We really hope that Guy and Svetlana enjoyed their time with GBA and our friends while here.  We all had a great time showing them around our city, and learning about some wonderful initiatives in other cities as well.  We also appreciate all of the help we received in planning this trip for our guests.  Thanks to everyone who helped plan itinerary, to those who scheduled and attended meetings and events with our guests, and to those who housed them while they were here.

Stay tuned for details about Michael and Nancy’s trip to Russia in the coming months!


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