The final stop on our Russian green building tour was Chelyabinsk, an industrial city three hours south of Yekaterinburg. Driving past the factories on the city’s border evoked images of Pittsburgh in its industrial heyday, making this a perfect stop for our educational exchange.
Our hosts in Chelyabinsk were Vakhtan and Andree from Development Pro. Vakhtan explained that green building is a very new concept in Chelyabinsk and that builders are looking for basic information about methods, costs, and most importantly, the business case for green building.
On Thursday, Janel taught a LEED Green Associate prep course to a group of builders, developers, and students. Throughout our trip, we taught LEED GA prep courses to help people prepare for the exam if they wanted to take it (available in Moscow and St. Petersburg) and also offered condensed versions to certain groups like this one as a way to introduce an in-depth overview of the standard’s core concepts. Later that afternoon, Michael, Dmytry, Guy, Deanna, and I presented to a similar group that included both commercial and residential builders. We shared information about the benefits of green buildings, comparisons of different standards (including LEED for Homes), details about Pittsburgh’s experience over the past 20 years, and opportunities for such buildings in Russia.
On Friday, our hosts were Arjom and Julia. Arjom is a PhD student in economic management and foreign investment (providing a great bridge to a statement we heard several times on our trip: that foreign investors prefer greener buildings, so Russian development companies need to adopt this method to attract more international clients) and Julia is a PhD student studying green buildings. (According to Guy, she is one of only a handful of post-graduate students in the country who is focusing on this area of study.) Arjom and Julia gave us a tour of the city’s largest public green space, Gagarin Park, and then we participated in our final presentation of the trip at South Ural State University. Here, we presented to students and faculty members in the economic and construction departments. Students had lots of questions, including how we were able to convince construction companies in the U.S. to adopt green building methods and about costs and certifications. We engaged in great conversation at the end of our presentation and then celebrated our final night in Chelyabinsk with our hosts. Finally, it was time to return to Pittsburgh, so on Saturday we hopped a plane to Moscow and then caught our flight home on Sunday.
What an incredible, eye-opening, humbling, and educational journey we’ve had! Stay tuned for some final reflections and a slide show about the trip. We’re delighted to be home and can’t wait to see all of you at an upcoming GBA event!