News & Views

Statement on U.S. withdrawal from Paris climate accord

Statement in support of USGBC-Illinois’ strategic plan in light of U.S. withdrawal from Paris climate accord

The USGBC-Illinois Emerging Professionals Committee stands with USGBC-Illinois regarding the current administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

While the decision is misguided and dangerous, we believe that climate action does not start and end with the federal government. Our incredible volunteers demonstrate every day how people on the local and state level can make a tremendous difference.

As young professionals who are rising to leadership positions in architecture, policy, sustainable construction, real estate and countless other professions that better our region, we recognize the tremendous environmental challenges that lie ahead.

We choose to look at those challenges as opportunities to secure a healthier, more sustainable and more prosperous future.

We are the generation that will stand up and address the most pressing threat of our time. The Emerging Professionals are committed to doing all they can to achieve USGBC-Illinois’ strategic plan — the Epic Challenge — to bring carbon reduction solutions to every Chicago neighborhood, while also bettering the region and world through our professional lives.

Read the full statement from USGBC-Illinois below our signatures or on its website.


The USGBC-Illinois Emerging Professionals Committee

Natalie Hicks           Lauren Tavel            Priyam Parikh         Zach Rose                

Joe Popely                Ryan Anderson         Megan McKitterick  

Steph Townsend     Andy Stein                 Taylor White

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Hicks, Tavel honored as outstanding volunteers

EP Committee members Natalie Hicks and Lauren Tavel were honored as 2016 Outstanding Green Building Volunteers Nov. 2 at the USGBC Illinois Annual Meeting and Celebration at the DIRTT Showroom.

Hicks, who co-chairs the committee, has been instrumental in planning and executing various EP initiatives and events. She actively volunteers for chapter events and is also heavily involved with Chicago Women in Architecture. Most notably, her fundraising efforts helped secure significant donations that contributed to USGBC Illinois achieving one of its highest fundraising benchmarks at the annual Limelight gala.

Tavel tirelessly volunteers for chapter events, no more so than for the 2016 GreenBuilt Home Tour (GBHT). A member of the GBHT planning committee, she contributed to every aspect of the tour. Tavel created marketing materials, promoted the event through social media and regular blog posts, and served as a home tour guide on both days of the tour.

USGBC Illinois members Dan McJacobson, Rael Slutzky and Tommy Zakrzewski also earned the award. You can view the entire list here.

Congratulations, you two!

Natalie Hicks (left) and Lauren Tavel pose with their 2016 outstanding volunteer awards Nov. 2 at the USGBC Illinois Annual Meeting at DIRTT Showroom.



Sippil: Expanding sustainable food movement requires community

Paul D. Sippil, founder, Community Dining

Paul Sippil is the founder of Community Dining, a farm-to-table organization focused on promoting sustainable food practices via substantive relationship-building events. He recently joined the Emerging Professionals at City Farm Chicago to discuss the organization and the growing local sustainable food movement.

You can take part in his next farm-to-table event on August 18. Be sure to visit the website, follow Community Dining on Twitter and join the Facebook group

This post has been edited for clarity.


There is a growing movement in Chicago that aims to increase awareness about the importance of growing food locally and sustainably and support local growers that focus on sustainable sourcing.  One can easily find opportunities to learn more about a wide range of topics such as gardening, cooking, nutrition and optimal farming practices. 

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Chicago EPs make an impact at City Farm

Putting its stamp on the city’s blooming  urban agriculture movement, 22 Emerging Professionals gathered July 30 at City Farm Chicago to help prepare the sizable urban garden for the summer growing season on a temperate, cloud-covered morning that later gave way to sunshine.

Volunteers divided into two groups, as complete strangers before the event bonded over teamwork. The Emerging Professionals are a group of young professionals within the U.S. Green Building Council Illinois chapter.

“It is amazing to see how a desolate lot one year ago has transformed into a lush urban farm,” said committee member Andy Stein, who organized the event. “It was exciting that the USGBC EPs had the opportunity to help with this transformation and spend a Saturday afternoon getting to know each other while volunteering.”

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Chicago’s blooming urban agriculture movement

Already a leader in urban sustainability,  Chicago is getting good at something typically thought of as reserved for central and downstate Illinois: farming.

EcoWatch noted in late June that Chicago is rapidly becoming the nation’s “urban ag capital.” See that image at the top of this post? All of the blue dots represent urban growing sites in Chicago, courtesy of the Chicago Urban Agriculture Mapping Project.

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Dill, EP Committee host On The Table 2016 discussion

Bringing together a wide range of energy, sustainability and environmental professionals, the U.S. Green Building Council Illinois Emerging Professionals Committee hosted its third annual On The Table discussion from 6-8 p.m. May 10 at Beermiscuous in Chicago.

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On The Table 2014

May 12th, marked On The Table 2014. 6 USGBC EPs and 5 industry professionals discussed the future of Chicago during Chicago Community’s On The Table 2014 event.

The idea of hosting the event at Design Cloud was to spark creativity; to be in a space that allows your mind to escape to the realm of impossibilities. Dhruti Patel and Miki Sankary were the hosts for the night. The idea to pursue hosting a table stemmed from Miki’s definition of sustainability and her mission of connecting people together who have similar visions. That definition also sparked the genesis of The Generation Green Project. The project focuses on connecting organizations, the City of Chicago, our communities and schools to address the bigger issues of material reuse. The project will be launching its first workshop with the Rebuilding Exchange in July with Simeon School.

The On The Table event was a great opportunity to get professionals connected to emerging professionals, and together address our communities’ key issues and problems. Dhruti picked the topics of discussion based on her definition of sustainability which is connected to the concept of resiliency and the idea of resilience engineering. Dhruti believes sustainability and resiliency go hand in hand, and she is on a mission to bring that concept to the business world through strategic change management; economic development needs to be resilient development.

A strong, vibrant, dynamic community is a resilient community. The event was the perfect opportunity to consider Chicago’s infrastructure, the issues of climate change to come in 2040, and its struggles to achieve resiliency and regeneration as well.

The night started off with introductions from Jennifer Choi (Design Cloud), Miki Sankary (USGBC EP Outreach Chair), and Dhruti Patel (USGBC EP Chair). Guests were allowed to mingle and network with each other, and were asked to rotate every 3 minutes. The idea was to get everyone comfortable with each other so they could openly speak their mind during the round table discussion.

During the round table discussion, Dhruti moderated, and took notes via a mind mapping tool. The goal was to capture the connections between ideas and how they all relate back to resiliency and communities. Dhruti’s mind map is available below, and it truly captures the diversity of the conversation.

Lyndl Schuster – River Trails School District 26
Michael Bloom – US GSA
Mike Skiba – Omni Ecosystems
Anne Nicklin – Building Materials Reuse Association
Thomas Napier – US Army Corps of Engineers

Emerging Professionals:
Miki Sankary
Juanita Garcia
Sia Xeros
Michael Schussler
Nicole Miller

Dhruti Patel

On The Table Discussion Questions:
1. How do you contribute to sustainability in Chicago? What is your ingredient? What does sustainability mean to you and to Chicago?

2. What is the economic impact of your ingredient? Thinking in terms of the ‘single bottom line’ concept, how does you ingredient contribute to the economic sustainability of your industry in general, your community, Chicago, and your career?

3. What factor of sustainability should Chicago focus on and why? How do you envision Chicago in 2040?

4. Provide a list of priorities for Chicago. What are we doing today to influence Chicago in 2040?

 5. How are you inspired by the people sitting around you? How will it have an impact on your community? How will you make your community resilient?


Did you Take the Pledge?

These past couple of days have been busy for both the USGBC as well as the Emerging Professionals! We recently partnered with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill at their downtown Chicago offices to introduce them and neighboring firms VOA and Goettsch to the Chicago chapters of the USGBC and Emerging Professionals committee to see how they could become involved. USGBC Executive Director Brian Imus gave a short introductory speech, but left members and nonmembers alike to float through the space and learn about each other.

This week also wrapped up our informational Earth Day Mixer at the USGBC offices in the Merchandise Mart where we talked about our vision for the upcoming event at Lincoln Park with Chicago’s Friends of the Park. We gathered a few more signatures but still have room for many more! Don’t forget to sign up and register – and bring your friends! Your closet isn’t the only thing that needs some spring cleaning, after all..