Some set the standard, then stand behind the scenes
Every once in a while, you get to meet the people who have gone above and beyond in their work to fulfill what they believe to be the right thing to do. For Karl Bren and Chuk Bowls, founders of EarthCraft, the regional green building program of the mid-Atlantic, green building isn’t just about getting builders to try something different, it is about education and doing things that will impact the environment positively for years to come.
March 29th was the 3rd Annual Sustainable Leadership Awards sponsored by EarthCraft Virginia, VHDA, Superior Walls of Central Virginia and S.B. Cox, Inc., it was here that dozens of builders and developers who have risen to the challenge of creating homes that are healthier and more energy efficient were able to be recognized among their peers for their hard work in an industry where technology is ever changing and instilling the practice is a challenge that the builders, developers, architects and technical advisers rise to meet on a daily basis.
The Sustainable Leadership Awards this year also was able to give kudos to its EarthCraft Virginia Co-founder, Karl Bren as the Visionary of the year. Mr. Bren has accepted numerous awards in the past for his leadership in environmental stewardship and dedication to green building, but this year, his acceptance was even more humbling, because he puts his dedication right back on the great folks at the non-profit, the “youngsters who have been termed ‘so-cute’ at EarthCraft, whom without, there would be no program.” That is incredible- humbling indeed.
My love affair with sustainable buildings
I was able to speak with Mr. Bren before the event started and we chatted briefly of his time in the early seventies when he and his wife were stationed at Ft. Hood and lived near Temple, Texas. I told him about my start with the City of Austin’s Green Building program and how I began my love affair with sustainable building through liaising with the luxury builders of Austin, Texas.
He was ewhing an awhing over Austin (my hometown) as the “grandfather of the green building movement.” I couldn’t agree with him more… and we were fast-friends. He recalled his first time to go to a green building conference in Austin and how much he appreciated what the City was doing to motivate its builders and architects to do to build in a sustainable way and what could he do to do the same? Ultimately, he took that thought with him and carried it over twenty-five years later until, in 2006, they formed EarthCraft Virginia.
With the vision of healthier homes for a better quality of life and sustainable building practices in mind, Karl, with the help of his dear friend, Chuk Bowles created the EarthCraft program which now certifies over 280 builders and developers across the Mid-Atlantic and has now certified over 7000 multi-family residential units, employs 10 on-site staff and 24 technical advisers throughout the Mid-Atlantic.
Their program is flourishing and bringing the education and empowerment to the builders, developers and architects that it originally intended. This is an amazing feat for a non-profit that began from a simple idea to bring better building and sustainability practices to the region.
He did the hard work. He got the plan together, implemented it and coordinated to create a successful team. Now he can sit on the Board and watch it continue to flourish and bring healthier, more sustainable homes and building practices to the region. Are these people my heroes? Probably, because now it will drive me to do more in my field.