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10th Annual Sustainable Innovation Awards Announced at U.S. Green Building Council-L.A. Chapter Green Gala

Recognized Community Leaders included Google, SoCal NOMA 

Los Angeles, CA (December 9, 2020) – Tonight at its 16th Annual Green Gala, the Los Angeles Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC-LA) community will get its Game ON!, virtually, as it presents the 10th Annual Sustainable Innovation Awards (SIA) during a games-focused event for the whole family. The two Projects of the Year are awarded to the Environmental Nature Center Preschool in Newport Beach, CA, in the BUILT Category, and to the Santa Monica City Hall East in the UN-BUILT Category. Nine more exceptional projects that went above and beyond in the new BUILT and UN-BUILT categories are being awarded. The USGBC-LA is also proud to recognize Community Leaders, which this year include Google, SoCal NOMA, the Neighborhood Council Sustainability Alliance, three key volunteers, and the 2nd annual Kevin Devine Award, being presented to Robert Berube of Kilroy Realty Corporation.

“USGBC-LA is all about people, and this year more than ever, it is important to remember the humanity of the projects in our communities and it starts with the people behind them. Our members, who design, build and operate the environments where we spend nearly 90% of our time, do an amazing job of pushing each other to go further each year. These projects and the people who made them happen deserve to be honored to bring more attention to the work they are doing and to drive others to go even further,” shares USGBC-LA Executive Director Ben Stapleton.

The SIAs affirm a project team’s commitment to a sustainable built environment; honor projects that are built or un-built, recognizing exceptional achievement and innovation; and reflect the Chapter’s emphasis on energy and water savings, air quality, waste, good design, community engagement, education and equity. This year, waste and operational carbon became key drivers for awards. The SIAs are open to Southern California projects either certified from the previous year under any sustainability rating system or on track to achieve certification. This year for the first time, all projects were required to submit basic performance data using the AIA’s new Common App to provide a fair basis for comparison. The complete list is as follows (project teams at end of announcement):


Project of the Year
Environmental Nature Center Preschool (Submitting Firm: LPA)
Specialty Sustainable Innovation Strategy:  Energy / Operational Carbon

Merit – City of Lake Forest City Hall Administration Building (Submitting Firm: Bernards).
Specialty Sustainable Innovation Strategy:  Water
Merit – Spruce Goose (Google) (Submitting Firm: All About Waste)
Specialty Sustainable Innovation Strategy:  Waste
Merit – Passive House Los Angeles (PHLA+) (Submitting Firm: PARAVANT Architects)
Specialty Sustainable Innovation Strategy:  Energy / Operational Carbon
Honor – CSU San Bernardino Center for Global Innovation (Submitting Firm: LPA)
Specialty Sustainable Innovation Strategy:  Health and Wellbeing
Honor (sub-category: SITES & Landscape) – Bradley Plaza (Submitting Firm: Arup)
Specialty Sustainable Innovation Strategy:  Water
Honor & Project of the Year (below)– Environmental Nature Center Preschool (Submitting Firm: LPA)
Specialty Sustainable Innovation Strategy:  Energy / Operational Carbon

Environmental Nature Center Preschool. (Photo by Costea Photography, courtesy LPA.)


Project of the Year
Santa Monica City Hall East (Submitting Firm: Buro Happold)
Specialty Sustainable Innovation Strategy:  Water, Energy / Operational Carbon, Materials, Health and Wellbeing

Merit – Orange County Sanitation District New Administrative HQ (Submitting Firm: HDR)
Specialty Sustainable Innovation Strategy:  Energy / Operational Carbon
Merit – LADWP Hoover Yard (Submitting Firm: HDR)
Specialty Sustainable Innovation Strategy:  Resilience
Honor – UC San Diego North Torrey Pines Living & Learning Neighborhood (NTPLLN) (Submitting Firm: HKS)
Specialty Sustainable Innovation Strategy:  Energy / Operational Carbon,

Honor – Dept. of General Services, CA Air Resources Board, Southern California Consolidation Project (Submitting Firm: ZGF)
Specialty Sustainable Innovation Strategy:  Energy / Operational Carbon
Honor & Project of the Year – Santa Monica City Hall East (Submitting Firm: Buro Happold)
Specialty Sustainable Innovation Strategy:  Water, Energy / Operational
Materials, Health and Wellbeing

Santa Monica City Hall East. (Photo by Randy Howard.)
Santa Monica City Hall East. (Photo by Randy Howard.)

The annual Projects of the Year embody not only a multitude of green building practices, but reflect the complete spirit of the SIAs. Highlights of the BUILT Category’s Environmental Nature Center Preschool, whose mission states to “inspire all generations to protect the natural world by serving as our community’s foremost authority on ecological responsibility, sustainable practices and environmental education”, include:

  • LEED Platinum certified and pursuing Living Building Challenge Petal certification.
  • The campus is serving as a living laboratory and educational tool for smart green design and conservation, with a focus on passive, efficient design.
  • To achieve ZNE, a 32 KW photovoltaic system with a battery backup  generates 105% of the preschool’s power needs and no natural gas is used within the building; operable windows, large sliding glass doors, energy efficient ceiling fans, and radiant floor heating were sustainably designed for temperature and air quality control.
  • The preschool’s playground area consists of different outdoor classroom spaces that resemble different natural environments.
  • The communal park offers a space for the outside community to engage with the project, with Friday building tours open to the public to provide education.
  • A post-occupancy survey reported a 98.9% overall satisfaction with the building’s performance.
The UN-BUILT Category’s Project of the year, Santa Monica City Hall East Building, is designed to meet cutting-edge criteria for the Living Building Challenge – all supporting the city’s commitment to sustainability with goals for carbon neutrality before 2050, water self-sufficiency by 2023, and zero waste by 2030. To do so, the new facility will produce the energy and water it consumes on site and marks a shift away from buildings that ‘use less’ to ones that are regenerative. Highlights include:
  • Building electricity supplied by rooftop and solar shade structure PV arrays implemented to reach net zero energy (no form of fossil fuel-based combustion).
  • Passive design techniques maximize daylight, views, and natural ventilation minimizing energy use through onsite solar.
  • Introduction of a foam-based composting system for all the water closets, which only use a tablespoon of water for flushing compared to 1.6 gallons per flush.
  • Rainwater is captured from the rooftop solar PV to a 40,000-gallon cistern and treated to a drinkable standard.
  • Greywater is captured and treated via a moving bed-membrane bioreactor and used for onsite irrigation. Greywater is also exported to nearby city sites to further reduce potable irrigation demand.
  • The building is hardened against natural disasters and will serve as an essential public safety services center in the event of emergency.

“I’ve been proud to work on the Sustainable Innovation Awards for several years, and am always impressed and excited by these projects that go above and beyond credit requirements and push the limits of sustainable design standards,” shares SIA chair Patti Harburg-Petrich of Buro Happold. “The project teams honored this year employed creative design and operational strategies, creating meaningful impacts we hope will inspire our community. Thank you to all who submitted projects for consideration.”

In addition to the SIAs, the USGBC-LA honored the ongoing importance of its community by recognizing that spirit in seven people and groups. The Community Leadership Awards were selected by the Chapter leadership:

Environmental Justice Leader of the Year Award:
SoCal NOMA (National Organization of Minority Architects)
Recognizing outstanding leadership in integrating the conversations around built environment, sustainability and equity. In particular, SoCal NOMA’s leadership and hard work to diversify the green building industry, has earned it this award.

Kevin Devine Award:
Robert Berube, Chief Engineer, Kilroy Realty Corp.
Recognizes an individual who is truly leading in sustainable building operations, in the day to day and by setting an example for others. Robert embodies the spirit of this award through his passion and curiosity, his mentoring that inspires others, his sourcing of new technologies, and his exceptional ability and desire to guide property managers along the sustainable path.

Corporate Sustainability Award:
Recognizes outstanding leadership in leveraging influence to increase the prevalence of sustainable business practices across the Los Angeles region. In particular, Google’s leadership in corporate social responsibility around financial innovation, corporate commitment, and sustainable development, has earned it this award.

Community Impact Award:
Neighborhood Council Sustainability Alliance (NCSA)
Recognizes outstanding leadership paving the way toward a more sustainable future. In particular, NCSA’s leadership and hard work to bring sustainability into our local communities, has earned it this award.

Partner of the Year Award:
Los Angeles Trade Tech College (LATTC)
Recognizes outstanding leadership in working creatively with others to advance sustainable initiatives and develop ‘green’ talent across the Los Angeles region. In particular, LATTC’s leadership and hard work in developing future talent for our region is paramount to a more sustainable future for all of us.

Emerging Leader Award:
Katie Freeze, Sustainability Coordinator, Leading Edge Consulting Services
Recognizes an individual who is still early in their career but is demonstrating industry leadership in pushing us all forward to a more sustainable built environment. In particular, Katie’s leadership in our community and hard work in leading our Legacy Project has earned her this award.

Hearts of the Chapter: 
Paul McGunnigle, Owner, Howard Building Corp.
Sara Neff, SVP of Sustainability, Kilroy Realty Corp.
Recognizing two member-volunteers who have gone above and beyond in representing their community for many years and leaving a sustainable legacy.

“We are grateful for the moment to celebrate the leaders of our community that we are honoring today, but all of us are eager to dive into the year ahead,” adds Stapleton. “In 2021 USGBC-LA will focus on scaling our new initiatives around building and occupant health, increase advocacy around fire prevention strategies, and further innovation in clean construction and infrastructure throughout our region.”

The Awards are being presented during the Green Gala’s virtual Game On! event in front of an online guest list of top industry professionals from local government, real estate owners and developers, architects, engineers, contractors, LEED professionals and other supporters. USGBC-LA works with anyone who is interested and engaged in collaborative sustainable initiatives.

The Green Gala is supported through the donations of many corporate partners:  Champion Sponsors – Southern California Edison, and Southern California Gas Company; Advocate Sponsors – Howard Building Corp., Sharpe Interior Systems, and Paul McGunnigle; Leader Sponsors – Blackmouf Entertainment, Clune Construction, Egan | Simon Architecture, and ZGF Architects; Ally Sponsors – ACCO Engineered Systems, Cumming Corp., HDR, Metropolitan Water District, Morley Builders, Muir-Chase Plumbing, O’Bryant Electric, Inc., Pinnacle Inc., and REair Global.

Significant annual support for USGBC-LA comes from Allsteel, Arup, Beneficial State Bank, Boston Properties, Brightworks, CalPortland, ChargePoint, Clean Power Alliance, FormLA Landscaping, Giroux Glass, Green Advantage, Hathaway Dinwiddie, HDR, Howard Building Corporation, Hudson Pacific Properties, Hunter Industries, Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI), Kilroy Realty Corp., JLL, LADWP, Momentum, Southern California Edison, Southern California Gas Company, Tishman Speyer, USGBC, and Verdical Group.

For information on USGBC-LA, please contact Executive Director Ben Stapleton at or Fernanda Zuin at


About U.S. Green Building Council-Los Angeles
Founded in 2002, USGBC-LA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization committed to creating a prosperous and sustainable future within one generation. Our mission is to accelerate all aspects of sustainability in the built environment by delivering access to knowledge, resources, recognition and networking. Learn, Share and Lead Green. (


The 10th Annual SUSTAINABLE INNOVATION AWARDS – Project Teams:

City of Lake Forest City Hall Administration Building
Bernards, Verdical Group, Lake Forest City Hall, and Carrier Johnson

Spruce Goose
All About Waste and Google

CSU San Bernardino Center for Global Innovation

Passive House Los Angeles (PHLA+)
PARAVANT Architects, Sylvia Wallis, CertiPHiers Inc., Fard Engineers Inc., CPHBA Shading Consultant, HERS Rater LA, Guillermo Delgadillo, Luxury Homes Photography, and KNB & Associates Inc.

Environmental Nature Center Preschool

Bradley Plaza (Green Alley)
Arup, Trust for Public Land, LA Sanitation & Environment (LASAN), Pacoima Beautiful, and Rios

UC San Diego North Torrey Pines Living & Learning Neighborhood
HKS, Inc., UC San Diego, Clark Construction, McParlane & Associates, OJB Landscape, and Dewberry

Department of General Services, California Air Resources Board, Southern California Consolidation Project
ZGF Architects, Hensel Phelps, and Affiliated Engineers, Inc.

Orange County Sanitation District New Administrative Headquarters
HDR Architecture, Orange County Sanitation District, and EPT Design

LADWP Hoover Yard
HDR and Los Angeles Department of Water & Power

Santa Monica City Hall East
Buro Happold, Frederick Fisher & Partners Architects, and Hathaway Dinwiddie Contractors