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Anna Kangas and Buck Van Hooser
Anna Kangas and Buck Van Hooser

A Conversation With ... Anna Kangas and Buck Van Hooser

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Tell us about the Missouri Heartland Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.
AK: We are educating the Springfield area about green building. We have 70 members.

BVH: We have monthly meetings and board meetings that are open to our membership. We also have programs and do site tours. Right now, we represent all of Missouri except for Kansas City and St. Louis. Our chapter is merging with St. Louis (later this year) and we will become the Ozarks branch.

Is council membership limited to people in the building industry?
BVH: Not really. If you have a sustainable frame of mind … you can be an environmentalist or a mother of three who really cares about what’s going to be there for your children and your grandchildren.

AK: One of our newest members has a master’s degree in business with an emphasis on planning green events, or events that are sustainable.

How do you define a sustainable frame of mind?
BVH: Part of it is keeping away from what we call greenwashing. There are companies … that claim they’re green, but they do the bare minimum to get away with the terminology. … There are things that are green that the public doesn’t think about, because their focus is so limited. There’s paper and plastic, but they can also think about things like packaging on what they buy. It’s just being responsible (with) what we’ve been given.

What is the council’s Emerging Green Builders Group?
AK: We started an EGB group here probably about a year and a half ago. Mostly what we do is green building tours, specifically projects that are achieving LEED certification. … EGB has actually split down now to emerging professionals and a student chapter. At the student chapter, we try to target Drury students, Missouri State University students, and (Ozarks Technical Community College) students, and the emerging professionals side is for people who are out in the work force already. Technically, I’m chairwoman of the emerging professionals group. The emerging professionals-student split was … in June.

Do you think considering environmental building practices will be required rather than optional?
AK: I think so. The city of Springfield already has passed a resolution that (new city-owned buildings) have to be built to LEED-Gold standards. The International Code Council is working on a green building code, and the American Institute of  Architects requires that a certain number of (continuing education) hours every year are on sustainable design.

Why did you each decide to obtain your LEED-AP designations?
AK: My senior year of college, my senior project was the LEED-Platinum Habitat for Humanity House, and I was really involved in the paperwork and certification for that. When I graduated, I was looking for an office that was interested in LEED, and I went after (the designation).

BVH: I’m a LEED-AP because I actually present the AIA credit courses on sustainable design, so it’s a little more credible for me to be a LEED-AP. (Building professionals) want to deal with people who understand what (sustainability) is all about.

What’s the key obstacle to more widespread acceptance of green building?
AK: Money.

BVH: There’s an investment that people perceive is going to be more than what they want to make for what they’re building. They don’t always look at the payback. Without investigating, they’re making decisions on assumptions. Part of our mission at the chapter is to educate people on (green building choices) so their children and their children’s children can have good quality of life in the environment. You can take a profit look at what it will take to make that happen, but in the end, they can get the savings back, besides being responsible.
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