usgbc impact conference recap

On May 1, 2018, Cool Choices Executive Director, Kathy Kuntz, presented a session at the US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) IMPACT Conference in St. Paul, MN titled, “If It Works Here…Green Lessons from a Very Red Place.”  In her presentation, Kathy spoke about the affect of behavior and social norms as the applied to our 2017 Waukesha County program. Waukesha County is considered to be the most conservative county in Wisconsin. Here is a recap of the USGBC IMPACT 2018 event and Kathy’s presentation. 

Sustainability Success is Happening Everywhere

Cool Choices was excited to be part of the conversation at IMPACT 2018, the USGBC’s regional event engaging stakeholders from Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

It was especially encouraging to hear success stories from Midwest communities that one doesn’t typically associate with sustainability. Cool Choices, for example, discussed about our work in Waukesha County, Wisconsin, illustrating that it’s possible to engage everyone around sustainability. Reinforcing that point was a group from Missouri that presented on their efforts to restore historic buildings, reducing waste, but also making those buildings more sustainable in the process. And over lunch, we learned about green building efforts in North Dakota. The event really affirmed that there’s a lot of important and exciting work going on throughout the Midwest.

Everything Ties Back to Behavior

An IMPACT attendee observed to us that he saw behavioral implications in every session he attended. “Everything ties back to behavior,” he noted, providing examples from several sessions.

USGBC Vice President for Market Transformation, Kimberly Lewis, made this point in her opening remarks. She noted that people are at the core of everything we do, that we build structures for people.

Certainly, that’s our view at Cool Choices. As the green building community becomes increasingly effective at the technical challenges associated with high performance, low resource buildings, the remaining challenges are mostly human. We attended two separate sessions, where presenters talked about the need to change culture—first referencing the need to influence employee practices, and in the second talking about efforts to build a community-wide ethic around sustainability. Additionally, our own session—where we discussed how to change culture—was well attended with a lot of engagement. And, yes, we had prizes.

Generational Leadership Can Start With You

One of the keynote speakers at USGBC IMPACT was Laura Kohler, the Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Stewardship & Sustainability at Kohler Co. Laura talked about the generational leadership at Kohler, highlighting the way her family built a successful business, while also managing their resource use and building a culture where employees innovate around sustainability. She also shared an origin story—about Kohler’s first bathtubs—that illustrated the power of entrepreneurship.

Her story reminded us that generational leadership can start anywhere—it can start right now with you. The actions you take can inspire future generations to do even more to build value while reducing resource use. It was a powerful reminder. Throughout the day we heard attendees and speakers refer back to the Kohler story, clearly affected by Laura’s words.

Our quest at Cool Choices is to help businesses and whole communities create cultures where everyone is engaged in sustainability, where everyone is contributing to a better tomorrow. We see leaders everywhere we look in our work, and we hope the same is true for you.

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