Michelle DeLora, 40, is chairman of the Orlando chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council and an architect with Burke Hogue Mills Inc. The firm's building in Lake Mary has been certified gold by the USGBC. DeLora spoke last week with Sentinel staff writer Mary Shanklin.
CFB: What is the Green Building Council?
CFB: Give me an example?
We do certifications for new construction and renovation. We're seeing a big increase in renovated buildings seeking certification. An example of a standard for renovations would be upgrading the air conditioning to be more efficient, so users can see energy or utility savings.
CFB: Why is there an Orlando chapter?
There are seven chapters in Florida, which may be the greatest number for any state. That's largely because Florida is such a hotbed of green building right now and, due to the nature of Floridians, we don't like to travel a lot. We like to keep things as central as possible, so we can give more information to our members.
CFB: How many members do you have?
We have over 400 in our chapter. We focus on education and advocacy for commercial and residential projects.
CFB: You hired an executive director last week. What do you hope to accomplish?
Shannon Miller, who is also the executive director of NAIOP, and she is partnering with Johanna Lyxey-Green. We hope to become more focused and able to provide greater education opportunities to our members.
CFB: What are the most innovative environmental features you're seeing?
For me, it may not be so innovative anymore, it's more interest in renewable energy and on-site renewable energy. For instance, solar panels and also solar curtain walls, which have been around for a few years but very rarely do you see them.
CFB: Do certifications take into account a commercial building being in the suburbs, forcing employees to drive?
Yes, it does in that there are sustainable-site credits, and a couple of them are for alternative transportation and development density. And those two types of credits are worth more than the other site credits.
CFB: Some builders have said trying for a gold-level certification used to add 5 percent to the cost of construction but has come down as low as 2 percent. Would you agree?
For a larger building, I do. They're more able to absorb the costs. More knowledge from the designers and more availability of the products has increased competition and brought down the costs.
CFB: Any evidence that LEED-certified buildings get higher lease or sales prices?
I have been going to seminars where developers are presenting cases demonstrating clients are interested in paying higher lease rates when they know that their utility bills will be lower.
CFB: Florida lags other states in the highest level, platinum certification. Why is that?
I do know there's interest and there are more buildings that are targeting platinum. The highest level is more expensive and, being in a subtropical climate, we have a little bit more regional constraints, such as increased ventilation. The USGBC has recognized those issues and has made adjustments to their certification qualifiers.
CFB: What is the most environmentally efficient feature in your own home?
The most efficient features are probably the people. I'm the water miser, and my husband is the energy "turn off the lights" miser.
Mary Shanklin can be reached at email@example.com or 407-420-5538.