by Joan Tupponce
Sandra Leibowitz of Sustainable Design Consulting understands why some companies are embracing green concepts and designs. “Why would a company want to be considered slow in this area?” she says.
Since founding the Richmond-based consulting firm in 2002, Leibowitz has seen an increased interest in sustainable projects in the Richmond area, primarily in the public sector. “We think interest will grow in the private sector as well, but it will grow slowly,” she says.
She believes her company is “unique in Richmond” because it is not a design firm but rather a consulting firm. Its services range from green building technical consulting to storm water/water reuse assessment.
Two of the company’s projects, the VCU Walter L. Rice Center Education Building and the Fort Belvoir Fairfax Village Neighborhood Center, were the first and second LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum projects in Virginia. Platinum is the highest level of LEED building certification program under the U.S. Green Building Council. In 2010, the council awarded the company the National Capital Region Chapter Member Firm of the Year award in the designer/consultant category for exemplary services.
Leibowitz counts the Rice Center and One Potomac Yard, a LEED Gold project in Arlington, as two of the company’s most unusual projects. “We provided consulting and LEED certification services first for the new construction and then later for the existing building operations and maintenance,” she explains.
Existing building operations and maintenance is just one of Sustainable Design’s areas of growth. Another is green-building program development. “Both public- and private-sector owners are looking past individual new construction projects toward greening their entire [property] portfolios” she says.
Her firm serves as the primary consultant for the city of Alexandria, assisting with a variety of projects that include green-building workshops. “We are helping them develop phase II of a green building program,” Leibowitz says.
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