Twelve categories, hundreds of nominations — but only one will take home the green. It’s the first annual Southwest Build-it-Green Awards, where BIG teamed up with the USGBC to bring you the leanest sustainable leaders and projects in Arizona.
Recipient: Mark Wilhelm, LEED AP
Co-founder, Green Ideas Sustainability Consultants
Mark Wilhelm has a long-standing commitment to the green movement, and over the years he has given countless hours toward improving the earth.
Wilhelm realized in 1973 that he wanted to create ways to make the U.S. a sustainable place to live. He focused on solar energy technology, building energy simulation, and designing energy-efficient buildings. After earning his master’s in environmental planning from Arizona State University, Wilhelm worked for APS for 13 years, where he headed the development of the APS Environmental Showcase Home (ESH). The home is designed to use 60 percent less water and 85 percent less energy than a regular home and displayed new sustainable technologies, materials and procedures.
In 1994, Wilhelm created the firm Green Ideas Sustainability Consultants with his colleague, Charlie Popeck, to promote green building. He also volunteers to teach sustainability to ASU students and community organizations throughout the Valley.
Wilhelm is a founding member of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Arizona Chapter, and served as chapter chairman in 2006. In 2007, Wilhelm successfully lobbied to have the Arizona chapter host the 2009 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo. He also helped to choose the LEED Silver certified Phoenix Convention Center as the site of the conference. To recognize Wilhelm for his hard work and passion, he was named chairman of the Greenbuild Host Committee. The 2009 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo truly engaged the greater Phoenix community and attracted more than 27,000 attendees from around the world.
Finalist: Edwards Design Group
The Edwards Design Group is the pioneer of building environmentally sound, energy efficient homes in Scottsdale, Ariz. Brothers Kevin Edwards and Doug Edwards have been creating environmentally friendly homes for customers for thirty years. The company’s green approach protects the earth, conserves energy and saves homeowners money.
The Edwards Design Group was the first construction group to create and build a house using straw bale and autoclave aerated concrete, an insulated building block that doesn’t need to be as replaced as often as regular concrete. The Edwards Design Group also set up recycling processes on site during construction, saving one owner over $25,000.
The Edwards Design Group helped the City of Scottsdale increase its awareness on environmentally friendly and safe building techniques and materials. The company works closely with the City of Scottsdale’s Green Building Program, and has participated in the annual “Green Building Expo.” Kevin and Doug both host a TV show called “Sustainable Scottsdale.”
Finalist: Richard Franz-Under, RA, LEED AP
Pima County Development Services
Richard Franz-Under made history in Arizona when he received the first LEED certification for a building in the state. The Desert Vista Campus Plaza Building at Pima Community College was also the 31st building in the world to achieve LEED certification. In 1997, while working at Pima Community College, he developed the first green building program and is the state’s leading expert in designing buildings to meet LEED certification.
His dedication to sustainability doesn’t end there. Franz-Under commutes 20 miles round trip to work on a bicycle and provides community outreach for sustainable construction practices and affordable housing. He also manages a LEED for Homes Provider program — the only one in the nation — and is currently supervising the certification process of one remodel, 94 multifamily units and 62 new homes.
Franz-Under has served as a consultant for several different LEED projects in Arizona and speaks to the community throughout the year, educating people about the importance of green building practices.